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JCC State of Mind – July 5, 2024

Posted by Jason Kunzman, JCC President and CEO on July 5, 2024

Summer is a VERY busy time at the JCC. Bus songs, swim lessons, canoeing and kayaking, boat rides and knee boarding, ziplining, nature hikes, trips abroad, arts & crafts, sports of all sorts, color war and much more. While any of these activities would make a good theme for a Shabbat weekly message, another lesser-known and much less appreciated summertime undertaking at the JCC – our annual budgeting process – also has a lot to offer in terms of planning for organizational and individual success throughout the year. In true JCC fashion, not only are our camps all about connections, values, growth and fun, but so is our budgeting process!

Budgeting is the ultimate team sport. No single member of our staff has all of the answers. While members of our Leadership Team are ultimately responsible for submitting the spreadsheets that capture each department’s financial roadmap for the upcoming year, many more members of the workforce provide input to what is ultimately turned in. By involving others in the budgeting process, we hope to better ensure that everyone understands the financial goals and constraints, ultimately fostering a sense of ownership and commitment to the organization’s financial objectives. Clear communication of budget expectations also helps align individual and departmental goals with the organization’s overall strategy.

Before anyone pulls out a calculator or starts filling in an Excel spreadsheet, our Leadership Team is asked to complete an annual business plan. The template provided asks questions such as, “What is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you and your team to do what you do?” and “What are the things that make your division special or stand out or better than the competition?” and “What can your division improve upon relative to the competition?” and “What elements in the external environment could your division use to its advantage?” Budgeting is a time for our team to think and to dream in color about what is possible in the coming year. Of course, just like any other business, the numbers matter and ideally the income will be more than the expenses, but our process is more about the opportunity for employee motivation and engagement, strategic alignment and goal setting.

A well-structured budgeting process can reinforce a culture of discipline and accountability. It promotes a mindset of careful planning and responsible financial management. Throughout the process, issues such as resource allocation, risk management and compliance, cost control and efficiency and performance management are all discussed and ultimately influence the numbers that are entered into the budget itself. Instead of sheltering our workforce from the underlying factors that drive the budgeting process, we believe that the JCC can more effectively and efficiently meet community demand through a collaborative budgeting process that asks tough questions about capacity, trends, bandwidth and feasibility.

It’s true. Budgeting can be fun! Not only have I seen pop-up budgeting lunches and dinners (sometimes with a bottle of wine!) throughout the JCC, but there are known to be a lot of high fives and other forms of celebration after our Budget & Finance Committee and Board of Directors ultimately approve our annual operating plan.

Budgeting at the JCC is definitely a unique experience, and despite the typical distractions of the summer months, we implement a fairly well-structured process that not only results in a financial and operational roadmap for the following year but also prepares the organization to take advantage of future opportunities and respond to uncertainties. By remaining true to who we are and what we are all about – Connections, Values, Growth and Fun – our budgeting process is more of a comprehensive tool for organizational success. While the annual budgeting process is fundamentally about financial planning, its importance extends beyond purely financial reasons.

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat shalom,

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