Shout-out to the numbers lady!

About the middle of each month, Patricia Williams, AHF Financial Officer, puts four thick file folders in my mailbox. They contain bank reconciliations for three separate checking accounts, financial statements for our federal and non-federal accounts, and back-up information regarding how she arrives at the figures in the statements. She also prepares subsidiary ledgers detailing the 50+ grants (we call them “regrants”) we have made to other nonprofit organizations from our active operating grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Excluding the bank statements and back-up, all these reports number at least eleven pages each month!

We like to think that words are our currency in the humanities—and they are if you are a writer, teacher or scholar. But we can’t assemble and disseminate words (and sometimes images), or bring people together around words, without the other currency we’re all so familiar with. Yes, the filthy lucre of money—obtaining it, distributing it, managing it and reporting it—is very much a part of our work.

You may hear from us from time to time about how we need more money and would appreciate a donation. You may hear about our government funds from NEH and the state of Alabama. Yet you rarely hear about how we manage and account for the private and public money we receive and spend. I can assure you that it is a very complex system, which has been made even more challenging by the increasing requirements of federal accountability and stricter auditing standards themselves.

AHF is very fortunate to have had Patricia managing our books for almost 12 years. (She was AHF administrative assistant for seven years before that.) We annually receive clean audits and praise from NEH for our accurate financial reporting. Furthermore, for the many individuals and organizations that receive payments from us for one activity or another, I hope you appreciate how predictable and timely we are in our disbursements to you! So let’s give a shout-out for Patricia Williams, our lady with the green eyeshade who keeps the debits by the door, the credits by the window, and AHF straight between the lines!

Written by: Bob S.