Coutts finds giving comes naturally

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2011, 12:00am


Philanthropy is in the genes at Coutts, so joining hands with Operation Santa Claus to help the local community was a natural step for the private banking company.

But its ties to the annual fund-raising campaign have expanded, as the company's employees have formed bonds with Operation Santa charities that go beyond the bank's involvement.

The annual holiday charity appeal is jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Angela Burdett-Coutts, the granddaughter of the bank's founding family, inherited their multimillion-dollar fortune in the 1830s and turned her attention to the poor. Nicknamed 'Queen of the poor', she helped fund the work of Florence Nightingale, the British nurse who tended to hundreds of wounded soldiers during the Crimean war in the mid-19th century.

She also worked with author Charles Dickens to establish a refuge in London for prostitutes.

'She didn't just give money, but tried to train and equip women and children with better education and life skills so that they could get out of their poverty track,' said Ignatius Chong, Coutts' Hong Kong chief.

With that strong tradition, Coutts carried out a variety of charitable works in Britain and Asia, Chong said.

The bank organises events that promote exchanges between its clients and charities, and advises charities on how to manage their money.

'We help clients and charities to learn from each other, and we try to help charities manage their own money,' Chong said.

'For quite a number of clients, it is becoming more and more important that they get involved. They don't want to just write a cheque; they want to know the cheque is going to the right place and having a good impact. Donors will be more encouraged to give if the charity can show that it can take care of the money.' The bank also engages in philanthropic work through a charitable arm called Coutts Giving, which brought the bank to Operation Santa Claus.

Coutts Giving sees the bank set aside a certain amount for charitable projects. Andrew Sum, the bank's chief for greater China, said: 'It can be projects suggested by our clients, or by our staff.'

However, Sum and the company were caught by surprise when their employees formed a strong bond with the charities introduced to them through Operation Santa Claus. The result was miraculous, he said.

Now the firm's social committee was voluntarily setting aside money to help those charities, giving above and beyond the sums budgeted for them by Coutts Giving, Sum said.

The bank's employees have even invited former Operation Santa Claus beneficiaries to join the company's internal social activities, because they appreciate and treasure those charities and the work they do.

Operation Santa has supported more than 100 charities since it began in 1988. This year, it is raising money for 16 Hong Kong charities.

How you can give

Donate online by credit card at

Donations can be made at ATMs or at any branch of HSBC: account number 502-676299-001 for SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS

You can make a donation by cheque, payable to 'SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS' and mail to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories, Hong Kong

Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt with your name, address and phone number to the address above.

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