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  • Writer's pictureKevin Phillips

Budgets: All About the Money

I've led successful nonprofit organizations for 30 years. A criticism I have heard for all those 30 years is, "All you care about is money."

A successful nonprofit is its staying power. We cannot do what we do if we can't pay the landlords, the utility companies, the internet providers, the grocery stores, and the office supply stores that enable us to do what we do.

So, as the CEO responsible for the sustainabilty of ARS, yeah, your right, I do care about money. And the ARS Board of Directors cares about money. But money is not all we care about. We care about money because we care about people.

We are deeply committed to people. We are committed to the people who provide us the spaces we use, who keep the electricity on and the gas flowing.

We are committed to the software engineers who provide our internet service. We are committed to farmers who grow the food we eat and to the people who manufacture the supplies we use and the truck drivers who deliver it.

We care about these people. They all have families to feed and mortgages or rents to pay. Because we care about them, we care about money. When we pay our bills, they get to eat.

And these are not the only people we care about.

We also care about our staff. We care about our AOD Counselors, our Rec Techs, our Operations team. We care about the guys who maintain our facilities.

We care about the ARS staff so much we want to pay them. We want to resource them so that they can eat, pay their rent, clothe their bodies, put gas in their cars, and live with dignity.

When the ARS team earns a living wage, they are able to focus on other people we care about, the people we serve.

We care about the homeless old man who has lived on the street for 30 years finding relief in a bottle.

We care about the young man who has just been released from prison because when he was a teenager he worked out his frustration and fear and resentment by smoking weed and smoking meth and making poor decisions.

We care about the mother who is about to have her children taken away because she has not yet learned how to make it in a world that does not care about her or because she has not yet learned that she deserves better than to have to deal with a man who beats her.

We care about these people. And our care for them is more than passing sentiment. It is not something we feel and forget as we drive by a human being holding a sign that reads, "Please help." We care enough to actually do something to help.

So, yeah, we care about money. As the CEO and Executive Director, I care about the money. I care a lot about the money. I spend a good part of my working life caring about the money.

I am currently working on the ARS 2023 Annual Report. As I study financial statements; and as I create the 2024 budget; and as I ponder how we will raise the money to pay for the work we do; I am all about the money.

But that does not mean that ARS is about the money. Ask anyone the ARS team what we are about and they will tell you.

ARS is all about the people we serve. My job is to make sure that we will be around to serve them for many years to come.

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