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The Cottage: Inside The Quaich

Making our vision a reality

17th February 2020

By Jules Haston, Director of Development

Edinburgh is a city built on philanthropy and it’s the far-sighted individuals and companies who we have to thank for many of the facilities that we enjoy today.

We’re aiming to raise £25m to make our vision for West Princes Street Gardens a reality. We publicly launched the fundraising campaign in 2019 in Edinburgh and then in New York later in the year with the help of our international heralds or ‘Quaich Bearers’. A fundraising campaign to deliver a capital project of this scale requires a comprehensive supporter engagement programme to inspire and encourage financial contributions.

So far, we’ve secured £5,639,996 from individuals, £272,650 from charitable trusts (including a grant from Edinburgh World Heritage for the restoration of the Ross Fountain) and £17,064 from corporate sponsors to put on small scale events. We’ve got a long way to go but right now we’re working to raise awareness about the project and taking the plans step by step through the processes of planning and public consultations.

The people that we are looking to for monetary support are individuals, charitable trusts and foundations, businesses and the public sector. Support from corporate partners is divided into corporate social responsibility i.e. donations through corporate membership – and corporate sponsorship. With the latter the supporting businesses may require some brand profile or other recognition. However, all corporate sponsorship located in the Gardens will be subject to approval from the City of Edinburgh Council.

The money that is donated is always done so under strict rules. For instance, all philanthropic support is subject to HMRC regulations about what the donor can expect to receive in return. That’s why you often get the names of individuals associated with public buildings rather than companies. You can see examples of this at places like the V&A in Dundee and at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow.

We will continue the history of recognising donors who make transformative donations to improve the gardens. This follows the tradition of the Ross Fountain and the Ross Bandstand where names which bear the names of two families (unrelated) who bestowed the gardens with generous gifts. This recognition may include naming rights of certain venues and facilities; this is a very common method of engaging and profiling supporters.

Our sole intent and purpose is to support the charitable work of the Ross Development Trust, a registered charity whose mission is to improve West Princes Street Gardens. Up until this point our fundraising has been very targeted and we have been holding meetings with many individuals and organisations about potential support where our information brochures have been shared. However, following concerns raised in the local press – and in the spirit of openness and transparency – these brochures (approved by the City of Edinburgh Council) are now available on our website for anyone who wants to view them.

A successful capital campaign (fundraising on this scale) needs to engage the community on all levels. The Quaich Project is a public- private partnerships, and the Ross Development Trust has always been clear that funds will need to come from a wide array of supporters. The ‘stewardship’ programme that we’re putting in place to recognise supporter contributions is typical of any other capital campaign and our approach has the full backing of the City of Edinburgh Council.

We are surprised and disappointed at recent reports of perceived lack of transparency in our fundraising campaign. In fact, we announced the launch of the campaign back in March 2019 and have subsequently announced our Campaign Board who are a group of Edinburgh-based volunteers who are setting and delivering strategy on securing major philanthropic gifts from individuals and corporate donors.

A media request for information reached us over the weekend but as charity, our offices are not staffed 24/7 so we were unable to respond in time for the paper’s tight deadline. We hope the above information goes some way to explaining our processes.