Connect with non-profits seeking volunteer financial skills
Alice Clementi — start early and be open-minded, listen and learn
Chartered Accountant (CA) with ICAS 2010
Trustee at Operation Reach, Governor at St Mary’s School Ascot, Fundraiser at The Passage
“Be open-minded, listen and learn. Things are done differently in the non-profit sector, often with good reason and given the limited resources, change can take time. Don’t be afraid to share your expertise and experiences, but do so thoughtfully.”
How did you get involved in volunteering?
Accidentally! I signed up to be a van driver for The Passage, collecting leftover food for from M&S for the soup kitchen. My co-driver, the Financial Controller, discovered I was a trainee accountant and immediately signed me up to join their Risk & Audit Committee.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering?
Working alongside inspiring people who have dedicated their lives to a cause. It is truly humbling.
What has been your proudest moment as a volunteer?
In 2014-2016 The Passage undertook an enormous project to redevelop and refurbish one of its buildings to offer more space for homeless clients, new facilities including a (much needed) bigger kitchen and also a beautiful roof garden to provide therapeutic space for The Passage’s clients. Seeing this transformation and the benefits it brought to The Passage’s clients, staff, volunteers and visitors was incredibly moving and I was proud to have been able to play a very small part in my role as a Committee member — overseeing everything from fundraising and risk assessment to project management.
What has been the toughest time volunteering?
I went through a period in my career when I was constantly working late nights and I started missing my volunteering commitments. In hindsight I regret not making the time for it — it was only ever a few hours a month that were needed and I was letting down the charity by not turning up. The irony was that it would have given me some desperately needed perspective when all-consumed by work!
How have your accountancy skills come into play?
Where to begin — reviewing accounts and helping to interpret technical guidance, supporting the financial controller with some audit testing to give comfort over process and controls, designing a new risk register and most recently helping a charity to introduce a KPI dashboard to give a snapshot of their performance.
What have you learnt from volunteering?
Too much to write here! When I started out I was new to sitting around a Board table and learnt from other committee members how to review the papers, ask probing questions and contribute at the right time. As time when on I got a greater insight into the third sector and the different challenges it faces. Every meeting I go to I always seem to learn something new. It is a fascinating experience and the charities I volunteer for continue to inspire me on a daily basis.
What would be your one piece of advice for accountants looking to volunteer?
Be open-minded, listen and learn. Things are done differently in the non-profit sector, often with good reason and given the limited resources, change can take time. Don’t be afraid to share your expertise and experiences, but do so thoughtfully.
How can get more accountants volunteering?
Spreading the word of Charterpath!