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Member interview: A guide star for life

Steve Murrill from Philo Trust talks to Emma Abbott about being a CFG member and how CFG has helped him throughout his career, in charities large and small.

“We want to be professional. We want to be the best that we can be. And we want to be legal and up to date. CFG provides this.”

Steve Murrill has been a chartered accountant for almost 20 years. He has worked for charities large and small, in different parts of the country and overseas.

For most of his working life, CFG has been there every step of the way, to provide support, professional guidance and a listening ear.

Steve, who now works part-time as finance manager with faith organisation Philo Trust, explains: “I've worked for World Vision, which is one of the world’s major charities, and I’ve worked for some very small charities.

"You need different skills in both. I have found that CFG gives me access to people and knowledge in both arenas, which I've really appreciated.”

Among the many challenges Steve has tackled was bringing a charity back from the brink of insolvency. He explains: “The people I met from CFG at that time helped me determine the way forward. The accounting system needed to change, and I got a lot of support, especially when we moved to the new system.

"We weren’t sure at the time whether the charity was going to make it, but it’s still here to this day. Being a member of CFG in those early days was very, very helpful.”

Steve says that alongside the technical support CFG provides, there is also an element of credibility that is brought to the finance role.

He continues: “I found I was able to go into new roles as the professional. I could push back with confidence and say ‘no, this is the way to do it.’ To have that kind of back-up through organisations like CFG was invaluable.

“Membership is massive value for money, especially when you don’t have a large team to bounce ideas around with and you’re looking for support and encouragement.”

Today, Steve continues to attend CFG events and training, and last year attended CFG’s Annual Conference in London. “I met one of the speakers afterwards. We sat down and talked for about an hour about what we were struggling with. It was the openness that I found so helpful, and the offer to get in touch again.

“From a CPD point of view, CFG provides what I need and what the organisation needs. We’re a small charity. We want to be professional. We want to be the best that we can be. And we want to be legal and up to date. CFG provides all this, as a professional guide, but also as a mentoring guide too.”

Steve has also joined CFG's Mentoring Scheme and says he is getting a lot of it and, importantly, is giving something back by lending support to other charity finance professionals.

Talking about the challenges and joys of working in the sector more generally, he shares a short story:

“There’s this man walking along the beach, and there are thousands of starfish on it. He sees a child pick up a starfish and throw it back into the sea. There are thousands, but the child just keeps picking them up and throwing them into the sea.

"The man shouts: ‘What are you doing? You're not going to make any difference!’

The boy replies: ‘I'm making a difference to this one though’, and throws it in.

“Sometimes we think we can always do more to help, but you have made a difference," reflects Steve. "If we’ve helped one person, we’ve helped.”


This article was first published in CFG's Annual Trustees' Report 2021/22. With thanks to Steve for his time and sharing his experiences.

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