FD in Five Minutes: Martin Cooper

Third Sector speaks to the finance director at The Conservation Volunteers, the community volunteering charity

Martin Cooper
Martin Cooper

What made you work in the charity sector? After six years in professional practice and 12 years in a large American multinational, Cargill, I was looking to do something a little different. Cargill had a philanthropic outlook. I led local corporate social responsibility activities for my business unit and a national partnership with the food waste charity Fareshare. This experience, together with my outside interests, made the move to the charity sector a natural one.

What do you do outside work? My wife and two young daughters keep me on my toes. I have led building projects at two Grade 1 listed churches, raising more than £350,000 over the past few years to deliver five projects. I attend an evangelical church with my family, serving on the audio-visual and mission teams. I also regularly ring the bells. I am a trustee of two local charities and, when time permits, I enjoy running and attending football matches – I am a member of the 92 Club and have also visited all the Scottish league grounds.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? My grandfather, who died aged 100 in 2013. He taught me to exercise my social responsibilities, to have a sense of fair play and to be humble. He also encouraged an appreciation of real ale. He was an inspirational character.

If you were charities minister for the day, what would you do? I would lobby the Chancellor, particularly regarding charitable rates relief, VAT and increasing tax incentives for individual and corporate giving.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? I believe the sector has a key role to play, but charities must build resilience and agility, adjusting to the challenging dynamic funding environment, to thrive in the future. There needs to be a flexible mindset towards strategic partnerships and applying, where appropriate, commercial principles while always keeping the needs of beneficiaries front of mind.

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