Treasurers, trained, seeking charities to serve

publication date: Jan 23, 2013

Does your board of directors need an accounting professional? Every board should have one, whether in the role of treasurer or as a source of expertise on accounting practices, governance, and using financial information for management decisions.

Fortunately, PwC and Altruvest have begun to prepare 200 PwC staffers across Canada for the role of treasurer and match them with suitable charities in their communities.

The project partnership gives PwC one more way to boost effectiveness and performance in Canadian charities. PwC will support its employees with training in board governance responsibilities and specialized information about the role of the board treasurer. Aided by a $25,000 grant from PwC, Altruvest will facilitate the board match and act as the central point of contact for charities looking for board directors.

Despite preparation, some surprises

Benefits, pensions and wellness manager Roy Thomson is one of the first to register for the matching program. He’s already taken PwC’s training in board basics and treasurer responsibilities, and hopes the project will match him with a charity focused on health, mental health, sports, youth or education. Right now he’s on the board of the Whitby Minor Lacrosse Association, the nonprofit that runs the league in which his sons play.

“After being elected to that board at a parents’ meeting,” he recalls, “I consulted a colleague who connected me with PwC’s corporate responsibility group. That’s where I learned about all the training the company offers and about the Altruvest program too.”

He quickly learned that some of the practices and knowledge common to everyone in his professional world did not apply in nonprofits. “My biggest learning,” he recalls, “was about the diversity of the group. At the office, we’re all trained professionals. There are no paid staff to do the things you take for granted in the business world.”

But Thomson adapted quickly. Even though he’s not the treasurer of the lacrosse organization, he’s been able to help his board enhance its financial reporting and equipment tracking in ways that are practical and easy for a volunteer association to implement.

For charities, access is broad

Altruvest head Susan Dunne has high hopes for the new partnership. “Charities are very aware of their need for this kind of expertise,” she explains. “Accountants’ professional experience allows them to improve charities’ governance and legal processes as well.”

As Dunne describes it, the matching program is as detailed as screening for potential employees. Candidates create a profile that includes not just their CVs, but other interests and skills, as well as naming the mission areas that mean the most to them. Charities who register include detailed descriptions of their missions, the expertise they need, and the specific positions they want to fill.

Dunne hopes that charities of all sizes will participate in the PwC/Altruvest board matching program. “You don’t have to be large,” she emphasizes. “Passion comes first. If the charity is a good fit, size doesn’t matter.” She’s very thankful to PwC for giving Altruvest the resources to place 200 more trained board candidates into the charitable sector over the next three years.

You might be closer than you think to your next treasurer or financial expert. PwC isn’t just a big-city firm. It has 26 locations all across Canada, from Corner Brook, NL, to Surrey, BC. For more information about this matching program, visit

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