The problem solvers: Don’t miss our profile on ShareGift

In the July print edition of The Review, we profile ShareGift Founder and Chairman Claire Mackintosh and CEO Julian Roberts

Simply put, ShareGift’s purpose is to provide a charitable solution to the business problems associated with small shareholdings. Often unwanted because they are too small to sell, these shares can be transferred to ShareGift at no cost to the shareholder, aggregated and sold to benefit different registered charities. This in turn saves companies money, cutting out the number of mail-outs needed and reducing their share registry workload. 

The organisation is now widely utilised by businesses. But, when starting out 20 years ago, Mackintosh faced an uphill struggle to get it off the ground. 

A spark of an ideaDuring the original privitisations – such as British Airways and BT – share ownership in the UK widened. At the same time, companies were encouraging scrip dividend mandates, which resulted in small scraps generated after a main shareholding had been sold. Mackintosh says she found herself wondering where these odd lot shares would go.

“It wasn’t just the shares; it was all the other things that were generated by them,” she explains.  “I realised the solution to this problem would be a technical one, but with a charitable outcome central to the concept.”

Finding a wayAn ideology which Mackintosh and Roberts mention often is that of innovation becoming template. The necessity of this approach was especially true at the start. “Most companies took the view – understandably – that it was a running, grumbling cost, but otherwise did not affect their business. Nobody was very interested because this problem was thought to be insoluble. That was a further trigger for me, people saying it couldn’t be done!”
“I realised the solution to this problem would be a technical one, but with a charitable outcome central to the concept” At the time, there was no CREST – the equity settlement system was still on the drawing board – little retail business was done via nominees and all shares were certificated. Mackintosh had to prove not only that people would donate their odd lot share certificates in the first place, but also that she could deal with all the administration.

Thankfully, the certificates did start rolling in, her administration practices worked, and Mackintosh fondly remembers the first donations ShareGift was able to make. “The very first cheques, each for £1,000 for five charities, although that’s very little money in terms of what we do now, were absolutely key to the proof. Those five cheques were among the most significant ShareGift has written.”

More to comeThere have been many more significant milestones since then but the organisation continues to expand. Roberts has recently been working to establish ShareGift’s presence in Ireland. The organisation was already receiving shares from shareholders based there, and as this has increased they have included donations to charities in the country to reflect this. “The Irish market holds a lot of opportunity as such share register programmes have not really featured,” says Roberts.
Published: 01 Jul 2016
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