The Cayman Islands has worked hard over two decades to overcome outdated Hollywood stereotypes about the jurisdiction. While the mix of organised crime, drug barons and crooked offshore professionals makes for a good movie plot the reality is that Cayman meets or exceeds international regulatory and financial industry standards. And forward looking businesses equally understand that charitable giving is good for the community, good for business and good for Cayman’s international reputation.
Financial services companies and their staff contribute significant time and money to a broad range of charitable and good causes. Contributions can take the form of volunteering personal time and professional services, financial donations or donations in kind to assist with programmes, equipment and facilities. Often (but not exclusively) these goals are achieved through focused organisations, such as Hedge Funds Care, and other service organisations that draw their support from the broader community as well as the financial services industry, such as the Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis and Lions Club, other not-for-profit organisations (eg, The NCVO, National Trust, the National Gallery, the Cancer Society and the Humane Society – to name but a few) and sports clubs. These are involved in a wide variety of community initiatives such as health care, education, the environment, sporting and recreational facilities, care for the poor, the elderly and children and mentoring and scholarship programmes that rely heavily on corporate and individual giving.
A Oxford Economics study published in February 2009 provides valuable details of the extent of financial services sector giving in the Cayman Islands. The sector contributed over CI$2 million to local organisations, community events and local charities. In particular, CI$460,000 was provided in scholarships to Cayman students, with much more time and money invested in job training. In addition, financial services industry employees volunteered over 59,000 hours to local organisations and programmes. A number of firms have established charitable trusts or foundations funded by client transactions that are providing major funding for local projects such as the Pines Retirement Home and the new George Town library.
Often it does not take much time or money to have a positive impact on the lives of others. A simple thing like coaching a local sports team can provide guidance and a strong role model for a young boy or girl who may not have that available at home. Small acts like volunteering at the hospital or helping out an aged neighbour with difficult chores can make a big difference.
Other actions require larger numbers of volunteers or large financial contributions such as the construction or maintenance of a community centre, women’s shelter or seniors’ residence or the provision of scholarships to needy students to study overseas.
This is where charitable giving makes such a big difference in people’s lives. The local papers almost daily carry a story about a local business donating to a charity, cultural event or community cause. Yet we never really consider the cumulative impact of all those individual donations on Cayman’s society as a whole. These donations of time, talent and money are often the invisible hands supporting our communities and improving the lives of a great many local residents each year. They also significantly reduce the ever increasing load that government is called upon to shoulder.
A recent example is the fundraising campaign led by prominent members of the finance industry raised over CI$13,000 to buy urgently-needed essential medical equipment for the paediatric ward in the George Town Hospital. The donation was accompanied by many bags of toys for the ward gathered by employees of the corporate entities involved.
This initiative garnered substantial local support from some well regarded corporate sponsors and private citizens, including Stuarts Walker Hersant, RBC Wealth Management, Krys & Associates, Tower Marketing and dms Management.
Corporate social responsibility is now a vital part of every good business strategy. Organisations that demonstrate ethical business practices and play an active role in their communities receive goodwill, loyalty and brand recognition within the local population, while providing indirect training to their staff in team building and project management skills. It is also a great boost to employee morale to know they, and their firm, are really making a difference.
Charitable giving is a great example of how local business organisations can demonstrate the importance of corporate social responsibility. These initiatives produce tangible results. We owe a huge vote of thanks to all who continue to give their time, money and support, even in what are difficult economic times.