The club has experienced some growth over the last few years. Sure, the character of the club is largely the same with its monthly meetings (with great speakers), Field Day, and "Pumpkin Patrol" on Halloween. But the influx of new members, new ideas, and lots of energy to go along with those fresh faces, has pushed the club leadership a bit. Change is good.
Last night, in a marathon session that lasted nearly three hours, we created the club's first ever budget. We have money allocated for club activities, a plan to put some in savings for future equipment acquisition, and also a little pile of money to be put away for "a rainy day." I believe we did a very good thing.
In all the posts I've made about DXpedition planning I cannot remember any that specifically addressed the financial aspect of these endeavors. If you are planning a vacation and the radio is simply going along for the ride, then perhaps no additional financial planning needs to be made. But, if you are planning a trip like the one I made to Montserrat with a group, there will need to be a financial plan, a budget, accounting, and record keeping.
These was precious little enthusiasm for this work among the BUMS so I handled most of it. Still, from the very first teleconference held in August of 2006, I pressed other team members to assist in the record keeping for all our financial dealings to ensure we had a good accounting of the money spent, where it went, and which pocket was picked. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, you want to make sure that bills are paid on time so the trip can proceed as planned. Secondly, team members should pay their fair share, no more, no less. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you want all team members to know that the financial burdens were shared fairly. It would hardly do to have rock-solid planning for your trip scuttled by bad feelings over money due to bad accounting!
Creating a budget wasn't easy for our group last night. One of the things we wrestled with was articulating, and then justifying, the club goals for the next fiscal year. Just as we did last night, a DXpedition team should also have definitive goals. One way of making sure everybody shares the same vision for those goals is to put a dollar figure on it!
You do not need to have a college degree in accounting to do a good job tracking the finances of even a relatively large DXpedition. I happen to believe that anybody who can get an amateur radio license and organize the other aspects of such a trip can use a spreadsheet, or even paper and pencil, well enough to track the finances for an excursion. Even if you are "all friends" and "we don't need to keep track of things so closely" and "it will all work out in the end", there are good, solid reasons why you should be a little nit-picky on this anyway. As I have stated for other aspects of trip planning, anything that averts trouble or avoids wasting island time is worthwhile. This is worthwhile.