Business Wisdom From Lisa-Nicole Dunne Of CMRF Crumlin

Business wisdom from the desk of … LISA-NICOLE DUNNE, Chief Executive, CMRF CRUMLIN


Lisa-Nicole Dunne worked at BMW Group Ireland, Irish Life and Permanent and as an adjunct lecturer with DCU before joining the non-profit sector in 2009. She has since raised more than 40m for charitable purposes working with Focus Ireland and UNICEF Ireland. A previous board member of Children Direct, Fundraising Ireland and currently a Charities Institute Ireland board member, she has been Chief Executive of CMRF Crumlin ( since September.

The company?

Children’s Medical and Research Foundation (CMRF) Crumlin raises vital funding for the National Children’s Research Centre and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin to help some of Ireland’s sickest children.

Describe your role

I am developing the overall strategy for the organisation which includes fundraising and marketing and managing a team of professional fundraisers, thousands of community champions and volunteers, as well as corporate partners and donors in Ireland, the UK and the US. I ensure the foundation funding is sustainable and efficient and, working with the board, I oversee best practice in governance and management policies.

Business priorities for 2017?

With more than 140,000 patients set to visit Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin every year, our priority is highlighting the critical funding needs of the hospital and research centre and engaging corporate partners and amazing donors to share our vision and to fund equipment and cutting- edge research that will change the outcomes for sick children.  Right now, our priority is our Tiny Hearts Christmas appeal.

Highlights and challenges during your tenure?

A key challenge is ensuring our supporters continue to trust us and share our vision. Fundraising is an incredibly challenging but wonderfully creative and innovative area of sales and marketing. Recruiting, motivating and maintaining the best staff and volunteer network is crucial. Every euro we raise is of such importance, it is vital that we innovate all the time.

Did anything in your family background influence your journey to the role?

My parents, hardworking, open and honest, gave us all confidence to be ourselves, be grateful for our lot, and to stand up for others. I was interested in equality issues, human rights and studied the American south. That led me to realise that when you have a passion for something you will go the extra mile. And work doesn’t feel like work. I love what I do.

An accomplishment you are most proud of?

Getting my MBA in 2002. The recent merger of ICTR and Fundraising Ireland as Charities Institute Ireland was another important one. But I think championing and empowering the amazing women who I had the pleasure of working with at Focus Ireland and encouraging them to step up and be more confident in their abilities is something I am incredibly proud of. That and keeping the balls in the air. So far!

How do you approach difficult situations?

Don’t put it off, it doesn’t go away. Where people are concerned, I am direct and fair, and try to be sunny side up. This attitude has served me well.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

About 20 minutes. I usually pick an outfit the night before to ensure the chaos of two kids in the morning doesn’t mean I go out with odd shoes.

What keeps you awake at night?

Right now that is definitely my one-year-old daughter, Sadie!

A characteristic you believe a business leader should possess?


What is the most useful way to engage supporters?

The best way to engage people is to bring them in to see the impact of their support. So whether that is a visit to the hospital or a breakfast or lunch, we share stories of children whose lives have been changed thanks to our donor support.

Advice to women who aspire to be in leadership roles?

Don’t back away from opportunity; make it work. Get a good mentor. I have been blessed along the way with good friends, informal mentors (including my dad!) and amazing committee members. And be aware of the impact you can have on others, good and bad. 


1. Work/life balance: Do something you love then blurred lines are okay. My husband runs his own business so he leaves for work when I get home. I like to be really present when I am with the kids so I only check email when they are in bed.

2. Your strong points? I am strategic, decisive, creative and data-led.

3. Weaknesses? I am not a lover of live media interviews, so I have forced myself to do some training and practice. I’m not sure it will ever be my favourite part of the role!

4. Looking the business: It depends on the day and audience, but I usually mix classic, tailored and high street style to create a comfortable, smart look. I love fancy tights to bring a good black dress to life.

5. Planning for the future: I started my career in Irish Life and Permanent so I do know a bit about my pension. However, I haven’t been great at saving so far, and I am starting to realise it is time to really prioritise that.

Image by Al Higgins

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