Six months after the Indian Ocean tsunami, Clifford Chance has raised more than $1m (£550,000) for the relief effort. Last December, the firm launched a fundraising exercise across all of its offices and committed to match fund collections up to $500,000 (£276,000). Over the past six months there has been a total of $538,000 (£297,000) raised through donations by individuals throughout the firm.
“Across the firm, we all watched with enormous concern the disastrous consequences of the tsunami,” says senior partner Stuart Popham. “We were determined to do everything we could to give real help to the most affected communities in the region.”
When the firm launched the appeal, it immediately allocated $100,000 (£55,000) to charities in India and Thailand for emergency payments. But it started to look for a longer-term project to work in partnership with humanitarian groups. Money was also allocated to be donated to each office’s chosen charity or charities.
The firm has recently identified a longer-term project, which will receive the balance of the ‘match-funding’ money. A spokesman for the firm says: “The goal is to have a close and ongoing partnership with the selected beneficiary, which is often difficult with the larger humanitarian organisations.”
Anushika Indraratna, a business analyst in the firm’s London office, was involved the day after the tsunami hit with an initiative driven by a group of professionals in conjunction with the Sri Lankan High Commission. After the initial relief effort they, through their Sri Lankan connections and the support of the commission, initiated the dialogue to establish ways in which individuals could help with long-term assistance. It was during this time that they came up with the idea of ‘Teardrop Relief’.
According to Clifford Chance, the aim is “to help rebuild the lives of the displaced children, particularly those living in orphanages, by bringing back the smiles to their faces”.
The group’s first project is the Teardrop Fun Bus. The charity has agreed to the purchase of two London buses, which it will launch at a cricket festival later this month, with former Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga agreeing to be patron of the charity. The buses will be converted into double-decker mobile play centres staffed with a team of children’s entertainers, and will travel the island from orphanage to orphanage. The firm is donating $26,000 (£14,000), enabling the buses to be fitted out.