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The benefits of doing work with not-for-profits By on Sep 10, 2021

not for profits concept

Often in the accounting industry, we are asked to sit on boards of not-for-profit organisations. What you first need to consider is, should you accept the appointment, and what due diligence do you need to do? The other is the benefit of helping others, doing “your bit” for the community, and growing your network of contacts. This article will focus on my experience and the personal benefits gained from working with charities and other not for profits.

Around 26 years ago I was invited to come down to Ronald McDonald House Westmead to help them with their MYOB accounting system. They had been using a complex Oracle system managed by the Hospital that produced a 50-page general ledger report that the board could not comprehend. MYOB was set up to try to turn the numbers into knowledge and simplify reporting for management and the board.

That chance engagement led to an offer to sit on the board as Treasurer, to replace the existing Treasurer who had moved into the CEO role at the Australian chapter of the charity. Over the past 25 years, it has been an extremely rewarding experience. I have met many wonderful people and learned so much from like-minded board members representing McDonald’s, The Children’s Hospital, the community, suppliers, donors, team members and the like. I would not change any part of this 25-year journey and look forward to future challenges.

One of the board’s greatest achievements is the construction of the new 60 room, 44-million-dollar Ronald McDonald House Greater Western Sydney behind the existing 18 room house. To provide a state-of-the-art facility to so many families of sick children is truly inspiring. Personally, representing Australia on the Global Finance Committee and being part of an Australian Finance Committee that managed the integration of a standard accounting system across all houses have been memorable. I really do love the charity and what it does. It has been a privilege to be involved with so many generous people truly devoted to the mission of the charity, and in turn, share my knowledge to help everything move forward.

Around 17 years ago I was invited to a BBQ (beer and wine!!) by a good friend who introduced the concept to me of the Central Coast Academy of Sport. Many local athletes at the time had to travel to Sydney for elite level coaching and needed local level development and support to further their athletic development. He asked me if I would chair the Academy and I unreservedly accepted and to this day have undertaken.

The early days of strategy development and submissions to the NSW Minister for Sport and the Department of Sport and Recreation were very challenging and interesting. We needed seed funding to get the Academy off the ground. Thankfully this was obtained and with our corporate partners, the Academy was on its way.

Chairing such a dynamic board has been an absolute privilege. This hand selected board offered a diverse skill set and motivated approach to corporate governance and best practice. The Academy itself has provided coaching and development to over 3000 athletes and has witnessed athletes participating at NSW Academy Games, Commonwealth and Olympic Games and trials.

Support from our partners has been critical and my time on this board has taught me to truly value those relationships, never take them for granted and continue to enhance them as time passes. Another key learning has been working with the CEO. He is a brilliant and strategic manager who can develop relationships and follow them through. His interactive team approach to managing staff is to be admired and best of all his communication style to the board has been exceptional. Again, I look forward to the future and chairing this board.

These are just two of many boards I have sat on and continue to sit on. I would challenge every accountant to get involved in supporting a not-for-profit. What are your interests, who do you feel you could help most with your skills? It is a rewarding experience that you can articulate back to the workplace and the skills you will acquire absolutely help with the management of your firm.

Get involved, good luck, and feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] if you would like to have a chat about my experience and learnings on the boards for charities and other not for profits.


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