AS a chartered accountant specialising in charities and a senior lecturer in accounting at Oxford Brookes Business School, I’m involved in the Accounting for Charities: Engaging Students (ACES) scheme.

After running for five years, the scheme is gathering momentum and we are now looking for voluntary organisations that might benefit.

Oxford Brookes teamed up with Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action on the ACES project to allow accounting students to volunteer with charities needing help with their accounts.

Increasing numbers of students are volunteering to take part in the scheme each year and I am currently calling for second and final year accounting students to volunteer some of their time each week to help local voluntary organisations with their accounting.

The students will help set up and maintain accounting records, with preparation of accounts for board meetings, sometimes even presenting the accounts to the meetings, undertaking independent examinations for smaller charities – anything accounts-related.

At the start of their work with the organisations, the students have training in charity accounting from Oxford-based firm Critchleys, and I support them throughout the period.

Oxford Mail:

Graduating students from Oxford Brookes. Students are getting practical work experience and voluntary organisations are receiving vital help on the ACES project

It’s a win-win situation both for the students, who are getting practical work experience, and the voluntary organisations receiving vital help.

Since the scheme began more than 80 students have volunteered and around 15 organisations have been involved each year. Several students carried on volunteering with their organisation after their ACES year came to an end.

Here is what some organisations have said: s “The ACES project has given us the necessary manpower and skills and we have been inspired by the commitment of the students. It has also forced us to look at our procedures and see how we can improve the way we work.”

  •  “For the first time in six years we were able to claim our gift aid from HMRC, money which we would effectively have lost had we not been able to claim.”
  •  “It has given us a new way of looking at how to do our accounting by ensuring that money donated for specific projects is ring-fenced and not used for general running expenses.”
  • “This scheme... offers a lifeline to small charities which often are unable to afford the services of a qualified accountant.”

The second and third year accounting ACES students appreciate the opportunity to use their skills in a very practical way, which can also help them in a difficult jobs market.

One student commented: “Not only did I get a buzz from helping a charity, but also I gained real-world experience that set me above the rest in the interviewing process.”.

  •  If you are a voluntary organisation, charity, co-op, or an association in Oxford and surrounding area – we have been as far as Wallingford and Banbury – and you could do with an accounts-related helping hand, please get in touch ( with a brief idea of what help you need.

We will contact you for details before matching students to organisations in October/November.