All businesses need accountants – and that includes schools. From financial planning, to scrutinising budgets, to holding senior leadership to account, schools rely on their governing body. School governors are the largest volunteer force in education, but thousands of primary and secondary schools across the country need volunteers to bring their skills to a governing board. Sam Butler is an accountant and a school governor at a primary school in Warsop, Nottinghamshire. Sam became a school governor using the free governor recruitment service provided by educational charity Governors for Schools. He talks about how he got into the role, how sitting on a governing board has helped his career, and why more accountants should think about getting involved in governance. When you think about a school, you don’t really think of a business. But modern schools are run like businesses and need to run efficiently whilst ensuring a positive student outcome, which brings unique challenges. Many Headteachers are career teachers and have worked into seniority from the outset. Whilst they look after the operational side of running a school, they don’t always have a broad range of business skills. That’s why it’s important to have other people working with the Headteacher – the governing board – to make sure the school has access to the expertise necessary to make the right decisions. Getting into governance I knew I wanted to do something that would expand my skillset, and I knew I wanted to volunteer. I found Governors for Schools online and decided to apply. It was an easy process and was turned over quite quickly – four weeks later I was a governor at my local primary school. As an accountant, I bring specific qualities to my governing board and give guidance around the school’s finances. Cuts are getting tighter and funding is already difficult so you need someone with financial acumen to find ways around those problems. As a governor, it’s your job to challenge credibility of information and accountability of the senior management, which as an accountant, is something that’s already part of the job. It’s a great opportunity to challenge the established ways of thinking while understanding why certain decisions are made. I feel more informed now to question proposals and decisions more robustly. Accounting in action Our governing board recently had to sign off the school budget. Historically, the governing board had done so without looking into the figures with too much scrutiny, but given my financial background I was keen to dissect and understand the reasoning behind the decisions. Looking into the budget was helpful for us as a governing board as it gave us the opportunity to challenge the parts we didn’t think were fair or realistic. I’ve asked to change the process so that we have visibility of the budget earlier, and can be more involved before it reaches the board for sign off. Develop your career Being a governor is good for your training and continued development as an accountant and it’s something I think more people should get involved in. I’ve seen how executive decisions are made, been part of board meetings, and made financial decisions that affect the wider business. I’ve enjoyed being exposed to a completely different field that I otherwise wouldn’t, and it’s been eye opening to see how difficult it can be to get education right. Initially, I went into the role thinking that it would be a great career move – which it is. But the connection I’ve developed with the students, the School and the wider community has since eclipsed the career benefits. Being a governor is such a worthwhile thing to be involved with - when you’re making these big decisions about budgets, policies and planning, you know that you’re affecting real people and shaping children’s futures, which is really fulfilling. It’s a great life choice as well as career choice. Volunteer opportunities If you’d like to find out more about becoming a school governor through Governors for Schools you can get in touch with the charity via email@example.com Schools can promote their school governor or other voluntary vacancies for free on icaewvolunteers.com. Create an account or log in to post a role. Interested in volunteering? Find a role.
I volunteer as a Trustee for CABA, the charity that supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members and their families, and which partners with ICAEW to provide www.icaewvolunteers.com. I also chair CABA’s Audit and Risk Committee (ARC). Preparing and attending board and committee meetings are a crucial part of my role, as well as balancing the current demands on the organisation with future needs of beneficiaries. Here are some of my thoughts on how I prepare for meetings, how they run and some of the competing priorities we consider. Setting strategy The Board meets four times a year and ARC three. In addition, the Board has an away day with management when we take time out to think about strategy and what’s going to impact the organisation over the coming years. CABA provides a wide range of wellbeing and support services to chartered accountants and their dependants. We are fortunate to be well funded thanks to a large legacy some years ago, but, although we do not have the fundraising challenges most other charities face, we know that this situation will come to an end and the money we have will not last forever. When we first received the funds we had to think about how to spend them in line with CABA’s objectives, which meant establishing new services and expanding the work force to provide them. Now we have three constant issues to address which usually get covered at the away day in the early autumn: What services could/should we offer? The list can be endless, but we have to decide whether they will add value for many (in which case are they affordable long term?) or whether they are ‘one-offs’ which might benefit a few but are still worth doing. Who are our beneficiaries? Our beneficiaries are defined as ‘members of ICAEW’. The Institute is developing a number of new designations and qualifications and we need to understand whether those taking these up are members and, therefore, beneficiaries. How do we ensure our potential beneficiaries are aware of CABA and what we can offer? A task which has been made more complex by GDPR! Getting prepared for meetings CABA uses Board Pad, a secure online meeting and collaboration tool, so we receive all papers electronically about a week before the meeting. Sadly, it is the case as a NED or Trustee that you often find you have to give up part of your weekend to read papers! And having spent a lifetime working with paper, I am working hard to get used to electronic papers. I often print off the agenda so I’ve something to scribble on and I still ask for a hard copy of ARC papers as I can’t cope with chairing a meeting using an iPad yet! In terms of preparation time, this will vary with each individual and the topics on the agenda, but I always assume reading and understanding the papers will take nearly as long as the meeting itself. You can probably get away with less than that but that might inhibit your ability to join in with the discussion at the Board meeting which would be a shame as that is the best part. In the meeting you might find most people have reached the same conclusion as you, or someone has an additional piece of information or background that changes everything or that someone else has reached a different conclusion based on the same information . Either way, lively discussion can ensue, from which you can learn, but in the end the Board has to agree on the way forward. Worthwhile time commitment Being a Trustee does take time and commitment. As well as reading the papers themselves you do need to read around them and keep up to date with the industry – I belong to the ICAEW’s Charity and Voluntary Community which helps me to do this. But, whatever your background and whatever the charity you’re working with, you can always make a contribution if you join in and that’s what makes it worthwhile. Find your ideal volunteer role.
Joe Ryan has been a chartered accountant with ICAEW since 1974. After a 35 year career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, of which the last 24 years were as a partner, Joe retired and took up a number of non-executive roles. Here he tells us about his new volunteer role. Where are you volunteering? I’ve just started a role with the Salvation Army a charity that does great work. Before starting I knew a fair amount about their work helping people in poverty, but I’ve been finding out more about different aspects of what they do including the support they provide for victims of modern slavery. What is your role? I’ve just started as a member of the charity’s Audit Committee. I had my interview around four weeks ago and my first committee meeting on Monday so it is still early days. The time commitment isn’t extensive – around 4 or 5 days a year, with additional time reading the papers beforehand. The committee is looking to ensure that the governance across the organisation is strong and effective. This means that my role will often involve asking difficult questions – and making sure we get the right answers! How have your existing skills and experiences helped you? With the skills and experience that I’ve built up throughout my career, I think there’s a lot I can bring and I’m keen to do that. I’ve always enjoyed negotiating, solving problems and being a trouble shooter – skills that were an important part of my job as a senior partner at PwC for a number of years - and am excited to use these skills at the Salvation Army. Here I’m looking forward to getting to know people and helping as much as I can, both in my role on the Audit Committee and more widely where needed. What motivated you to volunteer? A couple of reasons. Firstly I wanted to do something to give back. The Salvation Army does a lot of good and looks after people who really need it so I’m happy to be a part of that. Secondly because I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic. I’m retired now but still want to keep busy – in the past I’ve sat on some as a non-executive on some brilliant charities and organisations, among them Commonwealth Games England where I was a NED – I’m sports mad so that was ideal for me! What would you say to anyone considering signing up to ICAEW Volunteers? Just go for it! I was surprised on signing up to see the huge variety of roles advertised, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find one that interests you. Find your ideal volunteer role.
The theme of Volunteers Week 2018 is ‘Volunteering for All’ – a great reminder that whoever you are, there’s a volunteering opportunity out there that’s just right for you. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking… Become a charity trustee or treasurer: many of the vacancies advertised on www.icaewvolunteers.com are for board members with finance skills. A charity may be looking specifically for a treasurer, or an individual to bolster finance and business skills on the board. Being a trustee is a rewarding role and with the broad range of charities looking for Chartered Accountants to serve in their leadership there’s lots of scope to find a role that matches the time commitment you’re able to give. As well as a fantastic way to ‘give something back’ it’s a great way to develop professional and personal skills. Start the new term as a school governor: similar to a trustee role, there are lots of schools, academies and multi-academy trusts looking for governors or directors to join their governing bodies. Overseeing a large budget within challenging financial constraints, recruiting senior staff, understanding the curriculum, and ensuring that premises are well-maintained are just a few of the issues school governors deal with. It’s easy to see why individuals with finance and business skills are so important to the education sector. And you don’t need to be a parent to be a brilliant school governor. Impart your knowledge as an adviser or mentor: maybe a charity in your area needs some guidance to strengthen its internal controls, or someone to act as a sounding board for the development of a new service or social enterprise activity. Can you use your expertise to support them by providing one-off or ongoing guidance to the trustees or senior staff? There are also lots of charities that provide advice services to beneficiaries – such as tax advice to older people, budgeting to low-income families or financial planning within a prison setting – who often need volunteers with specialist knowledge to help beneficiaries. Support a small charity as an independent examiner: smaller charities aren’t required to undergo an audit but must still ensure their accounts are examined externally. Carrying out the independent examination for a charity with a cause close to your heart can provide valuable support without requiring an ongoing commitment. With different financial year ends, you could support a collection of charities throughout the year! Looking for something a bit different to the day job? Become a coach for your favourite sport: the inaugural Coaching Week UK is taking place 4-10 June 2018 as a week-long celebration of great coaching taking place across the nation. What better time to explore becoming a coach in your free time? Do your bit to fundraise: charities are always looking for ways to sustain and grow their income, and the range of fundraising activities they’re engaged in is broad. Whether it’s checking the figures in a funding bid, giving insight into how to reach out to potential corporate donors or helping to organise a fundraising event there are lots of ways to help charities raise more for the causes they support. Explore one of the hundreds of other regular or one-off volunteering roles available: from helping run a Scout group or local Girls Brigade to getting stuck in with a gardening or DIY project to help maintain a charity’s premises, being a ‘reading buddy’ in a local school or library to serving a shift in a theatre café or charity shop, there’s no shortage of charities that need people like you to help bring out the best in society. What will you do today to do your bit? Need more inspiration? Check out the roles on www.icaewvolunteers.com.
As we celebrate Volunteers Week 2018 we look at some of the stats relating to volunteering… £22.6bn - the estimated value of the contribution volunteers make to helping UK charities – that’s 1.2% of GDP! 19.8m – the number of people in the UK (37%) who volunteered formally at least once in 2016/17. 11.9m - the number of people in the UK (22%) who volunteered formally at least once a month during 2016/17. 950,000 – the number of charity trustee roles which are filled by c.700,000 individuals for the 168,000 charities in England and Wales. £76bn – the annual income of registered charities in England and Wales. 75% of registered charities have an income <£100k. 150,000 - the estimated number of new trustees appointed each year by existing and new charities in England and Wales. These figures highlight just how important volunteers are to a thriving charity and voluntary sector – and therefore society as a whole. But volunteering doesn’t just benefit charities and the people they support. Research and feedback from volunteers tells us that volunteering is good for those individuals too: Providing a good balance with work and family life. Developing new skills and honing leadership ability. Enhancing wellbeing and boosting self-confidence. That’s why CABA and ICAEW encourage our members to volunteer. 4,540 people – the number of individuals signed up to www.icaewvolunteers.com to find a volunteering role. We want to say a big THANK YOU to all ICAEW members who volunteer their time in all sorts of ways, to serve their communities and help charities to make a real difference to the people they support. New to volunteering? There is no shortage of voluntary roles and different types of not-for-profit organisations – so there’s something out there for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a finance-related role or to use your business skills indirectly, take a look at www.icaewvolunteers.com for a great range of volunteering roles. Source: NCVO and Taken on Trust: the awareness and effectiveness of charity trustees in England and Wales published November 2017
Getting the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience on your board can give your organisation the greatest chance of success. Diversity on a board means that a variety of individuals with different characteristics, backgrounds and ways of thinking come together to think about, discuss and make decision about the management of their organisation. A diversity on your board will bring a greater breath of experience and knowledge to your board discussions. It avoids the pit-falls of ‘group-thinking’ and opens the opportunities for more creative and innovative thinking. A wider perspective also ensures that your planning and decision making is more thorough as you will be able to explore fully the options available. For example, bringing a service user on board could enable you to better understand any gaps in your service or to think about the impact of new initiatives on current users. How to recruit a diverse board The first step will be to look at your current board. Do you have the right skills, knowledge, and experience to navigate the challenges and opportunities that your organisation is facing? Get to know your board and think about the qualities of the members and the dynamic between them. Are there any gaps in the way the board thinks through information and makes decisions? For example, if individual board members tend to be quite focussed on detail would you benefit from a board member that looks at the bigger picture? Once you have worked out what you need, think about where you might be able to find the skills and qualities that you are looking for. Who do you want to see the advert? Where would they look for a volunteering role? What type of advert would attract them? Think about whether there are any obstacles to joining your board and provide reassurances. For example, the board role is unpaid but reasonable expenses are reimbursed. Think your recruitment process through carefully to make sure you draw out the information you need to decide if the person has the set of skills and qualities you need. Make sure that the process is one that suits your preferred type of candidate. You should also think about who should be involved in the recruitment of your board. For example, if you work with young people why not invite a couple them to join the interview panel or to meet the candidates informally beforehand. Once you have appointed your board member think about what support they need to flourish in their role. If this is their first appointment, think about what training they might need about board member. If they are not familiar with your organisations’s activities, this is something you should include in their induction. Do keep taking stock of your board – as the organisation develops or the environment changes you might need new qualities and perspectives.
CC20 – Charities and Fundraising: a guide to trustee responsibilities is the Charity Commission’s guidance for trustees on fundraising. It was in part driven by the fundraising crises of 2015 and perceived weaknesses in charity governance. The guide states explicitly that trustees can not delegate ultimate legal responsibility for fundraising to executive staff. While it encourages trustees to delegate operation of effective ‘fundraising systems’, collectively trustees take ultimate responsibility for design and compliance of these systems. There are six main principles to CC20: • fundraising strategy and planning; • supervising fundraisers (including third parties); • protecting the charity’s reputation and assets; • complying with laws and regulations; • living up to relevant standards; • being open and accountable. The first principle focuses on coherence between a charity’s values and its fundraising practice. It seeks balance, ensuring trustees don’t step back when income is flowing or micromanage when money is tight. A more strategic and longer-term approach is best practice. The second principle emphasises accountability for third-party paid and volunteer fundraisers. Under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016, audited larger charities must also reference their third party fundraising contracts and policies in their annual reports. The third principle connects fundraising activity and charity reputations. Trustees have an important role here. They also need to be realistic about what to expect from investments in fundraising, both in the short and the longer term. Principles four and five deal with a range of rules for fundraising. Given on-going changes to regulation, trustees must update their compliance checks for all aspects of fundraising. The guidance sign-posts trustees to other regulatory bodies, such as the Fundraising Regulator, Information Commissioner’s Office and Gambling Commission, etc. Finally, CC20 highlights the need to account for fundraising activity, performance and policies in a charity’s annual report and accounts. Openness is good fundraising practice. Donors need to have confidence that their funds are being used to achieve the impact predicted by the charity. Dan Fletcher Director (Fundraising) Kingston Smith Fundraising and Management Dfletcher@ks.co.uk 020 7566 3826 @DanFletcherKSFM
I’ve been a trustee of a small charity for 11 years. Our one employee retired 18 months ago after 20 years in the role. We’ve just appointed a replacement on a part-time basis – to reduce costs and encourage our beneficiaries to use their talents to serve the organisation. Change is on its way, and this is how we’ll navigate it. Brace yourself to ride the wave Whether we’re actively looking for a change or it’s thrust upon us, it can be daunting. But like a surfer waiting for that big wave, once it arrives it can also be exhilarating. Change is inevitable for an organisation to stay relevant and effective. It might be nerve-racking but there will be positive outcomes. Standing still can be a greater risk than accepting change. Keep an open mind Our new employee is full of ideas and enthusiasm. It would be easy to quash them with: “But we’ve tried that before” or “We haven’t got the resources”. They could quickly become demotivated or defiant. Don’t stifle their thinking: it’s a breath of fresh air. Be flexible and willing to try new or different approaches, and try to take an objective view on what’s suggested. Don’t compromise on core values If you’re a charity you need to act within your charitable objectives. Having a strong sense of purpose and fixing your eyes on your organisation’s core values will help you test ideas and filter the ones that are right for you. You can’t do it alone If you’re the one leading change, remember you can’t do it alone. You must have the support and input of key stakeholders or you won’t succeed in creating sustainable change. Working to bring people together is critical. You might not win over everyone, but if you can clearly explain why change is happening, how it will affect people and their place in that, you’re more likely to win hearts as well as minds. Pace yourself and keep tracking Change doesn’t happen overnight, and momentum will dwindle if you try and do everything at once. Identify what the priorities are and recognise that some changes will need time to process emotionally as well as practically. Create clear objectives and ensure you’re monitoring outcomes, to track your progress. If something isn’t working have the courage to modify or abandon it. Positive change requires trust and understanding. As we set out on our new journey, difficult decisions and courage may be needed but a shared commitment to look positively to the future is a great first step into the unknown.
Starting a new voluntary role can be just as daunting as starting a new job. You ask yourself questions like how will I fit into the team? And will this be more of an undertaking than I first thought? In order to combat these worries before you accept a voluntary role you should make sure you and the organisation are on the same page with regards to the role profile and level of commitment expected. Get to know the organisation You may be volunteering with a charity or association that you don’t know but needs your expertise. Get to know what they do, who they help and how they operate. Knowledge equips you, not only to do a better job with greater efficiency, but to alleviate those first day nerves. Be clear about your commitment It’s more useful to both the organisation and yourself if you have clear boundaries as to when you can give your time and how often. This should be established from the offset; they can of course be flexible but it’s always good to have a solid starting point. Ask other volunteers If you work in an office environment you will find that there are many people who take the time to volunteer, whether it be using their expertise in finance or in a more casual way. Even if your roles aren’t exactly the same, other volunteers can give you a bit of insight into common sticking points or the benefits they’ve gained through regular volunteering. Remember that you are offering your skills The organisation is asking for your help. When you applied for the role you understood the type of jobs you would be taking part in. You know your own experience and expertise, yet we can all occasionally let doubt creep in but if your initial instinct was ‘I can do this’ you probably can! Trust your skills! What if I don’t like it? That’s ok! Not every role is going to be suitable for every volunteer. You might have worked at it and found it still doesn’t fit with your time available, life outside of the organisation or, the role isn’t quite what you expected it to be. Make your reasons clear to the organisation and give them plenty of notice, giving you the opportunity to move onto something more suited to you and them the chance to find someone better suited to their role. If you love volunteering for that particular charity, have you thought about asking what other opportunities there are in other areas? Taking a step into the unknown can be daunting but with a bit of preplanning and a few honest conversations you can equip yourself fully to start volunteering feeling confident that it’s the best fit for you and the charity.
Many of the messages we typically encounter in the media about older people in society focus on problems like social isolation, the lack of intellectual stimulation and the loss of purpose and identity. These factors all have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of older people. The good news is that there is a simple, yet effective way to reverse these trends - volunteering. In the 'Volunteering in Retirement' report from Volunteering Matters, former Chief Executive Lucy de Groot writes: "There are 14 million people over 60 years of age with a lifetime's worth of knowledge, skills, and experience to share. Retirement is an opportunity for you to use and develop your skills and talents further than you thought possible." What are the benefits of volunteering in retirement? #1 Improved wellbeing and good mental health. In a recent study conducted by the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham and published in the BMJ, researchers found that, particularly for older volunteers, there was a significant improvement in wellbeing and mental health as a result of their voluntary work. #2 Improved physical health. Studies have found that older volunteers have a lower mortality rate than those who do not volunteer. They tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. #3 Sense of achievement. Volunteering can have a real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general. It is really satisfying to know that you have helped solve a problem or changed another person’s life. #4 Social engagement. Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people and make new friends. It provides an opportunity to practice and develop your social skills in a structured way. #5 New skills. Volunteering can help you learn new skills and gain experience.
The Stockport Plaza is a charitable trust that manages the Stockport Super Cinema and Variety theatre, built in 1932; the only remaining open dual use cinema and theatre in the UK. The building is a great example of Art Deco with a Grade 2 * listing, which was restored by the trust with national lottery and other grant funding during 2007/8. Since then we have received no other grant funding and must cover our costs by our activities. We have a turnover of £1.8m and have shows, including our pantomime, and films on 280 nights of the year as well as running front of house bars and a café restaurant open during the day time. We also have a number of other activities using the building, whether educational or events such as weddings and school prize givings. What prompted the charity to sign up to icaewvolunteers.com and what volunteer role were you looking for? I’m one of the Trustees and perform finance functions of the charity including overseeing the preparation of management accounts and the budget process. As the Treasurer, and with experience of other charities, I knew the importance of good financial management and advice on the Board and having two other trustees with a finance background on the board ensured a greater degree of resilience and independence. We have had deficits over three years and a strategy to correct that which is now bearing fruit, which emphasised the importance of finance skills. We were looking for trustees with skills in the areas of financial management, business and strategy planning, risk management and commerce. The ICAEW qualification gives all of this and members develop these skills further throughout their career. icaewvolunteers.com gave access to qualified people who might be interested in a financial management role with our charity. What would you say to an organisation or individual thinking of signing up to icaewvolunteers.com? Through the advertising process, supported by the ICAEW team, we were able to have applications from two good candidates and have already appointed one of those people. As a charity, avoiding recruitment costs and being able to access the right calibre of people, was a real benefit. I see the website as a real benefit to ICAEW members and others, as it has supported me in my own volunteer roles, giving back to the community, as well as from the perspective of an organisation looking for volunteers. I would recommend it to fellow members.
I retired in 2013. Prior to that I worked for Shell in the UK for over 30 years, mostly located in London with a short spell in exotic Welwyn Garden City. My career included commercial management, economics, M&A, all kinds of accounting, and risk management. It took in large businesses and small “start-up” organisations and plenty of travel. Arts 4 Dementia is a small charity (turnover £100k) with two employees. The charity focuses on the benefit of arts activities for people living with dementia in the community in particular, rather than hospitals and care homes. Dynamic involvement in arts-related activities has been shown to significantly alleviate symptoms, to re-energise and inspire people in the early stages of dementia so that they can enjoy greater freedom and independence and remain in their home environment. It runs arts workshops for people with dementia and trains artists and facilitators to work with them. It also aims to develop best practice and promote this in the NHS, and to government and arts organisations. What motivated you to offer your skills as a volunteer? I looked to voluntary roles to use and maintain my professional skills, do something “useful” to justify my existence after a fulfilling career, and to give something back to the community. What does your volunteering role involve? I joined in September 2015 as a trustee and honorary treasurer. The original commitment was one day a month for accounting, which is done in a spreadsheet, plus six Board meetings a year. In reality, as well as producing monthly management accounts, annual budgets and the draft annual report, I am involved in developing strategy, policy documents on varied topics like data protection and privacy, conflicts of interest and related parties as well as financial policy and procedures. I also advise and mentor the Chief Executive on anything that he wants help with, so my commitment is probably 1-2 days a week. What have you found to be most rewarding about being a trustee? Being able to help a worthy cause. It is also very satisfying to see how your experience and skills are valued in a small organisation! What are the key challenges your trustee board has faced? The relationship between staff and trustees. As a small organisation trustees can easily get very involved in providing advice and a helping hand which is necessary for the charity to work, but does not help them maintain independence and oversight (the opposite can also be true: they may not get involved enough). What would you say to someone who is thinking of becoming a charity trustee? Just do it, but be clear about your commitment. As “finance” trustee it is easy to find yourself as the only person with wide commercial experience and to be expected to contribute more than you may have expected. Other trustees come to rely on you. Complete the sentence: A charity trustee is… a friend and advisor to senior management, but must also maintain independence to ensure that he or she can provide effective oversight and ensure effective governance.
SGOSS Governors for Schools – the school governor recruitment charity - regularly uses www.icaewvolunteers.com to find School Governors. We asked SGOSS for their top tips on attracting and recruiting volunteers. Volunteer’s Week (1st-7th June 2017) is a great time to thank ICAEW volunteers that strive to make a difference. It is important to recognise the hard work, time and energy, selfless people put back into their communities. For charities, there is no better time to encourage people to get involved and to raise awareness of the myriad volunteering opportunities available. This of course comes with its own set of challenges and so SGOSS Governors for schools (www.becomeagovernor.com), the school governor recruitment charity, has put together 5 key areas charities should consider when looking to attract volunteers: Your website - make sure your website clearly states the service your organisation provides to volunteers and the outcomes you hope to achieve. Your advert – what could be more important than having a clear outline of the role and the responsibilities of the volunteer opportunity – what are they getting involved in? What impact can they have? Make it read like a job description. Your application form – it should capture as much information about the volunteer as possible – include a skills audit so you can see what immediate impact a volunteer can have and will also identify areas for training. Your advertising - look at as many advertising opportunities as possible and over time you will work out which is effective for you. Many can be done for free with social media or the local press. Attend business networking sessions for greater exposure with companies you want to work with and keep going if you are not successful straightaway. Your team - have a team who are enthusiastic, determined and knowledgeable about the role. If they aren’t engaged, why should your audience be? We believe these are the fundamentals that need to be right in order to get your message across clearly. After over 17 years recruiting volunteers for skilled volunteering professions, SGOSS would also like to share our 5 top tips for savvy recruiting: Use free channels like icaewvolunteers.com to get volunteers from a particular employment background Offer a wider range of volunteering choices. At SGOSS we offer places at nursery level up to College and every phase of state education in-between. Offer networking events so volunteers can meet other professionals from the sector and discuss the latest developments, such as ICAEW’s Annual Charity Conference or NCVO Trustee Conference. ‘Speed dating events’ are a great way for schools/charities to meet many potential volunteers when everyone is pushed for time. Produce concise and attractive looking recruitment materials with contact details so potential volunteers can get in touch easily. They do not cost a lot to make and will make all the difference. You need to cater to your audience and finding a free way to do this is of enormous value. Being able to promote through a successful website like icaewvolunteers.com allows fantastic access to professional people. With their site in particular, a user is able to see how many people have looked at your advert and who has applied directly from the website which is great for tracking lead sources and refining your recruitment strategy. What’s more, expressions of interest come straight to your email so you can contact leads immediately; there are so many willing and available people that you are bound to gain some traction and you know ICAEW members make great volunteer school governors. Schools are under increasing financial pressure and need the right expertise to ensure that the staff and students are fully resourced. The good news is that are some great tools available to local schools and other organisations to help find the professional experience needed to make the right decisions.
Volunteering for a charity or not-for-profit organisation can be immensely rewarding for you as an individual, as well as having obvious benefits for the organisation. Here are just 10 reasons why we think volunteering is great for ICAEW members. It gives you a chance to ‘give something back’ – to your local community, an organisation or cause that you care about, or the wider public. We know from feedback that this is an important motivation for our members to volunteer. It’s good for you. Research by the University of Wales, Lampeter found that volunteering can increase volunteers’ longevity, improve their mental health, keep them fitter and enable them to cope better with illness when it comes. A study by the Royal Voluntary Service into volunteering in later life found that it can decrease depression and social isolation as well as boosting quality of life and life satisfaction compared to non-volunteers. Because variety is the spice of life. A voluntary role doesn’t just increase the number of things you spend your time doing, it can introduce you to new experiences, people and opportunities on a regular basis, even in a single role. It keeps things in perspective. Comparing ourselves to others often isn’t constructive but helping someone who is facing a difficult situation or is in some ways less fortunate can help us become more realistic, grounded and positive about our own circumstances. It’s inspiring – for you and others. Chances are you’ll come into contact with someone who has an amazing story, or unique perspective coming out of their good and bad experiences. You may well be the inspiration to someone else too, whether it’s someone you’re supporting or a fellow volunteer. Never underestimate the power of your own story, which may give someone the drive they need to keep on going when life seems tough. It’s fun! There are a vast array of different volunteering opportunities in all sorts of organisations and places, so you’re bound to find something that you enjoy. Whether you have a craving for amateur dramatics, you’re a secret horticulturalist or you feel passionate about helping young people reach their potential there are plenty of ways to have fun whilst volunteering. It’s a great way of meeting new people and expanding your social circle. You can meet people you’d never normally come into contact with, bringing fresh perspectives as well potential friends. It develops your ability to work as part of a team. Volunteering is rarely a completely solitary experience and it can give you a chance to see how you contribute to a team in a different context to your usual work environment and role. You can learn new skills and use existing skills in different ways. Maybe you’re in a junior role and long for a chance to think more strategically or in a leadership capacity. A suitable voluntary role can help you develop your CV, increase your chances of promotion or enable you to move into a new sector or role, whatever point you’re at in your career. You can explore an interest or hobby or use skills that don’t feature in your day job. Perhaps you’re in a senior role and miss being so ‘hands on’ at work. Volunteering can fill this gap. Not only is this fulfilling in itself, it can lead to greater job satisfaction as you feel more content overall that you’re using your skills and passion to their full extent.
It’s probably worth clarifying up front that the role I was placed in is a Trustee of a Multiple Academy Trust (MAT), rather than a traditional school governor. The role of the Trustee in a MAT does vary between trusts, depending on the objects and the schemes of delegation in place. I have been more focussed on governance and finance at this point in the trust’s development. What motivated you to become a school governor? I was looking for a voluntary position in my local community where I could use the skills I had as a Chartered Accountant to improve “something”. A wide brief! I noticed an opportunity advertised on icaewvolunteers.com at a local school, applied, and started working with the Northern Star Academies Trust. The opportunity which arose was as a trustee of a soon-to-be-formed Multiple Academy Trust. There were some really unique features of the trust and I found the leadership inspiring. The chance to get onto the board for a Trust seeking to grow and improve education in further schools was too good to turn down! What have you found to be most rewarding about being a school governor? I feel like it’s early days for me as a trustee and indeed the trust in general but it’s a nice feeling to walk around the schools knowing that you have played a part in their successful operation and helped to ensure its development and improvement. The expectations of governance in a Trust are set at a high level. I like that I can use my skills and time to assist in meeting these responsibilities so that the schools leadership can achieve the best outcomes for students. Academisation has been, and continues to be, a major change to the school system. It’s great to be part of this and to try to ensure that it does deliver benefits to the education system of this county. What are the main challenges that your governing body have faced? The Northern Star Academies Trust only came into being in April 2015 so the initial focus is to ensure the trust grows and develops appropriately. Identifying and integrating further schools which could join the MAT will be a key challenge in the short term. One school has already joined and the implications will be different each time this happens. The two founder schools were operating as separate academies previously but the Board is mindful to ensure that appropriate governance is in place as the trust grows and as the central services offered by the trust develop. How have your existing skills and experiences helped you as a governor? The trust was looking for somebody with experience in finance and related risk management which are within my skill set. I have been able to assist the board with matters such as the MAT finance manual and the risk register, for example. I aim to bring the perspective of commercial business to the Trust, where is it appropriate, and use my broader network bring benefit to the trust. How important do you think a governing body is to the success of a school? The Trust board is essential to the success of the school. They set the vision and strategic direction for the trust, then ensure this vision is met, within the financial and other resource constraint which exist. What would you say to someone who is thinking of volunteering as a school governor? Do it. If not you then who? Complete the sentence “A school governor is …” …essential to ensuring that every child gets the best education, and therefore the best life chance, possible.
From 1 January 2016 all ICAEW Charity and Voluntary Sector Group members will have Professional Liability Insurance for their UK volunteering activities included as part of their membership fee. The insurance will cover all activities performed with UK charities and not-for-profit organisations. This includes trustee work and the provision of pro bono professional services. In addition, an attractive feature of the policy is that it also extends to cover non-financial activities undertaken on a volunteering basis, for example volunteer gardening or volunteering with sports clubs. The inclusion of the cover now clarifies the position for members who provide pro bono independent examinations and trustee functions on charity boards whilst acting solely in their personal capacity. Members who charge for such services will still need to obtain a practising certificate and will not be covered for their paid work under this policy.
Guidance is available on the ICAEW website for members who are acting as trustees and volunteering with charities. ‘Acting as a trustee’ sets out the basic principles to follow when acting as a trustee. It contains general information about the appointment, roles and responsibilities and general powers of trustees. ‘Volunteering for a charity’ gives an overview of the key membership considerations when thinking about volunteering. It contains information about the ways in which ICAEW supports members engaging as volunteers.
Interview with Charles Inigo-Jones, Assistant to the Treasurer at Breadline I qualified with Arthur Andersen in 1989, then joined Charterhouse Bank to work in M&A and corporate finance for 3 years. I then went travelling and returned to join the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) where I had a first taste of the non-profit / ‘third sector’. I left the EBRD in 2005 and have since held various finance roles in private equity owned businesses ranging from small entrepreneurial companies to Southern Water. I’m now looking to transition into the charity sector. In hindsight, working for an NGO like the EBRD taught me how to work where money isn’t a key motive – it’s given me a good grounding! What prompted you to offer your skills on icaewvolunteers.com? I want to move my paid career into the charity sector and thought icaewvolunteers.com would help in my transition. I’m also studying for a part-time Masters in Charity Accounting and Financial Management at Cass Business School working on short-term financial planning and management projects for charities, but I wanted some hands on accounting experience in the area. What type of role were you looking for? I was looking for a role that was local in the first instance that would give me hands on experience – an opportunity to use my skills in a new sector. I wasn’t looking for a trustee role, which tends to be more stand-offish. How many roles did you apply for? I just applied for one role – Assistant to the Treasurer of Breadline. What does your volunteering role involve? I’m responsible for managing online donations. This involves some data manipulation and reconciliation, which I then package up for the Treasurer to feed into the accounting system. What has been the high point of your work with the charity? I only joined in November so it’s early days yet. It took a while to get to grips with CAF Donate and the requirements of gift aid. For now I am just happy to be learning and (I hope) contributing to the finance processes and overall charity work! Have you found the scheme rewarding? If so, why? I’ve found the task and working with the charity’s Treasurer very rewarding. Overall, the role is providing me with great experience and learning – it’s been an ideal first step in my career transition into the charity sector. Would you recommend the scheme to your peers? If so, why? I’d definitely recommend the website - I found it helpful, easy to use, and well stocked with volunteering opportunities.
Interview with Sophia Dalley, Carefree Kids www.carefreekids.org Carefree Kids provides affordable therapeutic play sessions to local children using community volunteers. It was established by Ros Kane, a former head teacher at local primary school in 2005. Carefree kids’ main service is the provision of one-to-one therapeutic play sessions in school time for 3-16 year olds in over 25 schools in Waltham Forest, Newham and Redbridge in London. What prompted the charity to sign up to the ICAEW volunteering website? The organisation has huge work load and small amount of funded staff hours. Icaewvolunteers.com was suggested by one of the current Trustees. Which role were you looking for to help with the charity? Finance Volunteer How quickly was the role filled and did you have many applicants? There were around seven applicants for the role and it took around a month for the position to be filled What does the volunteer do for the charity? The volunteer is responsible for financial record keeping, invoicing and bagging coins, along with more general office duties Has the volunteer helped the charity to do anything differently or achieve something they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to? The volunteer helped Carefree Kids to achieve its deadlines for invoicing and banking For anyone thinking of signing up to icaewvolunteers.com, what do you think it can offer them? Icaewvolunteers.com is an excellent resource for finding hard working & dedicated volunteers.
Active 8 works with young people in Cornwall, between 15 - 25 years old, with physical disabilities. It has been running since 1990 and was awarded charity status in 1998. We have a turnover of between £50,000 and £85,000 per annum and run four projects with the money we raise. What prompted the charity to sign up to the ICAEW volunteering website? Having been without a treasurer for nearly 2 years and having 3 failed attempts to take someone on, it was suggested to us. Which role were you looking for to help with the charity? Trustee and honorary treasurer. How quickly was the role filled and did you have many applicants? Once the advert went up on the website, we had three enquiries within 48 hours! That sort of thing just does not happen in Cornwall! I rang them all. One lived in Plymouth, which is 50 miles from where we hold trustee meetings, and we agreed it was too far away. One told me all about how difficult the charity was that he was working with already. And then there was Mike Mansfield. He had experience with youth charities already and sounded really interested, and enthusiastic. What does the volunteer do for the charity? In the first three months, he encouraged our very unconfident volunteer bookkeeper and helped him to pull the annual accounts together for inspection. With our manager, he worked out project budgets so that in future we’ll know what we’ve spent and what we have left, which will make a huge difference to the way we work. He took on our frustratingly complex online banking service and set it up so we can now pay bills in under a week (at last!). He engaged our trustees in the process and helped us learn how to use it. Above and beyond that, he showed up at the beach to meet all the young people on the first weekend he could. And he hasn’t really stopped since! Has the volunteer helped the charity to do anything differently or achieve something they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to? He’s made it possible to plan and work a whole lot more effectively. For anyone thinking of signing up to icaewvolunteers.com, what do you think it can offer them? Easy access to people with the skills they need, who want to get involved. Over our two years without a Treasurer, I must have asked every accountant or bookkeeper I ever knew, but they weren’t up for doing something new in their spare time. It helped us find the person who was, and had the skills our charity needed.
Interview with Mike Mansfield volunteer at Active 8 and Catholic Free School in Cambourne I qualified with Peat Marwick as it then was in 1972. I then joined the London branch of a German Landesbank as administrator with a focus on tax and accounting matters. While there, I ended up designing and installing an EDP (electronic data processing) system in the foreign branches with special emphasis on FX accounting, followed by other IT systems and IT planning on an international level. In 2005 I was made redundant and so set up as a sole trader through the AIMS franchise. I traded for six years working for SMEs in Essex and Norfolk. I managed to sell the business and retired four years ago. I have since moved to Cornwall to be nearer my children. What prompted you to offer your skills on icaewvolunteers.com? Initially, I began volunteering my time through Volunteer Cornwall. I then also joined the Prince’s Trust and took on the treasurership of a memory café and later the Cornwall CAB. Sadly, I had to resign from the latter two and was, as such, looking for something else. Following the closure of Volunteer Cornwall, I came across icaewvolunteers.com and scoured the website for opportunities. What type of role were you looking for? A finance or accounting side role for any worthwhile cause that was within easy reach of Bodmin. How many roles did you apply for? I applied for two roles through the website. The first was as a trustee of a newly formed Catholic Free School in Cambourne, as the current treasurer anticipated travelling to visit family in Canada and wanted a stand in. The second role I applied for was to Active 8, a charity aimed at encouraging disabled youngsters in Cornwall to obtain their independence. What does your volunteering role involve? At the school, I have taken up the role of officer with responsibility for doing audits of the financial systems and procedures as suggested in the Education Act. I am also trying to fund a sports hall and generally taking an interest in the IT at the school. At Active 8, I am working with the management team to improve the accounting systems and management accounts. I am also trying to bring the benefit of my experience to the other trustees who are mainly involved with social care, etc. What has been the high point of your work with the charity? In fact, it’s the work with the Prince’s Trust, particularly encouraging young people to become self-employed, lecturing on accounting and tax, mentoring start-ups and generally being available to other mentors when it comes to accounting and tax matters. Mind you, this is having worked with them for three years. Once I’ve spent that amount of time with Active 8, I imagine I’ll get the same enjoyment seeing a young disabled person getting on with their life independently. There are a couple of such youngsters who are fellow trustees managing to do that extremely well. Similarly, I expect that I will enjoy seeing a two year old school reaching its full complement in another three years and the kids moving on to higher education. Have you found the scheme rewarding? If so, why? I think the scheme stops a wealth of knowledge from being put on in the waste bin. Not only does it keep one’s mind and body agile, it also gives some purpose to life after work, getting you out and meeting people of all ages (not just other pensioners!). Would you recommend the scheme to your peers? If so, why? I have already. I suggested that the local CAB advertised to replace me via your website. I think that the use of your website does a lot of the weeding out of unsuitable candidates that a newspaper advert attracts. From my perspective, the reverse is also true. All the vacancies advertised appear to be genuine and worthwhile.
Interview with Caroline Star Chair of CMV Action www.cmvaction.org.uk CMV Action supports families affected by CMV - a leading cause of birth defects in the UK. The charity provides a family support group and promotes research into a better understanding of the condition. It has been registered as a charity since 2012 and is chaired by Caroline Star. What prompted you to sign up to the ICAEW volunteering website? The past Treasurer wanted to step down so the charity had some time to prepare. We wanted someone with an outside perspective and came across icaewvolunteers.com through a Google search. Which role were you looking for to help with the charity? A Treasurer. What does the volunteer do for the charity? Tom does Treasurer duties as well as other areas above and beyond. The charity has been through rapid change and needs to grow capacity in order to deliver on our ambitious objectives. Tom was able to provide a strategic role and lead a project looking at how we could increase capacity. He brings a lot of experience on budgeting and reporting cycles. We are a small organisation and he has helped us plan more effectively and make good use of our resources. Has Tom helped the charity to do anything differently or achieve something you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to? See above. Tom was also involved in some quick wins including reviewing the annual report and finance processes. For anyone thinking of signing up to icaewvolunteers.com, what do you think it can offer them? We would recommend it. It is the first choice as it allows for organisations to search by location and sector which is different from a lot of other sites. I was attracted by the fact that the charity could highlight themselves to specific volunteers. The fact that the website is marketed to Chartered Accountants gave us the confidence that they were good quality candidates and they do what they say they will do. A smaller charity needs someone more able as larger charities have the structures and personnel behind them. We got exactly the calibre of person they wanted. We had no responses from any other sites, which shows a lack of functionality.
Before accepting a volunteering role it is important that you have a good understanding of the organisation that is offering the role to you. This is particularly important if you are considering becoming a member of its board where ultimately you will be responsible for the organisation. You will need to consider the organisation’s situation and determine whether you have the right skills and sufficient time to commit to support it effectively in meeting its objectives. Below we list some ideas of how to evaluate the organisation. If you have further questions or would like further support in your role as a not-for-profit board member, ICAEW has developed a number of help sheets and can also offer membership of the Charity and Voluntary Sector Special Interest Group. Visit the links at the end of the article find out more. 1.Have a look at the organisation’s website – what does the organisation do? Do you agree with its objectives? Who is responsible for the organisation? Is there any financial information available? 2.If the organisation is a registered charity in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, have a look at its entry on the register of the relevant regulator: the Charity Commission for charities registered in England and Wales (www.charitycommission.gov.uk); the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for charities registered in Scotland (www.oscr.org.uk); or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland for charities registered in Northern Ireland (www.charitycommissionni.org.uk). Apart from information about the activities of the charity, the register will show whether the organisation is up to date with all applicable filing requirements (which is an important indicator of how well the charity is managed). 3. Review the latest published annual accounts. Have the accounts been subject to external review, either an audit or an independent examination? If so, is the audit/examination report unqualified? Does the trustees’ annual report portray an organisation that has a clear vision about how it meets its aims? What are its plans for the future? If this is not the case would you be able to help the organisation to improve its reporting regime? How is the organisation funded? What are the principal sources of income and are there restricted income funds and/or endowments? If there are restricted funds or endowments, are there also unrestricted income funds that are sufficient to cover core activities and activities that are not subject to unrestricted funding for a sufficient a period (normally around three to six months), in the absence of any further income being available? Charities tread a fine line between, on the one hand, the requirement not to hoard cash but to spend money on their charitable activities, and, on the other hand, the need to ensure that there are funds to sustain those activities in the future. What is the stated reserves policy of the organisation? If they do not have one would you be able to help them develop one? 4.Ask about contractual obligations and potential liabilities that could affect the organisation’s financial stability. For example, are there operating leases that commit the organisation to a level of expenditure that may be difficult to meet if its income falls? Charities can be vulnerable to pressure to enter into equipment contracts, and payments are often made under direct debit. Scrutinising a list of all direct debits can be revealing. Does it occupy premises on a lease that is subject to periodic rent reviews? If so, could the next review result in an increase that the organisation cannot afford? Is there a liability for dilapidations? What are the pension scheme arrangements – does the organisation belong to a multi-employer scheme or operate its own defined benefit scheme that may be in deficit? 5. Is the organisation incorporated (eg, a charitable company or Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)) or unincorporated (for example a trust or association)? This is particularly important if you are considering becoming a trustee of a charity as the way it is constituted will affect your personal liability. 6. If the organisation is a registered company you can search for it on the Companies House website (www.companieshouse.gov.uk) and get basic company information such as current appointments. If the organisation is a registered charity the directors should be the same as the trustees listed on the Charity Commission record for the charity. 7. Have a look at the organisation’s governing document (such as Trust Deed or Articles) to find out how board members are appointed and can resign again. Ask what induction and training is arranged for new board members. 8. You can also ask to attend a board meeting as an observer so that you can see how the trustees work and get a feel for how you would fit in. This is important for the current trustees, as well, so it is standard practice for prospective trustees to be invited to observe meetings before the decision to appoint/accept appointment is made. What financial information is presented to the trustees at their meetings and how up to date is it? 9. Ask to visit the charity’s offices/place of service delivery to observe their work in action.
Before you recruit new board members, you need to know the ones you already have on board The best way to make sure that a new board member will complement and enhance the existing board, is to undertake a skills audit of the current board. The result of the audit will be a better understanding of what skills you will require the new board members to have. When posting a role on www.icaewvolunteers.com you will be able to specify the skills you are looking for, ensuring you get relevant applications. Make sure your expectations and the role is clearly defined Make sure you are clear on the requirements of the role. How often do the board meet? How much preparation is required for meetings? Do you expect board members to attend other meetings or events during the role? Are you looking for a generic board member or are you looking for somebody to take on a specific officer role such as Chair, Treasurer or Secretary? Make sure you clarify this and list the specific skills and experience you are looking for in each case. When you post you role on icaewvolunteers.com you will be able to specify these requirements so that the people applying for your role are more likely to have the required skills and are able to commit sufficient time. Do it right – check your governing document and eligibility Before you start looking for a new board member, check the governing documents of your organisation so that you know how you should go about getting new board members. Does your governing document require all board members to be elected at the AGM or does the board have the power to appoint board members? Also make sure that you know the legal requirements for eligibility for any candidate you appoint, this will depend on the legal structure of your organisation e.g. if you are a charity or an incorporated company. Next steps Finally make sure you have a clear plan for appointing and inducting the new board member. Will you be holding formal or informal interviews for the role? Will you ask potential candidates to observe a board meeting before you make your decision?
How to break into the International Development Sector It can be frustrating as a finance professional trying to break into the international development sector. You’ve taken the time to write a covering letter, you’re fully qualified, with 10 years’ experience and yet your applications still aren’t getting acknowledged. This tends to be because these organisations do not have the finances to make the wrong employment decision. Even though you may be the right decision; the safe option is for the organisation to employ someone with a CV that reflects the values it holds. This means previous, relevant experience. As is often the case with most jobs, even more so in international development; recent relevant experience is highly desirable. Employers within the sector look at this to ensure you have the correct personality. Helen Ord, Finance Director at War Child, says you need to be able to demonstrate certain social skills that are associated with international development to stand out. These include: “a willingness to work long hours in potentially lonely environments with limited resources, both in the available time and capacity of local finance teams and partners.” Whilst you might have these attributes, it’s hard to express it on your CV without having worked in the sector previously. But, how do you get that experience in the charity sector without being given the initial opportunity? One proven method of breaking into a new sector is to show your commitment to the cause by volunteering. This shows that you can work in different environments, submerge yourself in new cultures and adapt to foreign countries. Accounting for International Development (AfID) gives small charities a rare opportunity to work with experienced, qualified accountants and build their financial capacity, whilst at the same time it provides accountants with invaluable experience that will add elements to their CVs which can’t be attained working in the city. Neil Jennings, founder of AfID, believes accountants increase their employability within the International Development sector after a volunteer placement: “I might be wrong but, from my experience talking to charities and many past volunteers now working in the sector, without relevant experience you will find it almost impossible to even get an interview. You need to demonstrate you are able to adapt your technical skills to a wide variety of new environments; you will need to prove you have finely honed social skills, the commitment and patience to work in under resourced location AND; you may need to do this just on your CV! “You can’t beat practical hands on experience and there is really only one way to get this – volunteering. Yes they’ll be sacrifices but the return is enormous.” But don’t simply take Neil Jennings’ advice on this. Finance professionals who have swapped the hustle and bustle of city life for a more exotic location think their voluntary experience aided them significantly. Timea Szeteiova, an ACCA qualified accountant, decided upon a voluntary assignment in Cambodia as a career break. After swapping South-East London for South-East Asia, Timea decided she wanted to pursue a career in international development. Whilst it was a hard market to break, she found her voluntary experience invaluable. “I came back to London and I was looking for a role in an NGO, but as I did not have previous experience in this sector it was hard. Although my AfID assignment was only for three-months, it really helped me to find a role in an NGO. “I think without this experience I would have not been able to secure my current role.” Another volunteer who broke into the international development sector following her experience was Sarah Broad, an ICAEW member, whose two-week placement was enough to aid her application for a Managing Director’s position at an international charity. Sarah believes volunteering was beneficial to her career in two ways: “First, my placement helped me to decide that I wanted to move into the charity sector on a permanent basis. Second, my time as a volunteer helped to demonstrate my commitment to moving into the charity sector during the job application and interview process.” As Sarah mentioned, the benefit of volunteering does not just exemplify your commitment to the international development. It is a chance to prove you can work with limit resources in what are often highly pressured environments. Working abroad for a charity isn’t a walk in park though. Helen Ord describes it as “likely to be one of the toughest professional experiences of your working life”. Whilst the thought of working for a Women’s refuge in Cambodia, a health clinic in Kenya or a grassroots organisation In Guatemala may seem appealing; it’s not always fun and games. That is why previous experience within the charity sector is highly desirable. Employers’ not only want the make sure you’re the right fit for the charity, but they want you to be sure this is the right career for you. Something that only hands-on experience really provides you with. David Woodbine, Finance Director at ActionAid, believes there are invaluable benefits that volunteering can provide for individuals who are considering a career in international development. “Volunteering provides a rare opportunity to experience the real challenges of making change happen ‘on the ground’. Most people find being in the international development sector very rewarding – contributing to a cause they are passionate about – but it’s not without its challenges and frustrations. Volunteering can give you a real insight and determine whether it’s right for you before making a long term commitment.” The benefits of volunteering are not exclusive to those accountants that wish gather the experience essential for a move into the Development sector, many of our volunteers have seen a positive impact on their careers when they return to their day jobs. Adrian Storey, an Internal Auditor at Shell, did exactly this. His head of department, Dominic Osborne, said volunteering had “resulted in a more committed and motivated colleague in the audit team” and “widened the perspective of the whole team”. Similarly, David Adair, Head of Community Affairs at PwC, an organisation that has had over 40 employees volunteer with AfID, said “volunteering with AfID has had a huge impact on the personal development of all the individual staff involved”. The impact on an individual’s personal development is something that is reflected in the feedback of many volunteers. Of those asked, 90% said they had developed more patience, 94% said they felt more confident and 97% said they were more resourceful, more comfortable with unfamiliar situations and more culturally sensitive after their volunteering experience. Whilst volunteers use their experience to develop the skills of local people, 80% still felt they had acquired new skills whilst volunteering that benefited them in their current roles and 92% said that they had developed existing skills resulting in an improvement in their performance. Many volunteers find the idea of working in a challenging environment with limited resources and cultural differences hugely appealing and as a result 87% said they now felt better equipped to manage change in their own workplace and 96% were confident they could adapt to a varied and challenging environment better than before they volunteered. The first step of pursuing a career in international development is ensuring it is the right path for you. Volunteering is one way of doing this, while at the same time providing invaluable hands-on experience which will definitely enhance your career prospects whether you are looking to climb the ladder in your current role, or if you are looking to move into the charity sector permanently. For so many reasons volunteering can be a defining moment in one’s career or life and should not be missed.
ICAEW Careers Adviser Network (ICAN) ICAN is a network of trainee or fully qualified ICAEW members who are interested in promoting the ACA and careers in chartered accountancy to students at School, College or University. For more information have a look at http://careers.icaew.com/school-students-leavers/student-support/careers-advisers/ican Volunteer Network The Volunteer Network is a school initiative run in partnership with pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group). ICAEW volunteer members receive training to enable them to go into the schools to support teachers in incorporating personal finance education into their lesson plans. If you are interested have a look at http://www.icaew.com/en/about-icaew/what-we-do/volunteering-and-awards/personal-finance. Tax volunteers The Tax Faculty has opportunities for members to get involved in all aspects of tax, technical and operational, to provide input on HMRC initiatives and help to formulate ICAEW tax consultation responses. For more details on the various options go tohttp://www.icaew.com/en/technical/tax/working-with-hmrc/volunteer BASE student mentors ICAEW’s Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) is looking for ICAEW members to mentor student teams at our 46 regional heats across the UK. Your role as a mentor is to act as an advisor by assisting students through the business challenge at a regional heat of your choice and to show your support during the game by providing positive influences and helping to answer questions related to the business case. For more information and to apply for the mentor role go to http://www.icaewvolunteers.com/job/534/base-student-mentors-volunteers Support Members scheme The support members scheme provides free, confidential and non-judgemental support to ICAEW members in difficulty. This support is provided by a central team and a network of trained volunteer members. Staff and volunteers are exempt from the duty to report misconduct enabling enquirers to speak freely without fear of recrimination or repercussion. For more information on the scheme log in on https://www.icaew.com/en/members/local-support-and-services/support-members-scheme. To apply to volunteer for the scheme go to http://www.icaewvolunteers.com/job/522/support-member-volunteer/.
It is not always easy to find a volunteering role that is right for you. Below we list ways of finding out what role is good for you and ways of finding out what role is right for you: Think about what you want from volunteering. Is it new skills, fun or a chance to contribute to a cause? Think about what you have to offer such as enthusiasm, work or life skills, specialist knowledge or willingness to learn. Work out roughly how much time you have to give, and how many times a week or month you want to volunteer. Browse current volunteering opportunities using icaewvolunteers.com’s search facilities on www.icaewvolunteers.com/jobs . Think about what sector, type of role and location you are interested in. Narrow down your search if you get too many results by refining the search criteria. If you don't get many results try widening your search criteria – you never know what might turn up! Remember that everyone can volunteer - whatever your skills, experience or background you should be able to find an opportunity. Research and ask questions from the organisations publicising the roles before or during the application process to make sure you understand what the organisation does and what the role you are interested in entails. Give it a go!
When volunteering it is important that you know what is expected of you in that role and what you can expect from the organisation. Below we list some ideas to what questions you should ask to find out if the role is right for you. Ask questions about the organisation – their cause, strategy, governance and how the organisation manages volunteers. Ask questions about the volunteering role or project and ask about their procedures for induction, on-going training and expenses. Ask questions about the application process. Think about the skills and experience you have to offer and the skills or experience you want to gain. Think about your availability. How much time are you able to commit and when? Can you attend regular meetings or would a short project suit you better? Remember that you will be expected to do your best as a volunteer and be competent in your volunteering role. This is especially important for ICAEW Chartered Accountants (see Code of Ethics-Part A).