A budget is the monetary reflection of an organization’s values. By setting goals and expectations for revenue and expenses, the organization creates a tangible expression of what it hopes to accomplish and how it intends to get there. All budgets—including ATA’s—express factual information and embody our hopes and goals.
ATA’s budget process begins each year at ATA Headquarters, where our Executive Director, Mooch Bacak, and our Accounting and Finance Manager, Kirk Lawson, prepare an initial draft. The information is compiled in a multi-tab spreadsheet with hundreds of individual items that cover everything from the Annual Conference’s food and beverage expense to website hosting and the certification exam’s proctors. That draft becomes the working budget and is reviewed by ATA’s treasurer (yours truly, in this case) and shared with the Finance and Audit Committee (FAC).
Once the working budget is approved at the spring ATA Board of Directors meeting, individual items are tweaked over the summer by the executive director, accounting and finance manager, and treasurer before a final version is again presented to the FAC. With the FAC’s approval, the budget is then presented to the full ATA Board for final discussion and approval. Our current budget was recently approved at the Board’s quarterly meeting in Portland, Oregon.
ATA operates on a fiscal year that goes from July to June, with our yearly budget covering that same period. This fiscal year has been chosen to avoid an accounting and tax bottleneck at the end of the calendar year, shortly after the Annual Conference, at a time when many members are joining and renewing.
In terms of our current budget for FY2018–19, the headline figure is an estimated $3.24 million in revenue. Most of that will come from membership, which should generate $1.95 million, or 60% of incoming funds. The Annual Conference is our second largest source of revenue. This year, our event in New Orleans is expected to bring in roughly $1.0 million. Apart from membership and the conference, all other revenue streams combined at ATA are responsible for less than 10% of annual funds.
On the other side of the ledger, we have set the operating budget at $3.16 million. The single biggest line item is salaries and benefits, at $1.39 million, or 44% of expenses. It covers the staff at ATA Headquarters who keep ATA running throughout the year, planning the conference, managing the website, organizing events, overseeing certification, and providing support to all the divisions and chapters. Our programs are next, with a budget of $1.06 million. This figure includes the Annual Conference, responsible for the lion’s share of outlays, at around $600,000. Funds have also been earmarked for ATA’s Certification Program ($204,500) and The ATA Chronicle ($120,500). In addition, this year, we have expanded the public relations/marketing budget to $65,000 and set aside $60,000 to begin updating/upgrading our website and database.
Overall, if we stick to the current budget, we can expect to close out FY2018–19 around $77,000 in the black. In short, ATA is on sound financial footing, and our budget represents a responsible and sustainable allocation of available funds.