National Hug-an-Accountant Month

I propose we dub this stressful time of year "National Hug-an-Accountant Month" in honor of the behind-the-scenes hard work these unsung professionals do for nonprofits and the community.
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Being an accountant is like being a dentist, only you have to cram all your patients in over the course of just two months. Right now, accountants across the country are working around the clock to help clients get their returns in on time and face the last-minute reality of forking over hard-earned money to the government.

This is not a good month to be an accountant -- or worse yet, to be the child of an accountant who is never home. In that spirit, I wanted to share with you a few examples of how accountants are serving as heroes in our communities by helping schools and nonprofits on a pro bono basis.

Deloitte recently signed up their accountants to do pro bono work for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to find savings in the city's school district budget. This is a critical need for a district comprised of 123 public schools and 52 public charter schools and facing a $600 million deficit.

One of the goals of this work by the accounting firm will be looking into the school system's effectiveness in securing Medicaid reimbursements for services provided to students with disabilities. Apparently, poor tracking of cases and paperwork miscues have resulted in claims that the federal government has disallowed.

This is just one high-profile story of how accountants are giving what they know to impact the community and generate results. Across the country, there are hundreds of less headline-grabbing stories of accountants donating their time and skills to help nonprofits better deliver on their missions.

For instance, Community Accountants, a nonprofit working in Philadelphia, recruits and places accountants in pro bono assignments for small- and medium-sized nonprofit organizations. The accountants revise and/or computerize accounting systems as well as assist in budgeting, payroll and almost any other financial management issue.

Unfortunately, not all cities have programs like Community Accountants. To help address this gap, Clearinghouse for Volunteer Accounting Services, based in California, matches accountants with pro bono assignments nationally. They have helped hundreds of small nonprofit organizations with pro bono services, from cash flow projections to accounting systems to tax return preparations.

These services lay the critical foundation that sets nonprofits up for success. That's why I propose we dub this stressful time of year "National Hug-an-Accountant Month" in honor of the behind-the-scenes hard work these unsung professionals do for the community. But maybe wait for after April 15 -- they'll probably have their hands full until then.

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