The people behind Macquarie - helping communities when they need it most

Letter by Mary Reemst, Chair of the Macquarie Group Foundation and Managing Director & CEO of Macquarie Bank Limited.

In 2020, an extraordinary year of challenges, Macquarie Group employees responded with empathy, humility, and generosity. From thousands of hours spent volunteering to millions of dollars donated, I am proud and thankful for our colleagues who showed amazing resilience and kindness when it was needed most. As we reflect on the year that was, I’m certain that Macquarie employees, together with the Macquarie Group Foundation, will overcome any challenges and continue to have a positive social impact in the year ahead.

From natural disasters to a global pandemic

Devastating bushfires tore across Australia at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. With more than 12.6 million hectares burned across the country and the loss of over one billion animals, Macquarie employees didn’t hesitate to roll up their collective sleeves and help any way they could. With the Macquarie Group Foundation’s (the Foundation) matching, this included contributing more than $A1m to the Australian Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Foodbank Australia WWF-Australia, and Bush Heritage Australia, and volunteering for community organisations such as BlazeAid – helping rebuild fences and other structures damaged or destroyed by bushfires.

Their generous support of the #battlethebushfires appeal and other community partners means bushfire-affected communities have received vital support.

And just as Australia was slowly emerging from the bushfires, COVID-19 began to spread across the globe.

COVID-19 donation fund established

In April 2020, Macquarie Group allocated $A20m to the Foundation to support a number of non-profit organisations, working to combat the effects of COVID-19 around the world. The funds provided relief to affected communities, aided research and aims to stimulate economic recovery. To date we have allocated $A16.5m in total to 33 organisations. $A2m has been allocated to two Australian research projects and $A7.25m has been allocated across 24 non-profits internationally that are focused on direct relief efforts. Most recently we’ve allocated $A7.2m to seven organisations that are supporting workers and businesses in restarting economic activity. You can read more about our COVID-19 donation fund grantees on our website.

We also made a $A1 million emergency grant fund available for staff-supported non-profits, as well as providing emergency, supplemental funding to our existing grant partners where COVID-19 had significantly disrupted their operations.

Helping our 50th Anniversary Award winners along their journey

Macquarie’s 50th Anniversary Award winners adapted to this very challenging year and continued to progress their projects. For example, Last Mile Health, a national health assistance program in Liberia, was able to deploy over 3,800 frontline health workers and served more than 770,000 people since 2019 whilst also assisting with the local COVID-19 response in Malawi and Ethiopia. The Ocean Cleanup, working to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, successfully launched a new River Interceptor in the Dominican Republic stemming the flow of plastic before it gets out to sea.

Over 70 employees from around the world joined our Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award Ambassador Network this year, putting their hand up to work alongside these organisations. The Ambassadors are providing additional support in areas of identified opportunity as well as driving initiatives. It’s a fantastic demonstration of how our staff respond to amplify the impact of Macquarie’s grants and we’re delighted to have them on board.

Working towards racial equity and social justice in US

Institutionalised discrimination, particularly against Black communities, continued to highlight ongoing racial injustices in the US and across the world this year. Macquarie’s Head of Americas Shawn Lytle facilitated an internal ongoing discussion and led to the development of a Racial Equity Fund. The Americas Management Committee partnered with the Foundation to create the Fund to support community groups working on solutions towards racial equity over the next three years, with a working group engaged in nominating potential recipients as well as educating and engaging staff on the issue and with grant partners.

Our first grantee is the Robin Hood Foundation’s Power Fund, an initiative to fund and elevate nonprofit leaders of color working to increase economic mobility for New Yorkers living in poverty. This was followed by a grant to the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) to create safety and justice alliances to reduce crime, increase safety and reduce over-policing in targeted communities in Philadelphia and Jacksonville. Another five non-profit organisations were selected by Macquarie employees to receive $US20,000 each to support their work advancing racial equity.

Macquarie employees have also been encouraged to get involved beyond funding through a new racial equity working group through volunteering, pro bono consulting and other initiatives in support of organisations promoting racial equity.

A record year of giving during Foundation Week

Towards the end of 2020, 41 offices participated in our annual Foundation Week. Through 230 fundraising and volunteering initiatives, 85% of which were held virtually, we contributed a record $A5.4m, donated to 208 community organisations around the world. We were so impressed with the way our employees pivoted towards virtual events, ensuring the non-profit organisations they’re passionate about received the support they needed.

A large portion of these donations - $A1m - came from a single event in the Americas, supporting the International African American Museum in raising awareness of African American culture and history. Our people’s appreciation of Macquarie’s long-standing philanthropic culture certainly showed through this phenomenal effort.

I am incredibly proud of the efforts of the Foundation and our colleagues. Their resilience, unwavering kindness and passion have provided vital support to the communities in which we live and work. In a year when many philanthropic organisations were overwhelmed by need, the response was simply inspiring.  I am looking forward to seeing how we will continue to strengthen our communities in the year ahead, and beyond.


Mary Reemst 

Chair, Macquarie Group Foundation  
Managing Director & CEO, Macquarie Bank Limited