It is not only corporate SMEs that seek to manage the cost and risk of their currency transfers, as UK-based charity ThePromise will attest.
ThePromise was established in 2003 by Briton Sarah Settelen after she and a friend volunteered at a Russian orphanage and were taken aback at the lack of educational services available to the children there, particularly those with special needs.
“The kids were not getting any of the help you would automatically expect to receive in the UK for acquiring even basic skills like sitting up and feeding themselves. There is medical intervention, but no actual one to one support from a caring adult. Some had never been out of bed before and were completely dependent,” says ThePromise’s Director, Wendy Tabuteau.
“Our work is groundbreaking in Russia – we are trying to train as many people there as we can so that they can provide our learning programmes for the children themselves. The change from the children’s point of view has been amazing! In addition, fundraising is not a tradition in Russia, so we are also training local volunteers and organisations on that too.”
As Wendy points out, ThePromise is based in the UK, where it aims to raise the bulk of its funds, and is moving from a hands-on service provider to a grant-giving organisation. It was as a means of managing these transfer costs that ThePromise came to Smart Currency Business.
“As a small charity, every penny counts for us. We previously used our bank to transfer funds, because of the additional hoops required to transfer funds to Russia. However we were forced to transfer quarterly because of the sheer cost and hassle of each transfer,” Wendy explains.
“I had used currency specialists personally, but the one I investigated for ThePromise had never traded in Russia before. Also, our Russian director was extremely sceptical at first, since we need a safe pair of hands to manage our transfers. But he is very happy with how things are working out. We value the security that Smart Currency Business gives us, given their presence and legitimacy.
“Smart Currency Business has made currency transfers very straightforward for us. We can make our transfers monthly, which really helps our cashflow, and we no longer have the charges and transfer times of at least five days. We are very, very happy with the service we receive.”
While the economic malaise means that the task of fundraising is more difficult than ever, the future looks bright for ThePromise.
“There is a huge demand for us to expand our services into St Petersburg, so that is the focus of our current fundraising efforts. Being small, we have different income streams, but revenue shortfalls impact on us enormously. There is now so much competition for funds from trusts and foundations. We are trying to get more corporate sponsors – or angels as we call our regular donors – to help fill this gap,” Wendy says.
“By supporting a small charity, it is very clear what the impact of a business’ contribution is, and we can offer a level of engagement that you will not get from bigger charities. Our largest corporate donor, for instance, enjoys receiving videos of the children benefiting from our programmes, and has also had new business from their dealings with us thanks to links on our website at www.thepromise.org.uk.”