CSR Views: Q&A with Rachel Engel

We are delighted that Rachel Engel, Regional Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation, EMEA, has joined the Heart of the City Board. 

 Rachel has supported Heart of the City for many years through our Board Advisory Panel and her fantastic support for our members in developing their responsible business programmes.  Here, we catch-up with Rachel to ask about Macquarie’s approach to CSR, why it makes good business sense and her proudest achievements.

What does your role involve and what are some of your proudest CSR achievements?

I have worked at Macquarie for eight years and currently head up the Macquarie Group Foundation in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

The Macquarie Group Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group, a financial services institution, which provides support to community organisations globally each year through financial support, volunteering and skills sharing, predominantly in the locations in which Macquarie operates.

My proudest CSR achievement at Macquarie has been the establishment and continued funding of the BIG Alliance (Businesses for Islington Giving) which has become an example of excellence within the London’s Giving movement. Outside of Macquarie a proud moment was when I led the design and delivery of GiveNow.org , as a funder we developed this idea – a pre-cursor to many online donation portals which now exist. This platform has been rolled into the wider Charities Aid Foundation online offerings to small charities and really led the way for ‘SME non-profits’ to be able to benefit from the dot.com boom through online donations.

What does CSR mean for Macquarie and can you provide some examples of your key programmes?

We don’t have a central CSR strategy as such. Instead, Macquarie’s CSR is embedded in our organisational culture. Our community focus, diversity and inclusion, environmental and sustainability strategies span across our different business units.

Our community activity is also staff-led – so you won’t hear us talking about ‘charity of the year’ as our partnerships come through long-term employee engagement programmes.  We have a significant matching programme that is available for staff who are fundraising or donating to specific organisation. Last year, together with employees, we funded over £16m and volunteered 50,000+ hours to help 1,500 community organisations globally.


We build deep and long-term relationships with community organisations. We currently have multi-year strategic grant partnerships with seven organisations, each one of them has a history of staff engagement. These organisations are:

  • Dallaglio RugbyWorks
  • East London Business Alliance and London Works
  • Islington Giving
  • Leadership Through Sport and Business
  • The Prince’s Trust
  • Reach Out
  • Streetwise Opera
    Typically, we look to fund innovative projects, start-up non-profits, and capacity building initiatives where we can see opportunities to make a bigger impact. We focus our support on organisations driving change and developing programmes around the themes of social mobility and investing in local place based giving. Many of our grant partners, in addition to receiving a Foundation grant, benefit from fundraising and volunteer support from Macquarie staff, regular donations made through the Macquarie Giving programme and have a Macquarie staff member serving on their board.

    Biennially we run the David Clarke Macquarie Award which is focused on providing funding for a UK charity CEO to travel and bring back their learnings to develop their own organisations.

    Skilled volunteering and pro-bono:

    The CoRe (Community Resourcing) programme is an established skills based volunteering project that launched in 2009. It brings together SME non-profits with volunteers from

    Macquarie Group, delivered by the BIG Alliance (Businesses for Islington Giving). Over six months, the organisations and volunteers collaborate on projects that contribute to the charities’ key strategic priorities. The aim is to help them become more sustainable and make progress that would not otherwise have been possible.

    Why should businesses take a strategic approach to CSR and aim to embed it within their company?

    Research tells us people want to work for purpose driven companies and those which support their professional growth and development. Workplace trends shows increasing impetus by jobseekers wanting to work for a business who is responsible in the market in which it operates, along wide its community and towards its workforce. Evidence shows companies which have a strong track-record in environmental reporting, diversity and inclusion, staff engagement and community impact leads to good staff retention and boosts recruitment opportunities.

    Why is it important for small businesses to focus on CSR and why does it make good business sense?

    The opportunity to demonstrate the impact your business has with its stakeholders, clients, customers and community can often set you apart from the competition. Increasingly customers are looking for businesses who care about the communities in which they operate and those which support their staff, alongside helping with recruitment and retention.

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