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Pro Bono Accounting Help for non profits | America Steps up where the UK fails

Pro Bono Accounting Help for non profits |...

Why is there no pro Bono Accounting help anywhere in the UK?

I've just spent a VERY fruitless three weeks searching for pro Bono Accounting support ANYWHERE in the UK (We are an entirely non profit shcools education project providing groundbreaking resources in media literacy and film (The fastest growing subject at GCSE and A level and Degree) and we have essentially given up. We have concluded it simply doesnt exist.

There is that old joke about lawyers at the bottom of the sea, yet ironically with organisations like LawWorks, finding a pro bono lawyer for you charity is a painless process. NOT so for accountants. Why is that? I've decided that its not lawyers that deserve the jokes after all.

In the end, and because I am currently teaching at one of the universities in Boston, Massachusetts, USA I thought I'd try the Small Business Alliance (SBA) and was staggered to find we could get immediate, free help, and so I'm going to take up that offer and hope the differences between UK and US abbreviated accounts are not too great.

Think about that for a moment. A 100% UK non profit with abbreviated accounts gets help from a US non profit organisation in a few minutes of discussion, and gets nowhere in a few weeks of phone calls to at least four dozen organisations (there isnt the scope to list them all here and perhaps that would not be fair to them)

I'd like to get some sort of debate going. I'm very disappointed in this situation. Please add your thoughts. But suffice to say that the UK accountancy industry needs to get its act together (that will generate a few grumpy replies I'm sure) and think about creating a genuinely free or mostly free central repository of accounting firms willing and indeed keen to "put something back" into the system.

If Lawyers can do it, come on guys, so can the accounting industry.  Whether or not you agree "we're all in it together" SOMEBODY needs to set up a LawWorks for accounting. Its been on the cards for years now, bust still doesnt exist.



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By occca
26th Jun 2012 16:24

We do pro bono work

We offer pro bono work for a number of small non profits and charities

Our restriction would be on time and how much pro bono we were already doing for people.  It would also need to be something that we were interested in supporting, as inevitably these things can take longer than planned.

Your project sounds very interesting.


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to Rebecca Cave
26th Jun 2012 16:40

Pro bono debate

Thankyou Wendy I have extended a personal note to you on this.

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26th Jun 2012 16:32

Pro bono work

I currently, along with the firms I have worked for in the past and probably most high street accounting firms in the UK carry out a limited amount of pro-bono work in the form of helping OAPs, foster carers etc out with tax situations that we either do for free or at a reduced rate.

To be honest, our working practices and supervisory bodies along with certain legislation heavily limit how far we can take this. This likely explains your lack of success so far.




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to jcace
26th Jun 2012 16:39

Pro Bono debate

Dear Roland,

I think the fact that you help those individuals mentioned suggests a very sympathetic and community minded spirit which is really great to hear.

In terms of help for non profits (even very small nes like us with little or no Tax, NI or VAT) it remains a real disappointment that - as you say - the number of firms willing to help is vanishingly small..



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By neileg
26th Jun 2012 16:49

We don't shout about it

Every accounting firm I have worked with or for has done pro bono work. It's just not done on an organised countrywide basis and we tend not to make a fuss about it.

Have you tried your local chamber of commerce who may be able to suggest a sympathetic firm?

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to dmmarler
26th Jun 2012 16:53


neileg wrote:

Every accounting firm I have worked with or for has done pro bono work. It's just not done on an organised countrywide basis and we tend not to make a fuss

Lawyers tend to need all the positive PR they can get.

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to dmmarler
26th Jun 2012 16:57

pro bono

Dear Neil

Your kind suggest clearly merits more information.

We have indeed tried industry benevolent organisations, local CVS, national CVS, numerous national quangos set up "to support non profits" (however when you call they invariably send you to other quangos who then do the same - and so on) Ive contacted friends, family (my family is not sadly in accounting) we've tried BITC, Chambers of Commerce, you name it.

Until yesterday I had about thirty different windows open in Firefox of "organisations offering help to non profits and charities" but as I say above when you actually drill down, they have either stopped this service or steer you to other similar organisations that dont do the work, but direct you to other organisations and so on, endlessly!

It is bizarre....

Thankyou for your reply however. It is appreciated.

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26th Jun 2012 17:02

Making a fuss

I think making a fuss is very important. I think it's crucial.

Say what you will about "lawyers" (and we all do!!) the fact that there is a dating service of sorts  is crucial. If you read the subtext for my posting the real issue if FINDING such suitably philanthropic accountants. Thats why LawWorks ...

I am sure they are out there "somewhere" but the key issue is that after a lot of searching I have pretty much given up! (Well I have given up)

If you're "looking for love" then many people say "the right person for you is out there somewhere" but of course the real question is "where do you look" ?

That's us, looking for a little accounting love... to keep on doing good.

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By neileg
26th Jun 2012 17:06


Searching my institute's web site I found a number of items on probono work. This may help you

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26th Jun 2012 17:36

link issues

Thanks again Neil. I indeed did try the ICAEW a couple of years ago with no luck (those we approached had discontinued pro bono) but I'm more than happy to try again and report back here if we get any help / traction.

Unfortunately that link forces me to download a ".ashx" file no matter what I do or how many times I paste the link into the browser.

Any suggestions?


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26th Jun 2012 19:07

Aren't there a few sites doing this?

Assuming you have a part time role, e.g. Treasurer, Part time bookkeeping, P/T Accountant etc I'm not sure why this was even a problem for you. ICAEW advertise though their job service, though not sure if it is free to advertise. Other voluntary charity websites are below;

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26th Jun 2012 21:54


It certainly does exist.

Without knowing what sort of 'accounting support' you need, this may not be appropriate, but the Charity Finance Group runs free advertisments for voluntary Treasurers/Trustees. As its membership is mainly senior charity finance staff, they can be very helpful in helping you set up the systems you need.

Larger firms have structured CSR programmes; for instance Ernst & Youngs is delivered via UnLtd

There's also TrusteeBank

Hope this helps



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27th Jun 2012 13:15

From Cynic Central, UK

Define 'Not for Profit'.  Does this mean that NOBODY gets paid.  If they (you) do why should a professional do their contribution for free?

Rant over.

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16th Oct 2012 12:15

do you still need help?

I'm happy to consider pro bono work. Half my family are teachers, i've worked in film and music - sounds interesting! Take a look at my website - to see if i have right skills...








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12th Nov 2012 09:54

ProBono Accounting


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