Working with the local community

Donaldson Leadership Academy

Two years ago, the Directors of James Donaldson & Sons decided to start a charity in recognition of the 150th anniversary. Rather than waste money in short term revelry, the company donated £150,000 to the new charity, and so The Donaldson Leadership Academy was launched.


Click the preview to watch a brief video about the charity to find out more about how we help local children.

The purpose of the charity is to help local children who have not had an easy start in life to realise their true potential. These young people can have low expectations for their future, so the aim of the Donaldson Leadership Academy is to challenge that perception.

The children are taken to social enterprise Columba 1400 on the Isle of Skye, which is devoted to leadership development. Here they develop team skills, self worth and confidence, and most importantly, enjoy themselves.

For the last two years the charity has sent 32 young people from the Levenmouth area where the company was founded, to Columba 1400.

Mr Donaldson and his wife have participated with the children on Skye in each of the last two years, and have seen the effect the experience has on the children first hand, finding it to be incredibly moving and inspirational.

Donaldson Leadership Academy Donaldson Leadership Academy Certificate

The first students attended Columba 1400 in 2007, and their growth as individuals was so profound, that they have left an indelible mark on our Chairman, Neil Donaldson. This effect obviously was reciprocal, as some of the students email Neil Donaldson regularly to wish him well and give him an update on their achievements.

It is the aim of the project to, through greater confidence and self belief, allow the participants to make a difference in their lives and the community, beyond their current comfort zone.

To mark 150 years of James Donaldson & Sons Ltd, the company asked friends and suppliers of the business to donate to the charity. Thanks to their incredible generosity and support, the company raised close to £60,000 for the Leadership Academy. This was very much appreciated and will certainly have a huge effect on yet another group of young people who will benefit from spending time at Columba 1400.

We are hoping to raise more funds this year for Columba 1400, in connection with the Donaldson Leadership Academy, with our 'Donaldson Challenge'. You can read more details on the challenge on our events page; it looks set to be a very exciting event in the Summer, with a number of employees participating in a relay cycle around the UK.

The aims of the project are:

  • To create the conditions for profound individual change and awareness of own potential
  • To build a self sustaining community for change with powerful bonds, a belief in team potential and a sense of momentum
  • To position this within a context that has some pre-disposition towards the possibility of change
  • To generate opportunities for the young people of the Levenmouth area
  • To give a lasting benefit to the Levenmouth area
  • To raise the aspirations of the young people who take part, particularly those at the edge of doing well
  • To develop participants confidence and self belief
  • To encourage different ways of thinking
  • Through greater confidence and self belief, allow the participants to make a difference in their lives and the community, beyond their current comfort zone

"Changing young people's lives"

Donaldson Leadership Academy
Years History Portraits