The Power, Lure, and Magic of Numbers

by Linda Besink, Finance Committee, Chair

What do Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, and Kenny G have in common?

Each either studied or have a degree in Accounting.  Jagger studied Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics on a scholarship.  Plant dabbled in accountancy for a few weeks before choosing to study music, but that he considered it at all is not widely known.  And Kenny G holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Washington.

Each and every corporation, including nonprofits like JAG, needs to have a commitment to accounting and place someone in a Treasurer role.  I have filled this role since late 2017 and remain honored to do so.  I do enjoy being a “bean counter.”

Accounting is sometimes regarded as dry and boring.  This is far from the truth!  If you’re someone who values logical thinking and being organized, you probably have some sort of affinity for math and its place in business.

Numbers are pure and constant.  Despite all the inherent challenges, working with numbers helps people with communication skills, allows them to learn new things, and improves their proficiency in spreadsheets.  The scope is literally unlimited, and the excitement of “everything adding up” never fades.  Bookkeeping might seem to be tedious at first, though  it can be continuously interesting if you have an affinity for numbers (or even if you only aspire to it).  Any aspect of business can be or become boring if it doesn’t interest you.  Nobody enjoys watching grass grow.  This happens when you feel there is nothing more to learn.  When you do what you’re interested in, you will take even more interest in learning more about it.

The budgeting process is about more than money.  It touches and influences every aspect and facet of every business.  It promotes problem-solving and brainstorming.  The size and interests of any company do not matter.  It’s rather a holistic approach to the health of an organization.

In my role as JAG Treasurer, accounting and bookkeeping tools have empowered me to be part of larger aspects of JAG; for example, budgeting, cash flow, and decision-making processes in general.  In this sense, there is always room for improvement as well as room to grow.  It’s not a case of merely tallying numbers.

The financial workings of the Jersey Access Group have evolved to be much more complex than when the organization began over 20 years ago.  In those early days, the membership fees were nominal, and we only had one membership category – currently we have five categories.  Since expenses increase as we expand, membership dues are critical to the organizational functions, as well as the overall financial health of JAG.  Additionally, JAG’s annual Eastern Video Expo (a.k.a. the JAG Conference) continues to grow as a major community media event.

JAG’s Treasurer files a number of monthly reports with the Executive Board on the fiscal position of the organization and the filing of annual tax returns.  As JAG is a membership organization, the treasurer is responsible for invoicing and tracking of annual membership dues.  This requires coordination with the Membership Committee as to the addition of all new members and payments received from current members. Members then enjoy access to JAG’s List Serve, JAG’s monthly newsletter and the ability to share content on JAG’s shared server.  Membership in JAG also provides access to the members only section of the JAG website.  This is password protected and each June the Treasurer changes it.  (And here’s a reminder:  the member password will change effective June 1. This annual change exists to ensure security.  A notice will be sent on May 2 with a reminder on May 16.)  Other responsibilities of the Treasurer include chairing the Finance Committee and serving on both the JAG Awards and Conference Committees. 

Not everyone who is employed as accountants or bookkeepers have glamorous tasks such as counting Academy Award ballots (by hand!).  But numbers are the same all over, and when working with them facilitates personal happiness – and even brings joy – the magic of numbers is obvious.  It’s one of the best ways to watch an organization grow and thrive. If you believe you’d like to be an important part of the financial aspects of JAG, please consider joining our Finance Committee.  An accounting background is not required; you only need to have an interest.  The time commitment is minimal, yet the work is important, enjoyable, and satisfying.