Ninety-four percent of Americans say they have financial concerns of some sort, according to a 2012 Harris Interactive Survey conducted on behalf of the AICPA. These concerns range from the rising cost of gas to lack of emergency savings to retirement planning. Since launching in 2004, the award-winning 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy (360financialliteracy.org) has brought together CPA volunteers, the state CPA societies, and the Institute in a volunteer effort to help Americans of all ages tackle financial concerns like these and much more. Together, the CPA profession has made an ongoing commitment to improving the financial well-being of our communities and, in the long run, our country. 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy has evolved over the years to address consumer needs and create opportunities for CPAs to share their unique expertise through volunteering. Together we are making a difference, yet, clearly, the need for volunteers remains. Here are nine ways to leverage these programs to help your community:
Be an expert. Volunteer to respond to questions by visitors to the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy and 360 Degrees of Taxes (360taxes.org) websites. These free resources help consumers learn more about CPAs while getting free, unbiased guidance on basic financial matters.
Leverage social media. Use your social media accounts to share tips. Need content? Follow us on Twitter (@360finances and @feedthepig), Like us on Facebook (360 Degrees of Financial Literacy and Benjamin Bankes), and share our content.
Check out AICPA resources. Visit the Financial Literacy Resource Center (aicpa.org/financialliteracy) for turnkey materials for volunteering in your community. Materials include a user guide to get started, PowerPoint slides, and handouts.
Contact your state CPA society. State CPA organizations create incredible community-based events and volunteer opportunities for their members that address the specific financial concerns of local communities. Contact your state society for more information on activities and opportunities to get involved.
Educate your colleagues. Use the resources available on the Workplace Leaders in Financial Education (WLIFE) Award website (wlife.org) to start a workplace education program. This partnership between the Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management honors employers who are committed to developing a financially fit workforce. Consider submitting your program for a WLIFE award. Winners in the first year were honored with events at the Treasury Department and the New York Stock Exchange.
Share resources. Add links to 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy (360financialliteracy.org) and Feed the Pig (feedthepig.org) to your company website or intranet. The 360 website offers more than 1,000 free resources, such as articles and calculators, organized by topic and life stage. The Feed the Pig website features interactive tools to improve the savings habits of 25- to 34-year-olds. All site content is free, and the site does not include promotions for products or services—a distinction that sets the program apart from many others and has resulted in special recognition by federal legislators and policymakers.
Be part of the greater effort. When you’re out in the community, be sure to tie your effort to the national 360 effort.
Go back to school. Use materials like the Feed the Pig for Tweens curriculum (feedthepig.org/tweens) for fourth- to sixth-graders to help local schoolchildren learn money basics. Used to educate more than 1 million students, this program meets Jump$tart standards and was honored with a 2010 Teachers’ Choice Award from Learning magazine.
Follow us. Follow us on Twitter (@360CPAVolunteer) and LinkedIn to learn about the latest developments in our efforts, new volunteer resources, and financial literacy news. Be sure to share your volunteer successes, too!
Jordan D. Amin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior manager at EisnerAmper LLP and chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, and Melora C. Heavey (mailto:email@example.com) is a senior manager for the AICPA communications team.