Peeling away financial reporting issues one layer at a time

Off-Topic (But In-Season): Accountants for Peace and Prosperity

The author of this post is Annie Schedrin of the London-based organization Accounting for International Development (AfID). It seems like they do good work where it is much needed. I am always hopeful that educators will share my posts with their students – but this one especially so.

In many ways good financial management is the foundation upon which effective international development is built. If a school in a Malawian slum hasn't budgeted properly for the academic year it might run out of funds half way through and have to cut short the education of its most impoverished children. It might even have to close permanently. If a health clinic in rural Cambodia isn't able to produce regular, clear and transparent financial reports alongside helping hundreds of individuals, its international donor might have to withdraw vital funding.

This has led to a change in volunteering. It is no longer just those with medical or educational backgrounds who are seen as invaluable when lending their time. Now volunteers with finance skills are in high demand. Qualified accountants have the training and experience to build the confidence of local finance staff and improve the systems in use at grassroots charities across the developing world. Depending on the need, highly effective volunteer roles can last from two weeks to a year, either at a single small charity, at multiple charities, or at the Country Office of a large international NGO.

Founded in 2009, Accounting for International Development (AfID) is a multi-award winning social enterprise ensuring that experienced finance professionals are given the opportunity to volunteer their skills in order to make a genuine difference overseas and gain rewarding hands-on International Development experience at the same time.

Since its inception only three years ago, AfID has partnered with more than 150 charities and NGOs. Over 300 volunteers have been sent to 28 countries across Africa, Asia and South America, taking the total hours of pro-bono financial management to over 50 000. This equates to £5.6 Million of professional financial services rendered to non-profit organisations across the world.

The partner organisation who have receive invaluable support are a blend of international charities and grassroots community based organisations such as street child centres, hospitals, micro-finance organisations, conservation projects, schools and women's empowerment programmes. Volunteers have ranged from 22 to 71 years of age, have included 15 couples (as well as one marriage proposal) and have been from a number of destinations including Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Bermuda and Hong Kong.

A typical placement could be as follows:

For more information on accountancy volunteering opportunities, please see AfID's website or email


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