Firm raises £3m for charity after staff say give more back

A SCOTTISH financial firm has raised nearly £3 million in its ten years of charity fundraising, after managers were told by staff to do more to help good causes.

Sheena Kelman,secondleft, the firms head of dealing and chair of the Martin Currie Charitable Foundation. With Mark Beaumont, right. Picture: contributed

In 2005, a staff satisfaction survey at Edinburgh fund management company Martin Currie, found dissatisfaction in the ranks about how much the company was doing to give back.

The first Rob Roy Challenge was launched in 2006 – a gruelling 48-mile hike and bike ride in the Scottish Highlands – and the charitable Martin Currie Foundation was created the following year.

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The company gave its staff the ability to get involved at whatever level they wanted – from taking part in the main charity event, to sitting on a committee to decide which charities would be supported by the foundation.

“It still amazes me how many of the staff take part and go along and support it ten years on. Around 25 per cent of our staff take part, and every year it becomes quite competitive,” Martin Currie foundation chairwoman Sheena Kelman said.

Martin Currie has partnered with 12 charities over the past ten years, and are set to break their £3 million mark at this year’s event, already sitting at £2,700,000 for the past decade.

There have been 5,500 participants and 12,000 volunteers to date.

Steven Oates, Martin Currie Foundation board member, said: “The foundation is set up to support an international, national and local charity, which reflects our client base.

“We work on a three-year rolling basis as it helps the charities to gain experience from the event, become familiar with how it works, so they can really get the most out of the experience. Then after three years they would be replaced with a new charity.

“Some of the initial charities stayed on a year longer, so we weren’t having to replace all of them at once.”

The event is run with the help and support of the charity partners, Ms Kelman said.

“We have six partners this year who all have their roles to play in the event. We encourage them all bring their own team along to complete the event. All of the charities are very involved – the money that is paid out at the end, to a certain extent, will be dependant on their input to the event.

“That’s where the sponsorship we get from Martin Currie, because without them, the event wouldn’t happen. We’ve seen a number of events fold because either the main sponsor has stepped away, or the realisation that these events are quite expensive to put on.”

Mr Oates said a rise in events like Tough Mudder has threatened the survival of charity events.

He said: “Those type of events charge a smaller fee and you don’t have to fundraise. So the market for a big event like this becomes much more challenging.”

Ms Kelman added: “That is why we’re making this year more of an event. It’s not like those other ones where you do it, tick the box and get a t-shirt. This is almost a full day event.”

And with a whole new format, this year is set to have more of a festival feel.

“We’ve always had an after-event feast and ceilidh, which has been a real selling point,” Steven said, “but we’ve decided to build upon that for this year.

“We’re looking to turn it into more of a festival – we’re hoping more people will camp and stay over the whole weekend and make much more of a party out of it.

“On the Saturday, from around 12pm, there will be a lot of kids entertainment – so while Mum or Dad is taking part, someone can stay back with the kids at the hub, where there will be entertainment for them, with inflatables and face painting – things like that.

“When we come back, there will be much more varied food and drink. We haven’t finalised it yet, but we’re talking to a local company who run their own festival in that area, to bring their event down to us.

“We’d have live bands playing through out the day, BBQs, local food and drink producers having their own stalls, who are all donating a portion of their profits to the event. It’s going to be much more of a community involved event this year – and we’re hopeful that a number of locals will also come along. All of this is with the intention of raising money for charity partners.”

The event, going into its tenth year, will start in Pitlochry on 18 June, with the base camp at Kenmore.

|If you’d like to take part in the Rob Roy Challenge, find out more here