Why we started the Altum Foundation

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Daleen McDowell tells us about establishing the Altum Foundation and sets a challenge to other corporates.

Tell us why you established the foundation - it's quite unusual for a relatively small company to do something like this?

I’ve always worked in the charity sector and I was thinking of coming back to work after having children when David and Ed (co-founders of Altum Consulting) asked me to consider setting up a corporate foundation for their business.

Altum is a young, evolving company so connecting the CSR agenda with the next generation in mind seemed the natural thing to do. We also felt strongly about partnering with charities for the long-term and giving staff the chance to get involved in a meaningful way.

We started the charitable foundation officially in January 2018 with the aim of supporting Altum Consulting’s mission to give people the power to fulfil their promise.

Tell us how staff members get involved?

All staff are foundation members and we give them tangible experiences to connect with our charitable partners. Last year we cycled 470km from our Amsterdam office to our London headquarters, and this year we’re running the Sierra Leone marathon for Street Child. These ‘Altum Experiences’ push us out of our comfort zone, connect us as a team and build deeper relationships. It really does promote a collaborative and more productive work environment.

It’s not just about the big challenges like our Altum Experiences. You don’t have to run a marathon! We also aim to give back our skills to the next generation. For example, we work directly with one of our charity partners, Resurgo Trust, hosting their trainees at our offices to learn more about interviews, CVs and careers options.

Every member of staff also takes a day to work with one of our charities directly or do their own fundraiser and we match what they raise to a value of £250.

Tell us how you’re helping each charity?

As a funder or philanthropist, there is always more you can do to enhance your charitable giving: from getting to know your cause inside out, to developing stronger relationships with your grantees, and improving your impact practice.

Resurgo Trust

Resurgo run an award-winning programme called ‘Spear’ which helps under-served young people into work or education. It’s got great alignment with our skills as recruiters and we give the trainees a window into the corporate world.

We hired Aliya, our team administrator, after she completed the Spear programme from Resurgo Trust. Aliya has developed within her role. We are training and supporting her to be ready for her next career step.

Evelina Children’s Hospital

We fundraise for very specific life changing equipment at the Evelina Children’s hospital. The retrieval ambulances help transport children from county hospitals to the Evelina and we are in the process to raise funds for a Wee-Sight Transilluminator which detects veins in young children to help administer life saving medication.

Street Child

Street Child is our global charity as I truly believe we have a responsibility to the rest of the world. It’s not just about being a good citizen, but a good human being. Many of the products we use everyday, from our smartphones to green beans in the supermarket, come from developing countries so we should be aware of the impact we’re having.

This May, 21 members of staff (85% of the Altum business) are running the Sierra Leone marathon for Street Child. So far we’ve raised £15,000 of our £21,000 target! Please help us reach our total by donating here bit.ly/donate-altum

What’s the impact on your people?

We see a lot of personal change. To be honest there were people we thought would struggle with the challenges. Yet these were the individuals who really came through and showed amazing leadership. In turn, that created a new level of trust - we saw their true potential and they’ve delivered some amazing projects since.

Breaking down those hierarchical barriers gives everyone the confidence to approach each other in the office and interact with the senior team. You can’t be that ‘corporate’ leader in these situations.

Consultants regularly say to me they’ve never worked for a company with this much soul - it’s not just a job.

Why do you want to grow the concept of corporate foundations?

The impact has been beyond my expectations and I really want to grow the idea of corporate foundations. I’d like to pose a challenge to other businesses out there: “This is what we’re doing, we’re creating a legacy for the next generation, what are you doing?”

If we can do this as a growing business, imagine what could be achieved if more corporates set up foundations? I firmly believe we could make the world a better place if we all work together towards a better future. It is in our hands to make a difference.

Sum up for us why companies should do more of this?

● Philanthropy - we have a responsibility to improve the well-being of others who are not privileged

● Impact - the ongoing results are priceless

● Challenge - Personal and team challenge bring us closer together

● Lasting change - Foundation members take their experience forward