What does it cost?

I spent most of my 3 day weekend helping Chris with what's proven to be a time-consuming but enlightening project: figuring out down to the penny what it costs to run the mission. Basically, he has a 388 page Excel document with a line for every check that was written and every petty cash transaction that occurred, plus all of the revenue that we received from various fundraisers, mariachi CD and T-shirt sales, the thrift store, the hot meal program, etc. My first job was to take a whole bunch of sheets of notebook paper with headings like "SE," "Admin," "San Lucas," "Vehicles," "Utilities-Water," etc., tape them to a table (so we could work with the air on and they wouldn't blow away), and categorize numbers that he would read me into subheadings like, "Bridge Tolls," "Postage," "License Plates," "Salaries," etc. That took around 8 hours on Saturday for the checks, but we knocked out the petty cash in 2 hours or so yesterday. Once that was finished, it was time to enter everything into this massive spreadsheet. My job here was to read off lists of numbers while Chris keyed them in.

It really wasn't as bad as it sounds. I like doing busy work tasks like that--not ones that are a complete waste of time, but things that somebody has to do that will be valuable in the long run. I liked that there was a definite goal in mind and that it was easy to chart our progress month by month, plus it was very systematic and required an organized approach. I don't think I am allowed to talk about numbers too much on here, but I am already starting to see how we can use what we're learning to cut back our costs in certain areas, and also how we can take all this information we've never had before and use it to our advantage, in grant proposals to support specific line items, for instance.

I also spent a couple hours revising some of the articles I wrote for the next YLM newsletter that some of my coworkers and I are trying to get in the mail ASAP. I discovered that maybe I am better at this style of writing--website articles and blogs--than non-profit newsletter writing. People want to read CONCISE emotional stories about lives being touched and hearts being changed, but I feel like when I write stuff like that it becomes mushy and fake-sounding. After awhile every article starts to say more or less the same thing, just with different characters and a different setting. I love this place and want others to love it too--and stuff like that is happening daily--so thankfully with some editing, we're ready to start designing the layout tomorrow. I have a really cool idea for a graphic element to go with the front-page article too so hopefully it works like I want it to!

This morning (after almost finishing the data entry...Chris finished up the last couple sheets this afternoon), we had a servant event staff meeting. We usually try to meet after each "season" to talk about how it went and how we can improve. I had been keeping a list of issues for discussion all summer long, so it was a LOOOOOOONG meeting, but we addressed everything I wanted to address and actually came to some conclusions. Not all though...my brain is fried after trying to figure out how to charge groups for meals with Rita so we at least recoup our costs, no matter how many people they bring, without making things uber-complicated for me or the group leaders. Gonna pray about that one and save it for the morning!

It's bedtime now...I'll probably read until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'm 2/3 of the way through the 3rd book of The Chronicles of Narnia and after taking me awhile to get into, it's getting exciting!

Until next time, blessings!