Financial services firms Newton Investment Management and BNY Mellon have agreed to hand over their prestigious title sponsorship of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races to Cancer Research UK.
Announced as the official charity partner of the event last year, Cancer Research UK will now be its headline sponsor for the next two years following Newton and BNY Mellon's unprecedented gesture.
The expensive sponsorship of the Boat Races, which this year will take place on Sunday 27 March, brings with it exposure to an anticipated TV audience of millions around the world.
Yet despite the significant cost of the sponsorship BNY Mellon and Newton have relinquished the opportunity of its exposure in order to make a more meaningful, long-term impact.
"We're not fussed about the actual coverage of our name this year – we're handing that over," Helena Morrissey, chief executive officer of Newton Investment Management told City A.M. "We'll be very much behind the scenes trying to raise money for them."
Both Newton and BNY Mellon will work together with Cancer Research UK as the race approaches, implementing fundraising initiatives for the charity which Morrissey says feeds into her company's socially-conscious to sponsorship.
"This goes to the heart of businesses being responsible to society and connecting with communities," she explained.
"I believe very firmly that actually it's not a question of going and cleaning up the river one afternoon. It's about all of the things that you do empowering your employees, making them proud of the place they work for, encouraging them to share in it and get involved.
"I feel very strongly that this is what it takes to be a modern and responsible business, we hope that others would then follow suit and we would see more companies thinking actually how could we use our sponsorships in different ways?"
David Searle, the executive director of the Boat Race Company, said: "In BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management we knew we had sponsors who would do something out of the ordinary…this amazing gesture is breaking new ground in sponsorship."
"We are enormously grateful to BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management for their generous donation," added Sir Harpal S. Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK.