Sam Weller Retired local businessman Sam Weller tells Florence Gildea how he came to be a Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) trustee
SAM WELLER IS a longstanding CCF trustee, working as a volunteer by chairing donor panels, managing visitors and advising the grants team, alongside his statutory responsibilities. He took on the role after a 36-year career with multinational company, Kodak. He explains that on retiring he wanted to “give back to the community what I had learned from, and experienced in, business life”. CCF, to whom he had previously entrusted the charitable giving of the Cambridge Kodak site, became the beneficiary of his expertise when he accepted the invitation to become a trustee. During his time as a trustee, Sam has worked assiduously to improve the effect of grants on their target communities through a two-strand approach. First, he has helped to make the process of monitoring the impact of grants more rigorous and effective. This, he explains, gives donors confidence that their money is being used effectively and means that the charities receiving grants from CCF can enjoy continuing, even increasing, financial assistance. The charities experience long-term benefits, since by reflecting on the impact of their projects they become better equipped to make a strong case for future funding, either from CCF or other funding bodies. This, Sam observes, represents “real added value”. CCF doesn’t just present money to charitable groups, but “increases their capacity”, helping them to develop much-needed fundraising skills, often after previous support from statutory budgets has been withdrawn or reduced.
12 / Apr-Jun 2017 / THE FORUM
The second strand to Sam’s approach has been to develop a systematic visiting programme whereby every project granted more than £1,500 is visited by a CCF volunteer. When using CCF to manage his Kodak team’s corporate social responsibility, Sam had appreciated the opportunity to visit projects funded by the company. Consequently, building up CCF’s capacity to visit multiple projects per week, is one of the achievements as a trustee of which he is most proud. To do this, Sam has built up and manages a team of volunteers who draw on their experience from their own working lives to give advice to the charitable groups they meet. Seeing the “human face” of CCF, he explains, also demonstrates that the organisation “is genuinely interested in the group, and recognises the value of what they are doing’’ as well as helping CCF strengthen relationships with the groups it seeks to serve. The reports produced after these visits add depth to how the grant is monitored, and work to build the trust of potential and actual donors in the value of their giving. In his time as a trustee, Sam says he is proud to have seen CCF gain recognition as the “go-to place for anybody who has money to give to the charitable sector, but isn’t sure about where to give it”, and “for small community groups and charities who are struggling to raise funds” by giving them access to a far wider range of donors than they would be able to reach themselves. Through CCF’s grant-monitoring, visiting programmes, and regular research project Vital Signs®, he has also seen CCF become an authority for advice on the most pressing needs in Cambridgeshire. “If I had to step back and describe my contribution to CCF,” Sam reflects, “it is primarily the improvement in the way we get monitoring data back from groups, as well as its quality, and the expansion of the visiting programme, which shows us to be a friendly, professional organisation that cares about the groups we support.”
PHOTOS: above left, Sam Weller, CCF trustee and Chair of the Grants and Community Impact Committee; above, Sam visits Home-Start Cambridgeshire (www.homestartcambridgeshire.co.uk)
The magazine of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.