A Message From The President

February 2022

Athena’s treasurer, Zoe Gustafson, likes to say that Athena does more with $100,000 than most.  That’s a powerful strength.

While we certainly make the most of it, our income often does not cover what we spend.  As you can see on our website, the Athena Society went into the 2022-23 year projecting a financial deficit of $20,270.  This isn’t an isolated incident: Records show three of the last four years ended in the red.

There are reasons for the deficits.  Last year, members were offered dues rebates totaling $24,500, since Athena had no events.  That cut projected income by 22%.  Some years, the overage is mission driven: dedicating $15,000 for a lobbyist to advance passage of the ERA, for example.  Other years, the extra expense is discretionary, such as $20,000 for our anniversary party.

Sometimes, we get saved.  Roughly half our members generously returned the dues discount this year.  COVID, despite its mental, emotional, and physical toll, has allowed us to operate at a lower cost.

Even when we run in the red, our Policy and Procedures direct us to transfer 10% of unrestricted cash each year to the Athena Society Women’s Education Fund within the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, which is solely for Career Assistance Grants.  Making that contribution now leaves Athena with roughly $180,000 of unrestricted cash.

To protect our bedrock, Zoe proposed increasing Athena’s minimum reserve fund, as stated in our Policy and Procedures, from $20,000 to $50,000.  Ensuring an adequate reserve has been a concern since June 2019.  Back then, the Board recommended doubling the minimum but did not take a vote to enact the change, according to Board meeting minutes.  Zoe estimates that $50,000 would cover current fixed expenses — our administrator, accountant, licenses, taxes and insurance, website, and accounting software — for one year.  The board approved the increase unanimously.

Further improvements come from our President-Elect, Denise Jordan.  Denise spearheaded this year’s Financial Transparency Initiative, presenting easily digestible nuggets of Athena’s finances in visually appealing formats in our newsletter.  Denise also designed budget templates to kickstart each committee’s specific, categorized estimates of anticipated revenue and expenses. This gives our budgeting a backbone.  Denise is known for having previously revolutionized the Young Women of Promise process, now organized and easily replicated.  As she leads budget discussions in the coming months, that discipline, detail, and clarity will no doubt serve Athena well.

We are nothing if not funding our programs, furthering our mission, and broadcasting our message.  For that reason, sustaining financial firepower becomes ever more critical if we wish to cultivate Athena’s strength for future generations of change-making women.