Date posted: 30/03/2022

The CAs who volunteer for not-for-profits: survey results

CAs who support not-for-profits increased the time they spent volunteering during the pandemic, results from our latest survey showed.

In brief

  • CAs who responded to our survey volunteered on average 3.9 hours a week for not for profits
  • Sporting and cultural organisations ranked top among a variety of sectors CAs volunteered in
  • The main motivation for CAs is to ‘help their community’

Chartered Accountants who volunteer for not-for-profits in Australia and New Zealand were generous with their time during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. In fact, they increased their volunteer hours on average compared with results from five years earlier, according to a survey by CA ANZ.

Giving Back, a survey of members volunteering and working in not-for-profits conducted by Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ), found respondents volunteered an average 3.9 hours per week in 2021. That compares with 3.2 hours per week in 2016 when a CA ANZ conducted a similar survey, What Really Counts.

In the general population in Australia, about 2.3 million fewer adults volunteered in 2021 than in 2019, according to surveys by the Australian National University and Volunteering Australia, bringing the proportion of all adults who volunteered to 24% in 2021 from 36% in 2019.1

There were similar declines in New Zealand. In particular, fewer older people volunteered.2  This happened at a time when there was increased demand for volunteers.
It’s important to note that respondents to the CA ANZ surveys were self-selecting. This means the data cannot be extrapolated to represent all members. Rather, it provides a snapshot of some of our members at a particular point of time.

In the 2016 survey, 1,633 members (from a total membership of 117,000 at the time) responded to at least some of the survey questions, while 1,087 members responded to at least some of the questions (from a total membership of 132,000) in 2021.

“The results do offer valuable insights about how, why and where CA ANZ members volunteer and what the organisation can do to further support them and encourage others to volunteer in future.”
Kate Boorer FCA CA ANZ President

The main reason CAs gave in both surveys for volunteering was ‘to help their community’. In the 2021 survey, more categories were added and respondents rated ‘personal satisfaction’ second followed by a ‘sense of professional responsibility’.

Both surveys suggest that CAs volunteer most in sporting and cultural not-for-profits, but the 2021 survey showed they also gave their time to health and social service organisations. They also focused more of their volunteer efforts assisting fewer organisations than in 2016.

Volunteers mainly filled roles on board members (22%), treasurers or finance directors (22%), and accounting (14%).

Respondents to the 2021 survey showed a greater commitment to continuing their pro bono work into the future with nearly 7 out of 10 (68%) saying they would continue at the same level next year, compared to just over half the respondents in the previous survey.

The main barrier to volunteering in both surveys was lack of time, but respondents to the 2021 survey said that they also didn’t have much information about volunteering opportunities.

Participants in the 2021 survey said CA ANZ could do more to support their members to volunteer, including establishing a not-for-profit resource centre and dedicated website, offering professional not-for-profit guidelines, guides and resources and providing training on specific interest areas in the not-for-profit sector.

They also wanted more support and information on governance and compliance, followed by board skills, risk management, financial accounting and management accounting.

“Our members help organisations that are often operating with limited resources to keep going, grow, improve systems and processes and comply with their obligations,” says Boorer. “We celebrate their admirable contributions.”

1 Volunteering during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2021) ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, Volunteering Australia Re-engaging Volunteers and COVID-19
2 JB Were 2021 New Zealand Cause Report