How Seeley turned $10 whisky into charity millions

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Seeley International founder Frank Seeley has used a $10 bottle of whisky to raise millions of dollars for charity

Seeley International executive chairman Frank Seeley and Braemar scotch
Seeley International executive chairman Frank Seeley and the 'priceless' $10 bottle of Braemar scotch

When Frank was given the inexpensive bottle of ‘Braemar’ scotch by a dealer for a laugh back in 2001 – it shares the same name as the Braemar air conditioning ranges – the executive chairman saw an opportunity to use it for fund raising.

However, he says, he could never have imagined that it would become one of the cornerstones of Seeley’s charitable initiatives to change the lives of hundreds of children.

In every year since then that same unopened bottle of scotch has been auctioned at the company’s VIP Conference gala dinner, with delegates never holding back when it comes to lively and generous bidding for a worthy cause.

Frank says the proceeds enable the distribution of funds to a designated children’s charity near, or in, the host country of the international conference as well as a worthy Australian-based cause.

"I remember having a good chuckle when I first became aware of this particular $10 bottle of Braemar scotch, but it got me thinking that it created an opportunity to achieve a much higher purpose," he says. "It was used as the prize at an auction, raising about $2500 that year, which we matched dollar for dollar from our charitable fund."

The winning bidder re-gifted the unopened bottle at the conference the following year, and the company doubled the amount raised.

"In the many years that have followed, that bottle has become part of Seeley International’s folklore and has, with the amount raised this year, now generated more than $2 million for children," Frank says.

"The OM Indonesia Project is working to break the cycle of begging by local children by offering them education opportunities, which brings learning to them through its Street School project.

"Our efforts will fund that worthy project, as well as the Smart School project, which provides after-school learning for about 70 children in the S-tribe – one of the largest unreached tribes left in the world," he adds.

"And the third OM Indonesia Project to be supported is achieving some amazing results in partnership with local NGO, Geresa, through the Merdeka Outreach Project in Bali, which provides a rehabilitation centre for young offenders, as well as women and girls rescued from the sex industry."

In keeping with tradition, the Everglades Fund created by Frank and his wife, Kathy, will match the dealer donations dollar for dollar, with this year’s other recipient again being Variety - The Children’s Charity. 

The donation will help provide individuals and organisations with access to a range of special needs equipment, including wheelchairs, vocal output speech devices, prosthetic limbs, play equipment, Liberty Swings and Sunshine Coaches.


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