The power of giving back: How volunteering can enhance your professional journey

As accounting firm owners and leaders, we often focus on the day-to-day operations and financial success of our businesses. However, in the pursuit of professional growth, it is essential to recognize the invaluable benefits that volunteering can offer.

A volunteer is standing on the back of a truck, passing boxes of strawberries to other people.

For several years, I was focused on growing our Canadian online accounting firm, Zenbooks, and didn’t spend much time on volunteer roles. I felt like I was missing something because I had won awards in the past for my volunteering work and I had diverted my attention away from these causes that matter so much to me. 

Recently, I have come to understand the importance of volunteering through my work on Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s Finance and Audit Committee—a charity I am deeply passionate about.

Engaging in charitable work not only allows accountants to give back to our communities but also equips us with unique skills and experiences that can enhance expertise and overall personal and professional satisfaction. 

4 reasons why accountants should volunteer

Volunteering offers a plethora of benefits for accountants beyond traditional professional development. By engaging in charitable work, you can forge meaningful connections with your community, expand your professional network, enhance your skill set, and experience personal fulfillment.

1. Connect with your community

One of the most significant advantages of volunteering is the opportunity to connect with your local community. By offering your expertise to charitable organizations, you can actively participate in making a positive change. This involvement not only fosters goodwill but also helps build trust and strong relationships with potential clients, local businesses, and fellow professionals.

Plus, remote work environments and distributed teams are now a reality for many firms, reducing the amount of social time spent with colleagues. Volunteering in a professional capacity, such as on a board of directors, on a finance committee, or as a treasurer, gives you an opportunity to socialize and connect with others.

2. Expand your professional network

Engaging in volunteering also allows you to expand your professional network. When working alongside individuals from diverse backgrounds and industries, you can connect with like-minded professionals who share your passion for community service. 

Shared experiences, ideas, and goals while volunteering foster deeper, more personal connections with others. These connections can lead to collaborations, referrals, and new business opportunities that may not have been possible through traditional networking channels. 

Jessica Wong, CPA, CA, Director of Accounting Services at Zenbooks, volunteers her time at a local non-profit. “Volunteering has allowed me to establish meaningful connections within my community. I've met incredible individuals from various sectors and formed valuable partnerships that have opened doors to new clients and referrals."

3. Skill-building and professional development

Non-profit work offers the chance to refine your existing skills and develop new ones. Many charitable organizations require assistance with financial management, budgeting, and bookkeeping. By utilizing your expertise in these areas, you can contribute directly to the success of non-profit organizations. 

Volunteering also presents unique challenges that may not arise in your day-to-day professional life. You can gain hands-on experience navigating complex financial situations, managing tight budgets, and making informed decisions with limited resources. Such experiences improve problem-solving skills and adaptability in dynamic environments. 

4. Work-life balance and personal fulfillment

In the fast-paced and demanding world of accounting, it's crucial to find a healthy work-life balance. Volunteering can serve as an outlet to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of your professional responsibilities. 

Giving back to the community and making a tangible difference in the lives of others can provide a sense of purpose and perspective that transcends the daily grind. 

In fact, the American Bar Association encourages attorneys to do volunteer work. The association’s guidelines state that attorneys should aspire to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono services per year.

Accountants who volunteer often report a renewed passion for their work. The act of helping others and witnessing the positive impact of your efforts can promote job satisfaction, personal growth, and a deeper appreciation for your daily work.

Next steps

Charitable work offers many benefits for accountants, including connecting with others, expanding your network and skill set, and experiencing personal and professional fulfillment. 

Embrace the transformative potential of giving back by seeking out opportunities in your community that align with your values, interests, and skills. And encourage your team members to explore opportunities of their own!

As the legendary American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, once said, "No man can become rich without enriching others." Volunteering has the power to shape not only our careers but also the communities we serve. Together, we can make a lasting impact and create a brighter future for all.