Finding your first voluntary accounting role

Have you always wanted to volunteer but are unsure where to start? Or maybe you’re keen to give back to the community but are overwhelmed by the number of options available?

There are lots of ways to give your time to help others. Whether it’s litter picking, spending time with an elderly neighbour or organising a charity bake sale, giving back to a worthy cause not only helps someone else but makes you feel good too!

Why volunteer?

Volunteering can help you build upon skills you already have and enable you to use them to benefit the greater community. For instance, you may be looking to move into a management position but haven’t had much experience with leadership and communication. By taking on a voluntary role, this could help to improve your problem solving and public speaking skills, as well as giving you the opportunity to meet new people.

Have you thought about combining your accountancy skills with some volunteer work? There are many NGO’s all over the world doing incredible work to tackle extreme poverty and inequality, but due to limited resources, are unable to access vital financial management training.

Why do NGOs need help from an accountant?

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is a not-for-profit, voluntary citizens’ group, which is organised on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good.

The development and growth of each and every economy hinge on how resources are carefully managed and multiplied. Accounting is all about cost saving and management which is the backbone of economic development and growth.

The need for support from accountants is largely driven by a lack of skills at a local level, combined with the complex reporting requirements of overseas donors. When you are a doctor, teacher or the founder of a small NGO trying to thrive with limited resources, it can be very difficult to keep accurate records and perform your everyday duties. With a different set of accounts, various formats and sometimes bank accounts required by each donor, having systems put in place to streamline these processes, can prove invaluable.

Accounting for international development (AfID)

AfID offers every type of accountant, from anywhere in the world the opportunity to use their skills to support a broad range of non-profit organisations globally. AfID pairs accountancy professionals with suitable assignments, based on their interests, skillset, dates available and preferred location.

Volunteer assignments can be between 2 weeks and 12 months or longer depending on the assignment.

The main focus of AfID assignments is to develop the skills, confidence, and potential of local people, enabling organisations to ultimately have the financial management capacity they need to deliver more sustainable programmes to their many beneficiaries, whilst maintaining good relations with their donors. Volunteers could be budgeting with a street child centre in Kampala (Uganda), coaching a hospital bookkeeper in Kigali (Rwanda) or financial reporting for a primary school in Kathmandu (Nepal).

Qualifying criteria

You will need to tick at least one of these to be able to volunteer with AfID:

  • more than 3 years of accounting experience
  • membership or affiliation to an accounting institute e.g. ICAEW, ICAS, ACCA, CIPFA, CIMA, CMA, CGA Canada; HKICPA; CPA, ICAA Australia; NZICA; CPA US
  • part-Qualified or AAT Accounting Technician with more than 5 years’ experience.

Below is an example of one of the volunteering opportunities currently available with AfID:

CAMBODIA | Sponsored Education for Children Living in Slums | 1- 2 MonthsThis NGO sponsors families to provide the opportunity for their children to go to school instead of working in the slums and rubbish dumps. They have asked for help to streamline recording of restricted donations, improve and implement cashflow forecasting templates and help to prepare them for audit. This role would be perfect for an AAT qualified accountant with 5 years’ experience. Discover more volunteering opportunities with AfID here.

Do you currently volunteer? We’d love to find out a little more about the type of volunteer work you do and the activities you undertake whilst volunteering so please take our 2-minute survey so we can find out more. Click here for members survey and here for the student survey.

Hannah Dolan is AAT Comment’s Content Editor.

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