The Wisconsin Medical Society has simplified its budget by using a color-coded system designed to enable “at-a-glance” understanding of the association’s finances. Though the multi-million budget is complex, the color-coded reporting makes it easier to understand than a traditional budget, especially for the organization’s volunteer leaders.
CFO Bob Foulks and his staff crafted the color-coded system, which links to the strategic plan and assigns expenses to specific activities. Says Foulks, “The system allows for easier tracking of performance vs. simply micro-managing of the budget, and enables a simpler fulfillment of fiduciary responsibility.”
Foulks explains: “I could simply encode all of my time to ‘Accounting,’ but instead I use a time-keeping system which tracks codes for their different tasks.” One day, he spent seven hours on their county society effort and one hour on their for-profit subsidiary. In the past, this would all have been lumped together. The new format provides a more accurate picture of where and how the association’s resources are being spent and has resulted in increased awareness among board members, especially with regard to the implementation of the association’s strategic plan.
Foulks encourages associations to rethink their budgets to show both value and real cost to members for each activity. Billing all time per coded sub-activity allows for easier analysis of the value of activities and the association has been able to eliminate some due to inactivity.