Last month we blogged about the 40th anniversary of the FASB. So, why not mention two other anniversaries this year – the 10th anniversary of both the Society’s CPA Day of Service and the last paper and pencil CPA Exam (can you believe it’s been that long?). The two were connected for us.

CPA_DAYOur first CPA Day of Service was held on November 7, 2003. We have moved it to September to take advantage of better weather (this year’s was September 20), but the date for the first CPA Day of Service was chosen because it was the day after the final two-day, twice a year, paper and pencil CPA Exam was administered on November 5-6, 2003. The thought was the profession would be in the news and it would be a good time for a day out of the office to celebrate. If you wondered, the computerized CPA Exam was launched in April 2004.

The concept for a CPA Day of Service came from the work of an INCPAS Branding Task Force.  Many CPAs had done volunteer work in their communities, but awareness among the public was not as high as it could be. By organizing a large number of CPAs, staff and even college accounting students to do community service work on a single day, we felt we could not only encourage more members to participate in these types of activities, but also generate exposure for both the CPA profession and the needy organizations they served (INCPAS partnered with the United Way of Central Indiana in the first couple of years to match members with volunteer projects).

It’s been a resounding success for 10 years running. That first year we had almost 200 participants working at volunteer projects (typically indoor and outdoor improvement projects) in 20 cities. By 2004, we nearly doubled that number to 370. In recent years we’ve been in the 400-500 range, with a high of more than 900 in 2011. Over 10 years, nearly 5,000 have participated. One thing that changed too was that instead of assigning members to projects, we encouraged them to identify their own projects.

But the CPA Day of Service is more than numbers. It has become an annual tradition for many members and their firms or companies. It is also highly valued by organizations around the state because they can count on a group of dedicated volunteers to work for a full day. And there has been some good media coverage over the years with newspaper articles and photographs. This year there were mentions in The Indianapolis Star, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and the Greensburg Daily News.

To get a sense for what it’s like to participate and what it means to those who do, check out our new Inside INCPAS video from this year’s CPA Day of Service. You can also view photos from several volunteer locations on our Facebook page.

Not only have we accomplished our goals, but at least five other state CPA societies (Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Idaho) have modeled similar events after ours – they even call it “CPA Day of Service” and most are held on the same day. That may be the biggest compliment. In fact, Accounting Web has published two articles (1, 2) last year and this year that talk about the trend of CPA Days of Service. And to think, we started it all!