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JACL National President Gary Mayeda, VP of Membership and Services Haruka Roudebush, JACL Associate Director Stephanie Nitahara and CCDC Gov. Roberta Barton at the Feb. 3 JACL National Board meeting at JACL Headquarters in San Francisco. (Photo: Susan Yokoyama)

Secretary/Treasurer Alan Nishi cautions that the organization needs to continue to have firm financial goals in place.

By P.C. Staff

To describe the state of National JACL’s budget, one could accurately say it’s “in the black” — but followed by an “ish.”

Alan Nishi (File photo)

In his preliminary treasurer’s report on Feb. 3 to the JACL National Board at JACL headquarters in San Francisco, National JACL Secretary/Treasurer Alan Nishi reported net revenue over expenses was up $479,000.

While the news is undoubtedly good for the organization, Nishi said, “The bottom line looks good right now, but you have to recognize what caused that, and it’s nonrecurring revenue sources, which is not something you can budget on moving forward.”

The major “nonrecurring revenue sources” Nishi cited were several 2017 bequeaths, noting, as an example, that in December, the JACL received an unexpected bequeath from an anonymous donor of about $45,000.

“Public support exceeded the year-to-date budget by $569,000. That’s a lot. That includes donations,” Nishi said. “It primarily includes a lot of bequeaths that we received.” He also noted that nonrecurring revenue sources were something that JACL could not and should not rely on to reach its budgetary goals.

“Ideally, you want to see your membership and your regular expenses be able to cover itself,” Nishi said. “In this case here, it took nonrecurring revenue sources to basically meet our expenses. If it hadn’t been for that, we probably would have had an operating deficit of roughly $277,000 for the year.”

“We need reliable sources of revenue, and hopefully, if we can get fundraising off the ground, we can get a consistent level of revenues coming in,” he said, noting that in this area, JACL fell short of budget by $145,000.

“I’m not counting on us getting more bequeaths this year. I’m really not. But if it comes in, I’ll take it,” Nishi added. “My agenda is to be in the black. I consider not only us lucky in 2017, I consider me as treasurer being lucky in 2017.”

Other reasons cited for the good fiscal news were 2017’s booming stock market, which translated into unrealized capital gains, as well as savings from unfilled and partially unfilled staff positions, which translated to savings of about $72,000 in personnel costs.

Noting that the bulk of JACL’s assets are in investment funds, Nishi said, “We’ve been very fortunate. Our stock market is at near historic highs for most of this past year, so we exceeded budget on our investment revenue income. Again, this includes unrealized capital gains, which can change in an instant, but we ended up with $219,000 over budget. It’s another area of concern that I have, although it’s a good thing here.”

Also good: Nishi said that on grants, JACL came in at $164,481 vs. the budget of $164,210.

“The grants that we received, we used to help fund our programing,” he said. “Revenue side, we were on budget.”

Other bright spots: Overall total expenses were $26,000 under budget, as were scholarship/fellow/intern expenses, which were $30,000 under budget.

Meetings and conferences, however, were over budget by $29,000, and Nishi broached his concerns over JACL’s fiscal status in the coming months. For instance, he said fundraising fell short of the budget by $145,000. “Not a good thing. We’ll be depending on that for 2018,” Nishi said.

Membership dues, meantime, were down about $8,000.

For the Pacific Citizen, Nishi noted that the JACL newspaper’s budget was $172,000 short of the budget — but that December’s numbers, which include Holiday Issue revenue, had not yet been included.

“That will probably knock it down another $60,000 or so,” Nishi said.

Nishi noted his concern for the Pacific Citizen’s future fundraising revenue, saying that “we’re going to be short at least $100,000 going into the year, instantly.”

Nishi said that JACL business manager Matt Walters had been scheduled to provide details on the new bookkeeping arrangements between National JACL and the Pacific Citizen, but he fell ill and was absent from the meeting.

Nishi also included a breakdown of 2017 Legacy Fund distributions as follows: General Operations, 60 percent, or $221,422; Chapter Rebates, 20 percent, or $73,807; Grants, 10 percent, or $36,904; Reinvestment, 5 percent, or $18,452; and General Support/Reinvestment, 5 percent, or $18,452, all for a total of $369,037.

According to Nishi, JACL’s reserve fund, which is used as a safety net to cover potential deficits, was at $430,000 as of September 2017, and it includes excess cash received earlier in the year from the 2017 budget.

“The $430,000 represents about 20 percent of our 2018 operating budget,” Nishi said. “My goal is to preserve that in our treasury at all times. I really believe we’re going to need it moving forward.”

As for that 2018 budget, Nishi said he would get into that at the next National Board meeting, which is set for April 28, again at JACL Headquarters in San Francisco. A biennial budget committee meeting is tentatively set for March.