Corporate fundraising proves it's a force for good

They say there is strength in numbers. And it's usually true that collaborative action is more effective than individual effort. No surprise then that when people at work get together to raise money for charity it's effective. And whatever our stereotype, Scotland is a generous nation at heart.

Josh Littlejohn, centre, Jennifer Cheyne of Cheynes Hairdressing and Marshall Dallas of the EICC promote the CEO Sleepout. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Back in 2012, we put the rest of the UK to shame with Scots giving away more than else-
where. We donated an average of £356 com-pared with the Welsh (£328) and English (£285).

The New Philanthropy Capital study by Ipsos Mori has not been updated but if the press releases that land on journalists’ desks about fund-raising initiatives and projects delivered by charities are anything to go by, Scots are still in generous mood.

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The workplace is often where we get together to raise money – whether it is at the office bake day or in the push-your-team-to-the-limit challenge.

Companies themselves will add their support, by adopting charities and boosting money raised or allowing time off to help in kind.

The cynical might say this is ticking a corporate social responsibility box, but the bottom line is that it supports good causes and raises staff morale.

In all fairness, the business community has stepped up with high-profile money-raising events.

The ones that spring to mind are those organised by Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite in Edinburgh.

The annual Scottish Business Awards have raised more than £4 million for good causes since they were launched – helped some way by keynote speeches from headline-grabbers such as Bill Clinton, George Clooney and 
Leonardo DiCaprio.

In December, Littlejohn pulled off another coup by persuading 300 senior business figures to spend the night outside in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. The CEO Sleepout raised more than £560,000 towards building a village and support structure for homeless people in the capital.

Across Scotland, where the aim of a sustainable business model seems to have firmly taken root, the health and wellbeing of our community is a focus of many industry events. Not all of them hit the headlines: there are plenty of annual gatherings where businesspeople dig deep for raffle tickets and auction lots, raising funds for charities.

The Scotsman-sponsored Scottish Property and Home Awards raise money for It’s Good 2 Give, the charity building the Ripple Retreat, a respite house for young people and their families affected by cancer, on the banks of Loch Venachar in the Trossachs.

At the two property awards ceremonies organised by KD Media each year, the 400-plus people with connections to property – builders, developers, architects, landlords – readily pull banknotes out of their sporrans and glamorous clutch bags.

“Over the time we have been supported by KD Media and the property awards, they have raised about £40,000 for us in just three years which is incredible,” says Lynne McNicoll, founder of It’s Good 2 Give.

“It’s not just the money but it’s about the people who have been able to help us. Cala Homes came up to me after the Scottish Home Awards and offered us furniture from their showhomes. That was just because I had spoken at the awards.”

She adds: “Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) have just taken us on as their charity of the year and they are going to come and help us when the building is finished.

“It’s all different ways that people show their support. It’s the ‘ripple’ effect with people coming to me and saying they want to help us.”

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) has always supported four charities through its industry events, raising about £10,000 annually. This year, its spring ball will support BEN, the automotive industry’s benevolent fund, while its annual dinner will raise funds for its other three charities, British Heart Foundation, RNLI and Cash 4 Kids.

“Like all charities, there is a huge demand on BEN’s recources,” says Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the SMTA.

“Obviously as the trade association for the industry in Scotland, I think it is our collective duty to raise awareness.”

Some 250 guests are expected at the black-tie BEN Scotland Ball on 22 April at Dunblane Hydro, where good food and music – plus the chance to win a car – will fuel donations.

The Lawscot Foundation

The Lawscot Foundation was established by the Law Society of Scotland in 2016 in the wake of the society’s review of fair access and potential barriers to entering the legal profession.

The foundation will offer financial assistance and mentoring support to students from less advantaged backgrounds to help them as they study at university for a law degree and the diploma in professional legal practice.

Similarly, at the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland, the ICAS Foundation aims to support academically talented young people from disadvantaged communities into university – again through mentoring and financial assistance.

ICAS is raising money for the foundation at an inaugural team golf challenge, the ICAS Masters, on 6 April at Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club near Edinburgh.

This article appears in the SPRING 2017 edition of Vision Scotland. An online version can be read here. Further information about Vision Scotland here.