Trust rides high on stock market surge
Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) earned £130 million more than expected during the last financial year, propelling its overall value to £458m.
The dramatic growth during 2020/21 stemmed from what the trust described as “an extraordinary period” for world equity markets which saw fortunes tumbling in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic before recovering and surging to near all-time highs.
SCT was banking on a return of £18.4m for the year. Its investments actually generated £148.2m – a return of 50 per cent driven by the success of its biggest fund manager Baillie Gifford.
At their virtual meeting on Thursday, trustees heard that growth had been strongest in the United States and Japan with particular success for technology firms and those in the digital sector.
SCT chair Dr Andrew Cooper said: “To add nearly £150m to the trust in one year is outstanding by any yardstick. We are always conscious that it’s the longer-term return that matters and fortunes can dip just as quickly. But it’s reassuring for the community’s future that we have strong reserves in place to cope with the social challenges of uncertain times ahead.”
It is just two years since the trust climbed back to financial sustainability, having steered its reserves above £300m in 2019 for the first time since 2000. In 2008/09 they had dropped to £150m due to overspending and a downturn in markets at the end of 2008.
In the 2021/22 financial year, the trust has increased its spending to £12m, including an extra £1m for its main grant scheme supporting 26 organisations, more than a dozen of them for the first time. It also introduced a new small grants scheme.
The main beneficiaries of SCT spending are islanders who use Shetland’s care homes, leisure centres, arts venues, museums and heritage services or who get help from many of the voluntary services provided by local charities.
Last year SCT was also able to pay out an extra £500,000 towards the MRI Scanner Appeal and to put in place a £1.3m safety net for local charitable organisations hit by a slump in trade during lockdowns.
SCT started out in 1976 with a pot of £81m from oil revenues and has since spent around £340m on community services. The focus continues to be on supporting people in need, especially the elderly, children and young people, as well as seeking to enhance Shetland’s environment.
Contact: John Robertson
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