OCF was very sorry to hear that Colin Alexander passed away last week. Colin was a trustee of OCF for many years, and more recently was instrumental in creating and running the Step Change Fund.
Colin will be remembered as a good-hearted, proactive member of Oxfordshire’s community, and a superb administrator who brought his professional experience as a businessman and company director to OCF for the benefit of others.
He was an OCF trustee for ten years, from 2005 to 2015, during an important part of our history. As a trustee he helped steer the community foundation through the financial crisis, and took the lead on converting OCF from a Registered Charity to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation – a critical step in making sure we were stable and sustainable as an organisation.
Colin joined OCF as part of his involvement with the Adult Literacy Fund, a trust that helped adults of all ages develop skills for the modern world, such as training older people in IT, and cooking with embedded numeracy for young single mothers. The fund was transferred to OCF, where Colin took part in overseeing grant distribution from the fund’s investments.
After graduating from Oxford Colin joined ICI and then worked for three other public companies in senior financial posts, before founding his own business in 1976. This he built up over the next 20 years, before selling it and joining London East TEC as Head of the Small Business Unit for ten years.
Since 1998 Colin was involved with the economic development of Oxfordshire, initially as Director of Business Link Heart of England, and since April 2001 as Oxford Innovation’s Director of Consultancy and Projects. He was also a member of the Princes Trust Thames Valley Board.
On retiring as a trustee of OCF in 2015, Colin used much of this business development experience to come up with the idea for the Step Change Fund (then Future-Building Fund), alongside Marion Stevenson. This fund, which was created under OCF’s umbrella, uses investment from forward-thinking donors to help small to medium-sized charities scale up. Grants are made to boost infrastructure, to upgrade systems or to increase revenue streams, as the basis of strong, impactful organisations in the future.
Critical to the success of this grant-making programme is the inclusion of volunteer project managers, many of whom are Colin’s own personal business contacts, who help charity leaders plan and implement their infrastructure projects over a series of milestones. The system of support and reporting back on key performance indicators comes straight from the model employed by Colin during his work at Business Link. Thanks to the hard work of Colin and other members of the Step Change panel, this has now become OCF’s flagship grants programme, awarding £841,552 in grants to 23 different charities since 2014.
Colin died after a short illness on 24th September 2018, surrounded by his close family. OCF’s staff and trustees have sent their condolences to his wife Judy and their children and grandchildren.
Marion Stevenson comments: “Colin worked with me from 2013 to set up the Step Change Fund. As part of the panel, he then acted as administrator for panel meetings and as coordinator of the team of project managers, linking them with successful organisations and monitoring the outcomes. Colin’s attention to detail, his financial skills and his understanding of the levers that were relevant to the business and voluntary sectors were outstanding. Above all, Colin was someone who could be relied on. He consulted on what needed to happen, committed to his part in the work and he always delivered. It was a real joy to work with him.”
John Taylor, OCF’s Chair of Trustees and a good friend of Colin’s, comments: “OCF is most grateful for all the support and professional guidance Colin provided to the foundation over both his ten-year tenure as a trustee, and latterly in the creation with Marion of the innovative and highly regarded Step Change Fund. Colin was also a fellow member of Huntercombe Golf Club for many years, where he was a very popular and congenial member, always with a smile on his face. He is missed by many.”