I love SPJ.
Because I love money. And my love is cheap.
For a few thousand dollars a year, I endure lots of boring crap. I hope you, as an SPJ Florida board member, maintain the same low standards for your own affections.
But that means talking and thinking about budgeting and investing. Lately, your board has kinda sucked at that. Weirdly, it didn’t used to.
Three years ago, SPJ Florida knew three key stats…
- Money we just made. What did we earn this year from the Sunshine State Awards, our only significant revenue stream?
- Expenses we encumbered. These are obligations we can’t easily shed – like renting the contest software and hiring the chapter administrator.
- What we got left. A running tally of what we’re spending in the same year, so we know how much we can bestow upon programs and scholarships without going in the red.
How do I know you knew this? Besides my fuzzy memory, I consulted your own records. At the chapter’s meeting on Aug. 7, 2013, the minutes reflect your treasurer’s actions…
Brandon has rough budget. Because Tim hasn’t send final budget nothing can be approved. Possible $2,000 deficit from awards and other spending. Balance: Checking $42,047.83; Savings $32,449.12.
The budget smoothed out by the next meeting. The minutes show your treasurer reported…
The chapter shows a net loss, “on paper,” of $2,606.09 for the fiscal year.
The minutes then delve deeper, but just skim the following to get a sense of the detail the board dealt with…
In a nutshell, it is primarily because the 2012 and 2013 student scholarships both hit the checking account in the same year. So, if you remove the $2,500 scholarship expense for 2012 from the 2013 books, we’re within $100 of breaking even for the year. (Likewise, the net profit of $3,916.39 for last year would be reduced by $2,500.) So, the chapter is still in a very good financial position.
So back then, one of your current board members knew how to keep a running tally of the money you made in a year and the money you spent in a year.
But you don’t do that now.
Maybe we cared more about money back then because we didn’t have enough of it. The recession forced us into deficit spending. Today, you’re running a profit – maybe. You don’t know for sure, and that’s troubling.
Three years ago, on Aug. 7, 2013, the minutes reflect…
Tim would like us to pursue an investment strategy. To discuss at later date.
Alas, that date never came. Although at the very next meeting, there were many happy returns…
We earned about $225 extra in interest over 2012 because we cashed out the CD.
So the chapter once invested its money. In fact, that CD was opened when I was chapter president in 2011. And you know who made it happen? The minutes say…
Jason: He gave an overview of opening a new CD. Bank United is waving all the requirements. We just need to sign some paperwork. Then we have to move the money from Bank of America to the new bank. $33,700 is the amount we are putting in.
So back then, one of your current board members knew that FDIC-insured investments could earn enough interest to pay for an entire program.
But you don’t do that now.
Over the past two years, I’ve mentioned budgeting and investing at many of your meetings. Not at all of them, because I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass. (Yes, there are times I try not to be one.)
At this month’s meeting, I was surprised to hear veteran directors say they couldn’t recall any of this. It’s not often I’m accused of being too subtle.
It’s especially weird because Brandon and Jason both did in the past what confuses the board today. And Dori and Michele were serving on the board when the chapter’s finances were worse, but its reporting was better…
- You don’t have a working budget. And haven’t for at least two years. What you call a budget is really just the previous year’s numbers repeated in a new column and left unattended for a dozen months. That’s copying, not budgeting.
- You don’t check your bank statements. You asked your chapter administrator for current balances when it’s easy to log into Bank of America from your phone. I did that during your meeting, which is how I knew you were quoting my regional balance as your own. (It was surreal to be doubted on this point when I was staring at the numbers.) Not confirming your own balances is how SPJ chapters get embezzled, which has sadly happened before.
None of this is meant as a scathing indictment of you and your board. It’s a friendly plea to endure some boring crap so you can keep doing the voodoo you do so well: Training journalists, educating students, impressing readers – and winning Chapter of the Year yet again.