Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President: The dividend of not-for-profits

Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President
By Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President

2 February 2017

ICAS President Ken McHattie CA reveals the third sector is attracting an increasing number of CAs, and with good reason.

An increasing number of our members are embracing the challenge of the not-for-profit sector. That’s not because they want an easy life – usually, it is quite the reverse.

The third sector has been growing in scope, skills and influence for many years; from locally based organisations helping homeless people to significant 'businesses' with a global presence and multi-million pound budgets. 

At this end of the spectrum, the budgets involved can rival those of major commercial organisations, with consequent technical and financial opportunities.

The sector is now responsible for delivering significant elements of the UK’s public services and exercises increasing influence in the delivery of worldwide humanitarian aid projects.  

The not-for-profit sector has traditionally provided roles for CAs later in their careers, often on a pro bono basis. That’s likely to continue to be the case, but recently we have seen a very different type of role for our members, who are now seeing career opportunities in charitable organisations.

The not-for-profit dimension of such organisations is a powerful motivation for many of our members.

So, what’s the attraction? Well, the third sector now boasts a wide variety of organisations, many of which provide opportunities and make demands of their people that go way beyond the traditional or conventional role of the CA.

Increasing numbers of young adults are foregoing the opportunity to spend a gap year backpacking their way around the world. Instead, they have joined organisations like Project Trust, based on the Isle of Coll, and provides opportunities to work in ethical projects around the world.

Many CAs have followed that by choosing to start or develop their career with similar aims in mind; careers where the material rewards may be less than might be available in traditional roles, but where the opportunity to help those less fortunate can provide much in the way of job satisfaction.

The not-for-profit dimension of such organisations is a powerful motivation for many of our members who work in these areas. Being part of an enterprise which has as its aim improving other people’s lives can be both a platform for professional development and personal fulfilment.

Charitable organisations in every sphere are reaping the benefit of employing CAs.

And in those organisations with more limited internal infrastructure, the demands of these jobs will often be much broader and more diverse. This is another major plus for CAs looking to expand their range of professional and life skills.

At the other end of the scale, many third sector businesses are significant in both size and in terms of their global reach and aspirations. 

These organisations can offer CAs 'big business' career development opportunities around the globe while allowing their personnel to embrace the not-for-profit culture.

In return, charitable organisations in every sphere are reaping the benefit of employing CAs who provide technical skills, leadership and much more, ensuring that vital services are delivered to the highest standards and in a sustainable manner.

It seems certain that the charitable sector will play an increasing role in the delivery of public services and humanitarian projects, and I look forward to seeing many more of our members leading these organisations and demonstrating that there’s more than one way of using the valuable skills of the CA and implementing the Power of One.


This article is in the February 2017 edition of CA magazine.

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