Paying Our Way
Thursday, November 14, 2019
One of the challenges of any large organization is ensuring that we carefully align our investments—of time, energy, and fiscal resources—with our mission and values. ATHE’s recent transition in management required an additional investment of resources beyond those imagined when we began the budgeting process for this fiscal year.
To give you some context about how our budget works, our fiscal year runs not on the calendar year, but from June 1 – May 31, and we approve our fiscal year budget at the January Governing Council meeting. The unique challenge of this schedule is that we approve a budget based on income projection for membership and conference attendance. While we have a sense of projected conference attendance based on the number of proposal submissions, we do not have a fixed number of conference attendees and membership renewals until the fiscal year is underway, 5-6 months after budget approval. The last few years, we’ve had fluctuations that have made these predictions difficult to make with a great deal of accuracy, and in preparing the budget for our conference, we make decisions based on these predictions. This means that when our actual revenue is below predictions, we have very little flexibility to make changes in the budget. In Orlando, we did not reach our target budget numbers for conference registration. This problem was exacerbated by individuals who were accepted to present (and appeared in the program) but did not in fact register for the conference. Coupled with a slightly lower membership base than previous years, we also fell short in projected membership dues.
While we still have a strong and healthy reserve fund to support the organization, we are working to make sure that we maintain a more precise annual budget and are planning to budget more conservatively for future revenue projections. I am working closely with our Executive Director Aimee Zygmonski, who brings significant budget experience from her previous employment, to refine the annual budget process, clarifying how, where, and why we spend funds. While this oversight will help us ensure we are devoting our resources to key priorities, we also need to consider new sources of revenue. As with any theatrical endeavor, finding additional sources of revenue is challenging, but following the budget process for 2020-21, I plan to work actively with the Finance Committee to consider potential new efficiencies and sources for philanthropic investment to ensure we are fiscally healthy for years to come.
Jon D. Rossini