The Volunteer Job Nobody Ever Wants

Who wants to be treasurer? Silence.

Right? In every organization I have belonged to, the one position nobody wants is treasurer. Secretary, sure. Vice president? Easy. President? I’m so flattered. But treasurer? Nope, not me. Okay, occasionally a miracle happens and someone says, “Hey, I’ll do it,” but usually there’s some arm-twisting and hyperventilating involved.

I’m no good with numbers. Spreadsheets scare me. You don’t want me handling the books.

What is this about? We were all forced to take math in school. We all somehow manage to handle our personal finances. We can figure out a recipe. Some of us can do the calculations to build things, and some of us can do music math—eighth notes, whole notes, triplets, 4/4, 6/8, 2/2, etc. But when it comes to being the money person, it’s nuh-uh, not me, I need to get some coffee, go to the restroom, make a call . . .

Nobody wants to be treasurer. I am currently president of a writing organization where our treasurer, who took the job reluctantly last fall, has resigned. This is not the first time this has happened. Other treasurers in other groups have quit, and the books landed on my desk. Why? Because everyone else says “not me.” Do I have any special financial gifts? No. But my bills are paid, and I’m no longer afraid of spreadsheets. In fact, I use them a lot in my writing/publishing business. Think graph paper on a computer screen.

While talking to my brother about this on the phone last night, he noted that we both end up being president of every organization we join. That’s true. Our parents raised to be uber organized and to take charge. Or maybe we just can’t stand anyone else being in charge. Something to discuss in therapy.

Mike has experienced the “not me” for treasurer syndrome, too. Working in the legal field, he also has tales of treasurers deciding to borrow a little money for themselves. Yikes. We not only have to find someone who is willing but someone who is honest.

What is this fear of treasurer jobs? It’s not just writers, who claim they’re all right brain, the creative side, with not much going on in the left brain. But hey, they can calculate word counts, syllables and stanzas. If they can write a villanelle poem with its complex pattern, they can be a treasurer.

It’s money in, money out, pay the bills. You can use a calculator. Yet this article from the BBC tells us that 93 percent of American adults say they’re anxious about math. I think that’s a miscalculation, but that explains why almost nobody wants to be treasurer. When you throw in spreadsheets, it’s all over.

It almost feels uncool to say you like math, bookkeeping, money management, etc. But what about all those people who work in banks, credit unions, tax offices, and well, every big and little business that needs someone to do the accounting? We can do math, my friends. Don’t be afraid.

We will find our new treasurer poet and treat them like royalty. It won’t be me. I already have too many jobs. But I could do it if I wanted to.

How about you? Do you feel numerically challenged? Do spreadsheets terrify you? Have you ever been a treasurer? Would you take it on if asked?

A little extra reading:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22545-arithmophobia-fear-of-numbers: Some people are so afraid of numbers, or of certain numbers such as 13, that they have panic attacks. Not good for a potential treasurer.

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200506-how-to-tackle-your-anxiety-about-maths: “You’re not destined to be bad at maths. You just may need to tackle your ‘mathephobia.’”

https://medium.com/@wpecharsky/i-have-ptss-post-traumatic-spreadsheet-syndrome-97d7c20fbc1a “Why I Hate Spreadsheets”

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

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