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NGOs are large complex organisations working across multiple countries and regions. They also usually receive funding from many different sources. Therefore, NGOs need accountancy professionals throughout their organisations in order to ensure effective financial management. There are several roles that NGOs often hire accountants for. Here we break down some of the most frequently recruited…
A first NGO job that accountants often take is the role of Finance Officer. NGO Finance Officers are responsible for the day-to-day financial operation on an NGO’s mission. Finance Officers are usually stationed at a field base and take on much of the accountancy that is required. NGOs will also often have a Finance Officer at country office level as well.
The Finance Officer usually reports to the Finance Coordinator. They may line-manage a Finance or Admin Assistant, who will support with the mission’s accountancy. The Finance Officer covers many tasks similar to an accountant in the private or public sector, including record keeping, account closing and budget reporting.
How to Apply
If you are a trained accountant, you are well-placed to apply for NGO Finance Officer roles. As a mid-level position, you will likely need some experience of NGO work to apply for the role of Finance Officer. However, experience in accountancy in the public or private sector would be beneficial.
A second NGO job that accountants can take is… as an accountant! Many larger NGO mission will recruit an accountant to ensure they are remaining financially compliant, and also to oversee financial reporting, record keeping, and to assist with financial management and general accountancy tasks.
The accountant is usually stationed at the NGOs country office, but will travel frequently to field bases as needed. NGOs also recruit accountants to work at their HQs. This position may travel to country offices to support year end closes or large-scale audits.
How to Apply
You will need to be a qualified accountant in order to apply for the position within an NGO. Some understanding of NGO financial processes, including grant management, reporting and audits, would definitely boost your application.
An entry-level position that accountants can take in the NGO sector is the job of Finance Assistant. The Finance Assistant is responsible for providing support to the wider NGO finance team. They can be based at mission level, or at HQ. Some NGO field bases may also have a Finance Assistant, that reports to an Admin-HR or Log-Admin Officer, in-place of a dedicated Finance Officer.
The tasks of the Finance Assistant in an NGO cover many aspects of accountancy. This includes preparing financial reports, getting ready for audits, assisting with account closing and monitoring expenditure.
How to Apply
Qualifying as an accountant is a great step to getting a job as a Finance Assistant with an NGO. As an entry-level position, you are unlikely to need much previous work experience to get a Finance Assistant position in the NGO sector. However, being able to demonstrate you understand how financial management and accountancy supports NGO projects would definitely be an asset.
Budget And Compliance Officer
A key accountancy role in many large NGOs is the Budget and Compliance Officer. This position not only leads on financial forecasting, budget monitoring, financial reporting and assisting with audits, but also focuses on ensuring the NGO remains financially compliant. This is especially important when NGOs have many grants across multiple funding partners, each with their own financing conditions.
The Budget and Compliance Officer is usually stationed at HQ. Very large NGO missions, or regional offices, may have a Budget and Compliance Officer. Usually, the role would report to the Finance Coordinator.
How to Apply
Previous experience working as an accountant, as well as formal accountancy qualifications, will help you get a job as a Budget and Compliance Officer for an NGO. You will likely, in addition, also need an understanding of NGO financial management, as well as donor compliance for major NGO donors.
NGO Finance Online Courses
Anyone in a finance or accounting position within an NGO plays a key role in ensuring the organisations projects are continuously funded. We highly recommend the online course How To Design & Fund International Development NGO Projects for anyone wanting to work in a finance job within the NGO sector. It covers the key concepts of how NGOs develop their programmes and shows how NGO projects can receive long-term funding. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
A fantastic online course for those wanting to take an accounting position with an NGO is the Complete Finance Manager Course. It covers the basics of key accounting processes all NGOs need, including finance management, accounting, budgeting, and administrative systems. It would be a great addition to the CV anyone applying for finance jobs within NGOs. The link is to the course’s page.
Another online course we really recommend for those wanting to get an accounting job in an NGO is Fundraising & Marketing For Non-Profit Organizations. This online short course combines an overview of the key areas of fundraising and marketing – both of which a vital for NGO finance staff. We think it’s a great course for anyone applying for finance roles with NGOs. Follow the link to enroll.
Another job that NGOs often recruit accountants for is Grants Officer. Most NGOs receive grants from large donor organizations. These can be bodies such as the UN, or EU, or the international development departments of national governments. Private foundations also provide grants to NGOs. The role of the Grants Officer is to assist with the day-to-day management of an NGOs funding portfolio.
When the Grants Officer sits at mission level, they are usually part of a wider programmes team. On very large NGO missions, or when stationed at HQ level, the Grants Officer may work within a dedicated grants team. The Grants Officer feeds into many of the accounting aspects of grants management, including coordinating financial reporting, record keeping and financial analysis.
How to Apply
Being a trained accountant gives you many of the foundational skills needed to work as a Grants Officer in the NGO sector. However, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of grants management, as well as probably have some previous experience in the NGO sector.
One of the most senior NGO positions that accountants can take is the role of Finance Coordinator. The Finance Coordinator in an NGO is the management role responsible for overseeing the finance department on a mission. They are usually stationed at country office level but will support finance and accountancy across at the field bases as well.
NGO Finance Coordinators can be stationed at HQ. Here they will often provide support to a range of country offices. Sometimes they will travel out to missions when support for audits or financial reporting is needed.
How to Apply
Holding an accountancy qualification, and having worked as an accountant, will help you in your application to be a Finance Coordinator with an NGO. However, as a senior management position, you will also need several years’ experience in finance roles on NGO missions.
On some smaller NGO missions, the Finance Coordinator role is combined with the Admin Coordinator position. The Admin Coordinator usually feeds heavily into the mission’s accountancy, working on filing, reporting, and liaising with authorities. When this role is combined with the Finance Coordinator position, it makes the role heavily accountancy focused.
The Finance-Admin Coordinator also oversees much of the NGO mission’s HR work, as this usually comes under the remit of the Admin Coordinator. The Finance-Admin Coordinator will be based at the NGO’s country office, and will manage a team of finance, accountancy and HR staff there, as well as support relevant staff at the field bases.
How to Apply
As another senior management position, you will need significant experience in the NGO sector in order to apply for Finance-Admin Coordinator jobs. A background in accountancy will definitely help your application.
If you want to know more about how to get a job at an NGO, including in an accountancy role, explore our list of the top NGO online courses here.