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Haskayne prof starts new accounting volunteering program for not-for-profits

Student Accounting Volunteer Initiative looks for partner organizations
April 24, 2017

A new pilot program is off to a strong start with overwhelming numbers of students interested in participating. The Student Accounting Volunteer Initiative (SAVI) will provide not-for-profit organizations in Calgary up to 12 hours per month of volunteer accounting support from third- and fourth-year accounting students.

Students benefit from getting volunteer experience to put on their resumes, and the organizations get free accounting support from senior undergraduate students for such standard accounting tasks such as journal entries, preparing cheques, recording deposits and reconciling bank statements.

“The inspiration for SAVI came from serving as treasurer on a small non-profit board,” says Mark Anderson, the Richard F. Haskayne OC FCA Chair of Accounting at the Haskayne School of Business. “I could see that there were many things I could do that would be valuable for the organization — cash flow projections, budgets under different scenarios, sensitivity analysis — but time is always at a premium so I ended up spending my time on the must-do things like annual reports and AGLC audits. I thought about how our students could contribute and get valuable experience at the same time.”

'Outstanding' response from student volunteers

Students volunteers can choose to participate from March to December or September to April. Student volunteers must attend a mandatory training session and will have an industry mentor and a Haskayne accounting prof to support them.

“The response from students to this program has been outstanding,” says Jennifer Krahn, director of the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, which is supporting the initiative. “We were hoping to engage perhaps four students in an initial pilot; however, after several classroom presentations we have more than 60 students signed up to attend an orientation about the program. I believe what we are seeing is the high value that students place both on practising the skills they are learning as well as giving back to the community.”

Interested non-profits invited to sign up for accounting assistance

They plan to launch in the fall semester and are still looking for more organizations to get involved. Interested not-for-profits must have an office location and the organizations must provide clear assignments, training, direction and supervision to their student.

Krahn adds that students, who are early in their careers, will get to contribute in a meaningful way within the community and use the skills learned at school to see both the value of what they are learning as well as the way it can be used to support community initiatives. It also gets students involved in a meaningful way even before they begin a full-time career, potentially building a habit of contribution to the not-for-profit community.

“We believe that members of not-for-profit organizations would have a valuable impact on our students. They bring vision, experience and a passion for what they do that we think will be an important contribution to the learning of students while on their journey through their university tenure,” she says.

To apply or to learn more, please contact program administrator Lorina Rigaux.

Haskayne School of Business associate professor Mark Anderson helped launch an initiative to get accounting students volunteering for not-for-profits. With him are students, from left: Nidhi Raijada, Michaela Alpajaro and Kathy Tran.
Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

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