MERCANTILE ROWING CLUB MELBOURNE - Since 1880
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Mercantile Foundation

How does your Club protect itself for the future?

Success on the water is the primary way of protecting our future. We must always be vigilant to always aim for excellence. However there are some things which the Club can do financially and we have been fortunate to have a history of generous benefactors who have led in this area. They have created a Foundation which is already providing annual assistance to the Club but it needs to grow considerably to protect our Club and ensure that we remain a high performance club.

The Club needs donations to the Foundation which can be made through the Australian Sports Foundation in a tax deductible manner. A donation form can be found through this link. Whilst all donations are gratefully received, direct donations are of course preferred as they do not attract the 5% deduction of the ASF.

In addition to donations direct to the Foundation, the Club has been fortunate to receive generous bequests from deceased members. These have made a considerable difference to the Club. We have also been fortunate to have received commitments from some members that the Club will be well provided for in their Estates.

History of the Foundation

Back in 1980 at the Club’s centenary, President James Sprigg made a substantial donation to establish the Club’s Foundation, then known as the Endowment Fund. The original idea of the fund was to provide reserve funding should the Club have its “back against the wall” such as having to find another place from which to row. Other donors added to that figure and together with investment income, it grew to $630,000 by the time the Club undertook the renovations in 2012.

The Club’s Robert Hannaford portrait of Jim Sprigg

The Foundation assets were lent to the Club for these renovations on the condition that the rental income from tenants would repay the loan and also enhance the funds available to help the day to day activities of the Club.

The Foundation needs to have reserves in place to rebuild or renovate when the current lease expires in 14 years time. $200K of the Foundation assets have been allocated to this area and the Club is now about to commence repayment of the $630,000 debt to the Foundation to ensure that together with income received, we have at least $1mil in reserve for the boathouse in that time period.

More recently, Sean Colgan made a grant for equipment and at his request a separate Foundation account has been established named in honour of the Late Hubert “Freddy” Frederico. Through Sean’s extremely generous donations, this account has grown very quickly and now has assets of $1 million and based upon an annual 5% return, will continue to provide $50,000 pa to the Club for equipment. When combined with equipment sales, this is sufficient to maintain our large and good fleet. Well done Sean and the other members who have generously donated to the Frederico account.

Sean Colgan at the National Championships in 2019

Long term aims of the Foundation

By way of background, the long term aims and current status of the Foundation are:

  • Maintenance of a Clubhouse – the original purpose of the Foundation established by the Late James Sprigg. Currently this part of the Foundation has assets of $200K. Our objective is to have at least $1mil in 14 years time to again renovate the clubhouse. We project that the current assets, the repayments from the Club and the income generated over the next 14 years, we will reach our target.
  • Maintenance of a good fleet – This part of the Foundation established by Sean Colgan has achieved its initial objective and subject to the trustees maintaining the real value of the capital and income, it is regarded as completed.
  • Assistance to Club athletes competing overseas. This element of the Foundation was established with a bequest from the Late Dr R A Cooper back in 1973 to provide an annual award for the Club member of the year and to support our members competing overseas. The Trustees have skilfully invested those funds and the balance has risen to over $100,000 and provides $4,000 pa to our travelling athletes. However to fund seat fees of six under age athletes annually, a target of $1mil is required.
  • Finally, the other element which is in infancy, is a fund to support coaching at the Club. It is named after the Late Keith Bilney and established by a donation from his family. The objectives of this fund would be to fund two coaches and so is a very large figure and hence only an aspiration at the moment.

Your Trustees are currently Andrew Guerin, John Harry, Warwick Hutchins, Jeff Lawrence and Tim Frederico. In accordance with the constitution, one of these Trustees retires annually at the annual general meeting and is eligible for re-election. Past President Malcolm Batten has also been very active with the Foundation in recent times.

The Foundation is a critical part of securing the Club’s future and will need many more donations and bequests to achieve its aims.

If anyone has any questions on the Foundation, please do not hesitate to call any of the Trustees.

Andrew Guerin
June 2019

info@mercantile.org.au