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How to use your accountancy skills for the greater good

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For accountants specialising in small business, helping your clients to achieve their goals is a worthy contribution to society. However, there is a world outside of business, and you may have an urge to use your talents for noble causes. Many altruistically-inclined organisations are under-resourced, and one area in particular that suffers in aid organisations is the financial department.

But it’s not just NGOs that can benefit from volunteer accountants. Many would-be entrepreneurs don’t yet have the financial know-how to effectively turn their business dreams into reality. Passing on your skill with finances to those who would benefit from your experience can produce incredible social benefits.

Here are two ways that you can use your accountancy skills in a charitable setting:

Join an altruistic accounting network

There are a number of organisations for other-minded accountants that aim to improve the lot of humankind. Among these is Accounting for International Development (AfID). AfID, started in 2009, and as of 2016, has placed over 1,000 volunteer accountants. Their mission is to provide financial support to a range of non-profit organisations. Very often, non-profits in developing countries struggle with attracting accountants to their field – accountancy is a lucrative field, and NGOs are typically strapped for cash. Through AfID, volunteering accountants can bring NGOs’ books to order. This can vastly improve the ability of an NGO to attract donor funding, which in turn enhances an NGO’s ability to bring their services to those in need.

The underlying aim of AfID is to promote the role of the accountant in environments in which accountants aren’t typically present. AfID aims to expand the social role of the accounting profession by showing just how effective accountants and the techniques of accountancy can be in managing finances and resources.

Teach aspiring entrepreneurs

Making good financial decisions is a crucial element in a prudent person’s life. However intuitive it may be to you, due to your upbringing and education, for many others, these concepts are alien. One of the greatest things that you can teach is how to look after your money. In South Africa, there are a number of educational organisations that specialise in bringing good financial sense to those who want to learn it. Your teaching could help someone out of a debt cycle, or allow them to save for a deposit on a house or for furthering their education.

South Africa has a large number of would-be entrepreneurs – but many of them are held back from starting their own businesses due to educational gaps, particularly in their ability to navigate the financial side. By introducing people to the tools that you use to make great decisions, such as your accounting software, you can bring people knowledge with which they can thrive as you do.

One programme that is directed towards changing the fortunes of this class of aspiring entrepreneurs is run by the National Youth Development Agency. The Volunteer Enterprise Mentorship Programme matches professionals – accountants, business owners, lawyers, engineers, and so on – with youth who are starting businesses. As a volunteer mentor, you are matched with an aspiring entrepreneur, and help guide the entrepreneur through the early stages of business growth and development. The programme is designed to promote the transfer of skills from those who know how to thrive in the modern business environment to those who are desperate to learn what it takes to succeed.

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