At Charterpath our aim is to inspire accountants to volunteer their time and expertise to the non-profit sector. Aside from the feel-good factor, there are proven benefits for mental health and well-being… and for your professional career with an enhanced CV, new skillsets and a broader network and perspectives.
However we know it can be quite daunting to work out where to start. Here are my top tips:
1. Find a cause that moves you
Volunteers give their time for free. Whilst every non-profit has a worthy cause — if it is something you feel passionate about, you will find it much easier to commit the time and energy all year round. Non-profits also want volunteers who are 100% bought into their mission and will act as ambassadors for their work. Consider things you want to change in the world — I guarantee there will already be a non-profit out there working to fix it.
2. Be clear on how much time you have to give
Supporting a non-profit doesn’t need to be all consuming. The time commitment will vary depending on the size of the charity and the role you are doing. If you don’t want the responsibility of a Trustee role (essentially a non-executive Board member) you may want to find a role on a governance committee (eg Finance & Fundraising / Risk & Audit), or providing support for specific projects. Most important is to be clear about your time commitment. Volunteers typically end up spending more time than they expect to… but better to underpromise then over deliver!
3. Consider geography
Whilst we now know we can technically work from anywhere — I for one am hoping that remote working doesn’t continue indefinitely. For me, seeing the non-profit in action is key to understand how it operates and improving my effectiveness in an oversight role. It is also important to get to know the management team at the non-profit so you can act as a good sounding board and nothing beats doing that face-to-face (even if once a year). Having the team in reaching distance from your home or work is therefore an important factor for me.
4. Start the search
There are so many websites out there to find opportunities — from Reach Volunteering, Do-It Org, Accounting for International Development, Trustees Unlimited, Nu Role — to name but a few. Get in touch with us at Charterpath if you need any guidance. If there is a charity you particularly admire, don’t be afraid to get in touch with them directly offering your services with background to the skills you think you can provide for them.
5. Understand what you are getting yourself into
Before you commit to a role, take a look at the non-profit’s website, check-out the experience of the senior management and trustees, and review the financials via the Charities Commission. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as part of the interview process and make sure you have a clear job description. Remember — whilst your expertise is absolutely transferable, there are different priorities in the non-profit sector so make sure you invest time upfront to listen, ask questions and listen some more. You will be able to add a huge amount of value… but don’t expect to do so from day 1!
6. Know where you can go to for help
Ask the non-profit if they provide any ongoing training and consider which of the other trustees you might be able to seek support from. In terms of independent learning, NCVO Know How is an absolute treasure trove of information on the non-profit sector and always a worthwhile port of call. At Charterpath we are looking to establish a members network to provide support to each other, share best practice, host networking events and technical talks. In the meantime don’t be afraid to get in touch with us directly and we can point you in the right direction.
7. Enjoy it!
Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience in so many ways. Let us know how you get on!
If the idea of volunteering your skills with a non-profit has caught your imagination - follow these 3 simple steps:
Follow Charterpath on LinkedIn for all the latest news, inspiration, and roles
Have a look around our website at www.charterpath.org.uk for case studies, helpful resources, and live volunteer opportunities
Sign the Charterpath pledge to show your support for our mission and volunteer your skills for at least 2 days each year
Alice Clementi and Alex Marsh co-founded Charterpath as a community interest company in 2020, with a mission to increase the proportion of accountants volunteering from 10% to 50% - inspiring more accountants to volunteer their time and expertise, connecting them with non-profit opportunities, and engaging with a wide range of organisations so volunteering is a core part of an accountant’s career. For more information, visit www.charterpath.org.uk.