FD in Five Minutes: Graham Nicholls

Third Sector speaks to the financial controller at Plymouth & District Mind

Graham Nicholls
Graham Nicholls

What made you work in the charity sector? After the property market collapse, there were few opportunities for head-office management in finance and I decided to move out of the money "rat race" and give something back to the local community. I saw a volunteer opportunity with Plymouth & District Mind. The director discovered my financial background and asked if I would assist the charity with the budget for the daily kitchen it ran, and look at the office finances. It was not long before I took over running the day-to-day accounting.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? I have overseen the reduction of statutory funding from more than 90 per cent to less than 19 per cent of our total income, which has made us less vulnerable to any local cuts in community funding. Our eggs are no longer all in one basket.

What do you do outside work? I like to travel, walk and relax by the sea. I was heavily involved in local women’s football, chairing both the club and the South West Women’s Football League. Work commitments and travelling in Europe to project meetings meant that I had to step down from that post. I like to watch sport on TV – football and American football.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Yes and no. I am aware that many local community charities are failing because of local government cuts and because they have not had the opportunity to develop expertise in bid writing for contracts and grants from funding sources outside local government support. One thing is for sure – local charities, in general, over-deliver even when underfunded by local government. It is a resource that government should value and help to thrive. For every pound spent on local charity funding, ten times that amount is saved in the long term.

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