Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Budget Blues

I wonder if CEO's in big ol' mahogany boardrooms on high floors with expansive views agonise over their annual budgets the same way I do.

I think probably not.

I'm only the ED of a medium-ish non-profit but on this day that I present my budget for the year starting in September, I am utterly conflicted and feeling vulnerable with my less-than-extensive financial background... they didn't cover managing 2.5 million dollar budgets in my Social Work degree.

I have been staring at multiple spreadsheets and numbers and inputs and considerations and financial statements for days - my eyes are actually physically tired.  My brain is frazzled, terrified of accidentally deleting a formula in excel I could never fix, trying to make line items add up and make sense....

But really it is my heart that is most exercised. 

Not to completely appropriate the cliche of a bleeding heart non-profit leader BUT there are real people behind all these numbers.  

People I care deeply about and for whom I want to do well by. 

I want to pay my incredible people decent wages and offer them good benefits.  But, in this user-pay system, that means asking for more money for the service itself...from families, many of whom are already struggling to pay what we charge in fees now.  Knowing that for every $20/month jump in fees a family could loose their child care. 

It's finer than a fine balance - it's a social fabric balance we really cannot afford to screw up. 

There are times I think this is all a mugs game and I cannot change the world here - I can't live my dream of affording it all - those numbers just won't add up.

But then paradoxically I am reminded that I need to make those columns add up, I need to get that bloody minus sign to take a hike, because this work is worthy... it is needed...it needs to happen.

It's my job to make it so.  

The buck literally stops here (actually come to think of it I could use a few more bucks to stop here anytime now).

So my ED pants are on. The spreadsheets are done.  The columns add up (sort of).

Fingers crossed someone is happy at the end of today.

PS: I won't burden this post with my thoughts on why Early Childhood Education should be publicly funded but trust me....it should be.  And not just for my sanity. 

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