Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has helped over 200 young British athletes since its partnership with SportsAid began in 2014. One of the world’s largest banks, RBC employs approximately 81,000 full and part-time employees who serve over 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients in 39 countries. It has a long history of operating in Europe which stretches back to 1910.
RBC linked up with SportsAid to offer financial support and recognition to young talented sports stars across the country. 50 athletes benefit from RBC’s backing each year with a 50:50 gender split across 31 disabled and non-disabled sporting disciplines in 2017. The support has enabled athletes to cover essential training and competition costs as they look to fulfil their sporting potential.
RBC’s staff are excellent fundraisers and have generated more than £330,000 for SportsAid. They regularly take part in challenge events and represent the charity in large numbers at the London Marathon, RideLondon and Tough Mudder. The employees have great enthusiasm for the partnership and stay in contact with athletes through a buddy scheme established to offer additional support.
RBC has seen a number of success stories over the last three years with double Paralympic champion Georgie Hermitage supported by the bank through SportsAid in 2014 and 2015, while the current cohort includes 200m sprinter Shannon Hylton, who represented Great Britain at the recent IAAF World Championships in London, and her twin sister Cheriece – a 400m runner.
How did the partnership between the Royal Bank of Canada and SportsAid begin? What was the main motivation behind supporting young athletes?
“RBC has been involved with the Canadian Olympic Movement since 1947, and we are their longest standing corporate supporter. We support the Canadian Paralympic team as well as the Special Olympics, so being involved in sports and assisting athletes reach their potential has been important to us for a number of years. We first became involved with SportsAid in 2014, initially through RBC Wealth Management sponsoring 21 athletes. In 2015, RBC Capital Markets also came on board, enabling us to sponsor 50 athletes in total. We’re very proud to be involved with SportsAid because through them we are helping young athletes achieve their sporting ambitions.”
How many athletes have you supported since 2014? What type of support do they receive over the course of a year?
“RBC supports 50 athletes, with each athlete receiving an annual £1,000 grant to go towards kit, travel costs and accommodation Our Team RBC SportsAiders are a 50:50 gender split across 31 disabled and non-disabled disciplines based in and around London and the Channel Islands so we can easily engage with them in person. To date, we have helped over 200 athletes. We also teamed up with the Old Vic, another charity partner, to host special workshops for our SportsAid athletes. This provides a unique opportunity for them to enhance their communications skills on the Old Vic stage, helping them prepare for a future in the spotlight and gain in self-confidence.”
You have a high level of staff engagement. What type of activities do they get up to? How much money has been raised for SportsAid?
“Our employees get involved in various fundraising activities, with recent examples including the London Marathon, Tough Mudder, and RideLondon-Surrey 100. This year we had 40 Team RBC riders taking part in RideLondon, all in support of SportsAid. Our employees like staying fit but more importantly they are naturally inspired by all the amazing causes out there. It’s not only the sense of achievement, but also the fact that they are raising money for very worthy causes. SportsAid Week is also a big focus and firmly in employee’s diaries; back in 2016, we hosted a special athlete showcase event to celebrate SportsAid’s 40th anniversary, with employees raising £8,000 that day. An absolute highlight for us was employees having the opportunity to watch young athletes provide sporting demonstrations, including boxing, modern pentathlon, judo and rhythmic gymnastics, while also seeking advice before giving it a go themselves. Since our partnership begun we have raised over £330,000.”
You run a buddy scheme for athletes to receive support from staff. How popular is this? What form does the support come in?
“The buddy scheme is something that has proven to be very popular with our employees and the interest is growing every year. This was soft launched in late 2015 and colleagues indicated who they would like to buddy with based on their own sporting interests. The programme provides the athletes with a friendly contact that they can keep updated on training and competitions and meet up with at events. It’s a fantastic way for us to stay up-to-date with the progress and achievements of our athletes; some buddies stay in regular contact over email and others see our athletes in training or at competitions. We have also welcomed a few SportsAid athletes into our offices on work experience with their buddy.”
How do staff generally keep up-to-date with the performances and achievements of athletes?
“To help promote the partnership we produced a range of co-branded collateral including a booklet that includes pictures, profiles and achievements of all our athletes. These are used at events and are on brochure racks throughout our offices. We also have an internal SportsAid microsite that is updated regularly with athlete news and the link to this is used in all internal SportsAid comms. We are also very proud of our ‘Wall of Fame’ which is framed photographs of our athletes in action presented on our trading floor.”
What other charity and community projects are RBC involved in?
“Our goal is to have a meaningful, positive and measurable impact on society, the environment and the economy. RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships, environmental initiatives and employee volunteer activities. RBC has been the title sponsor of RBC Race for the Kids, London, since 2010 and has raised over C$3.7 million for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. In 2016, more than 7,500 people came along to take part or cheer on friends and family, with 1,800 of them part of Team RBC. This year’s race takes place on 7 October 2017 and there are still some places free which you can sign up for. We are really proud that not only is this event entering its eighth year, but that its success has helped inspire other RBC Race for the Kids to be regularly held in 14 other locations worldwide.
“In February 2017, we staged our first RBC Trade for the Kids day, resulting in a donation of £450,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, Ronald McDonald House and Great Ormond Street Hospital. This highly engaging charity trading day was first held in 2015 in our New York office and raised $1 million for local youth charities. We are also committed to supporting the arts and as Principal Partner of The Old Vic, RBC enables this iconic theatre in London to deliver more daring, ambitious productions than ever before. We also have a wide range of volunteering opportunities and fundraising events throughout the year; these include a range of things such as bake sales, quizzes and musical performances from staff members to cooking dinner for Ronald McDonald House.”
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