Meet the Building Change Trust - Nigel McKinney
Nigel McKinney, left, with Building Change Trust Chair Bill Osborne.

Meet the Building Change Trust - Nigel McKinney

27 May 2014

Over the next couple of months, we are going to introduce our team at Building Change Trust. First up is Nigel McKinney, Director of Operations, who is responsible for the management of the services provided to the Trust by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI).

What does your role involve?

As the Trust doesn’t directly employ any staff itself, all of the work is either directly carried out by CFNI or by other organisations and managed by CFNI. Broadly speaking my work can be broken down into three categories:

Governance – working with and supporting the Board and ensuring compliance with company and charity legal requirements.

Strategy and programme development – oversight of processes to identify the themes and projects the Trust should focus on and then working to turn ideas into action.

Financial management – putting in place procedures to manage the Trust’s money, both to ensure good return on investment and also that best practice is followed in respect of procurement and payments.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of the job for me is in making things happen, turning ideas into action, as it is this that can bring benefits to the many individuals and organisations making up the Northern Ireland community, voluntary and social enterprise sector.

It’s great to look back and see the benefits that the work of initiatives such as CollaborationNI and Inspiring Impact NI have brought to the sector and also forward to the challenges with bringing the ideas in the Social Innovation and Creative Space for Civic Thinking action plans to fruition.

How did you get your role with Building Change Trust?

Between 2005 and the end of 2008 I was EU Programmes Manager with CFNI , managing CFNI’s role as an intermediary funding body in the delivery of various measures of the then Peace II and Peace II extension programme.

When that programme ended I was asked by CFNI to take on the role, which was then described as Trust Administrator.

I was given the business plan approved by BIG along with the background files and set about making it an operational reality working closely with the Trust Board and especially the Chairperson – Bill Osborne.

What aspect of your job do you find the most challenging?

There are lots of challenges. I’m not an expert on the areas of change in the sector that the Trust is engaging on, hence there’s always lots of listening and learning to be done.

The most challenging is that, with a small staff team working in complex areas, it can take time to make things happen and for benefits to be brought to the sector. 

However, over the years as the Trust has developed the team has grown from me working on my own to four people and as such we have been able to do a bit more and get things done more quickly.

What are the key issues facing the Trust at the moment?

We are always looking at how to strategically invest a relatively modest amount of money in themes and actions in respect of the sector in a way that can have maximum impact. 

The challenge is in picking the right strategic themes and then the actions to invest in.

How is your organisation responding to these issues?

The Trust is now clear about focusing on five key themes: Social Finance, Collaboration, Inspiring Impact, Creative Space for Civic Thinking, Social Innovation.

We have either completed or progressed action planning processes for each and commenced work on projects under each strand. 

What is the biggest goal on your agenda for the year ahead?

The goal is to work as required by the Trust Board to have actions taking place across all of the five themes and to be exploring and exploiting synergistic linkages across the themes. 

What work experience and qualifications helped you to get to your position?

My career in the voluntary sector is essentially built upon being a volunteer in the early 1990’s with the local arm of an international organisation called Service Civil Internationale.

I was at a bit of a loose end post university where I studied biochemistry and agricultural science and voluntary work led to a paid job as a volunteer organiser.

I’ve worked as a manager of a neighbourhood development organisation in Enniskillen but essentially have now been working with CFNI since 2001 on a range of funding programmes most notably the EU Peace programme. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m all for active relaxation and living in the Mournes makes that relatively easy.

Our family is trying to live the good life a bit and I grow fruit and veg and keep a few hens with varying degrees of success.

I love the mountains and walk and run them when possible. I enjoy a bit of cycling too and am a regular gym user. It’s always a battle against age and injury! 

I was a founder member of an athletics club in south Down and currently volunteer as an assistant coach with Newcastle Athletics Club Juniors which my own children attend. 

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

With three young children aged seven, eight and ten, it has to be parenthood. But that’s never so much of an achievement as a work in progress!

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