Using your skills and interests to make a difference

By Andrew Cropcho, Tax Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP and volunteer tax preparer, United Way’s Free Tax Prep Initiative

Giving back has always been an important part of my life. Even in college, when time and resources were limited, my fraternity brothers and I found ways to give back, like raising money for charities and cleaning up our neighborhood. As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve found that volunteering is most rewarding when you find the right opportunity to fit your skills and interests.

There were three things that held my interest throughout my academic career and also life in general: research, writing, and numbers. That is why I went into tax accounting, and it is also why I decided to sign up with United Way of Southwestern PA as a volunteer tax preparer through its Free Tax Preparation initiative. The training and skills I have developed through my job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PwC) have been a valuable asset to my volunteer work, and the diverse experiences I’ve had volunteering for the Free Tax Prep initiative have had a meaningful impact on my career at PwC.

If you’re like me, you want to find ways to give back that fit your situation. Here are some points to consider when deciding what volunteer opportunity is right for you:


Put your unique skillset and interests to work.

In virtually every profession, there’s a unique way that you can apply your skills or volunteer your services to make a difference for people in need.

For example, my accounting skills allow me to meet a specific need for local people. Taxes can be a great source of stress for anyone. Taxpayers using the Free Tax Prep service often share stories of how they’ll be using their anticipated refund to fulfill basic needs or help build their savings accounts – things they may be unable to do without the help of volunteer tax preparers. I am fortunate enough to have developed a skillset that allows me to help these deserving people receive more of the tax credits and refunds they have earned.

You don’t have to be an accountant to make a difference. Find volunteer opportunities that will allow you to use your own unique skills and interests.


Be proactive.

Volunteer opportunities won’t necessarily find you, so it’s important to be proactive and research causes that matter to you. We’re lucky enough to have the internet and its wealth of information at our fingertips. With some key search terms and a few minutes of reading, you’re likely to get inspired to take action for a cause. From there, it’s all about finding a way to contribute your skillset and motivation toward providing support for that cause.


Make time to give back.

No matter your situation, organizations like United Way are dedicated to putting their volunteers’ extra resources toward a nobel and meaningful cause. It doesn’t take a ton of time or specific training – make time in your schedule to give back in a way that works for you.

Figuring out the best cause or opportunity for your interests and skillset is important to giving back in the most meaningful way. United Way offers opportunities that are diverse in time commitment, skill level, age group and more. Take a look on their website:

I found the right opportunity to volunteer through United Way’s Free Tax Prep initiative. They are still taking volunteer tax preparers until January 6. Learn more about how you can get involved at