RE: OPPORTUNITY NOT NUMBERS
(no name) ((no email))
Wed, 2 Dec 1992 18:31:16 CST
U-E68867-Ronald Hart <hart_ronald@AE.GE.COM> writes:
>Tom, I am compelled to write a response to spite the fact that you addressed
>your note to "All Professionals and Past Professionals." I have never been a
>professional, but BSA membership consumes a fair amount of my time so I think I
>can add some thoughts. I've tried to think of the salient points to keep it
>reasonably short, but keep in mind the answers make up an 8 hour course I've
>taught for the "old" East Central Region - Membership Management (Horizons for
>the '90's). My handouts filled a 3 inch binder. Membership is a rather
>complex topic and saying we should look at recruiting instead of retention, is
>a little like saying we should look at outdoor program instead of training.
>1. A distict has 4 funcions - Membership, Finance, Program, and Advancement.
>Everything the district is assigned to do fits into those areas and if your
>district does not have a volunteer responsible for each area - you need to
>put a bur in your District Chairman's saddle.
According to the BSA publications "The District" and "Adminstration of
the District", a district is organized around four or five functions:
Membership/relationships, Finance , Program , Unit Service (and in
larger Districts, Admininstration). There is no function for
advancement, this is part of the PROGRAM function.
There MUST be a group vice-chair for EACH area. It is REQUIRED, even
though most Districts get around this by appointing someone on paper
to fill each position. Note the Unit Service end is where the District
Commissioner fits in and the District Executive (or the Senior
District Executive in larger Districts) serve as the vice-chair for
The Advancement committee is a sub-sub committee of the Program Group
of the District committee.
>2. Our charter from Congress is based in large part on the fact that we are
>a membership based organization and to maintain the charter we have obligations
>"The federal charter from Congress charges the Boy Scouts of America
>to make its program available to all who are eligable, but recognizes
>that young people must become members in order to derive the benefits
>available from the Scouting program. Those who administer the
>program must, therefore, serve the membership and also actively
>and purposefully recruit new members."
This is how many District Executives, especially new ones, are beat
upon the head, shoulders, and tail ends by their bosses.
>3. Membership has 5 major parts and all are required if we are to do our job:
> Recruiting - providing an opportunity for non-members to join the
> the BSA programs and take advantage of its benefits;
> Retention - providing the promised program and benefits so that
> those that have joined will remain;
> Transition - providing assurance that those reaching a milestone of
> age or grade will be permitted to continue in the next phase
> of scouting (ie: Tiger Cub to Cubs and Webelos to Boy Scouts);
> New Unit Growth - providing opportunity for youth to experience the
> benefits of scouting by assisting interested community
> organizations in providing the BSA program to youth in their
> neighborhood or constituency;
> Relationships - providing the communications with community and
> community based organizations, as well as chartering
> organizations about the program benefits offered by BSA.
>If we fail to do any one, then we have failed to do what is required of as
>as district or council volunteers.
I can agree with this. These are all tasks given to the District's
membership/relationships Group to achieve. This is NOT a task for
EVERY volunteer, however. And this, Ron, is where we have major
>4. Your question should properly be addressed to district and council
>chairmen, including the ones in Great Trail Council. It is these ladies and
>gentlemen that are charged with a very important part of our charter. It
>has only been in recent years that Professionals have gotten into the business
>of doing the recruiting and not just facilitating the recruiting. The reason
>they had to was that too many volunteers whined about recruiting or made the
>claims that retention is the savior of scouting.
WRONG! There are several reasons why professionals are doing MORE (we
have always been in the business of recruiting....this is one of the
areas we have been evaluated against) in the area of recruiting:
a.) The environment has changed. The days where you and I can waltz
into a school or church building in our Scout uniforms, hand out
flyers and talk to kids about joining Scouting is nearly over. Most
school systems have elaborate scheldues geared to place you in their
schools when THEY, not you, are ready. And for most volunteers that
cannot get off of work for childcare, let along going to a school to
make a Scouting presentation, the professional is the only one left to
b) Scouting has changed. In the past, we could come into that school,
talk with the students, and promise them the moon, the stars and the
sky. "Scouting is super!" they would say. Then, after we get them to
bring their parents to a meeting, sign them up, and tell them where
the meeting is to be held at, and they show up...vola!! There's either
no leader (which then forces us to "force them" to serve as leaders)
or, what happens more frequently, the leadership of the unit fails to
live up to their expectations. The BSA was successfully sued for such
"breaches of promises" several times in the past five years, and this
has forced lots of local Scout Execs to take the recruiting out of the
hands of the volunteers and into the lap of a already busy
c.) Finances. The fall is the prime time for United
Way/Appeal/Community Chest appeals. If Scouting is to get its fair
share, then we as professionals must show a need for that money.
Meaning: more new units, to justlfy the increase in funding for the
District's share of the operating budget. The spring is no better,
with SME/FOS campaigns designed to show off the units in the District
and to hopefully build upon the campaign from the prior year.
d.) Youth have changed. There are a lot more options for even the
youngest Tiger to do, inside the home, in the local neighborhood, and
in the community at large. Organizations like 4H, Big Brother/Big
Sister, YMCA, and Boy's Clubs are gaining on the BSA quickly in
meeting needs in areas that we don't have units or leadership in.
This requires a concentrated effort from the professional manager as
opposed to volunteers, whom are, IMO, biased toward their own areas of
town or the District and fail to look at the "big picture".
>The real problem is that it
>is not as easy or as much fun as program activities and I'll be the first to
>admit that running a camporee or taking a crew to Philmont or putting on a
>Pinewood Derby is a lot more exciting. However, that is not all there is to
>our program. Finding a chairman for an activity is easy (I can get a couple
>out of any room full of scouters). Putting a membership team or finance team
>together is a different story. And that is why professionals had to get so
This has NEVER been a problem for me. A good, sucessful
Membership/relationship Group takes a strong Scouter to chair. So, I
sought the biggest cheerleader of Scouting my District had, a
Scoutmaster of a small Troop in Hindman. I surrounded him with social
workers, school and church officials, a National Guard soldier, and
the chairman of the area's NAACP chapter. (OH...where did I get these
people?? Look on the charters and find the "chartered partner
representatives" . They are members-at-large of your District
Committee. I just gave them something more to do than to sign papers
and vote once a year!)
Together, they along with the DE and myself, mapped out how the
District was going to meet their membership and unit goals for the
coming year. They kept everyone else....including the District
Commissioner...on their toes, because they were great recruiters for
Scouting in Scouting and in their own areas.
(we also had a stronger pulse into our District's feelings about me,
>5. Measuring whether a district is successful is as arbitrary as measuring a
>unit. The same statement I tell unit leaders holds true - You are growing or
>you are dieing, there is no staying the same. [While many of you may not
>agree, I've been called in late to help save a lot of units and the attitude
>that they did not need to recruit was one of their key problems.] As a
>district you are responsible for multiple programs and so to be successful, the
>all must show growth - hence Balanced Growth targets.
That attitude, Ron, comes from volunteers that tell them "Don't worry
about getting more boys, we'll get them for you each fall." They wait
around until then, by that time the unit has to be reorganized!
>6. You want to retain 100%, but you can't. By age alone a pack will lose
>25% of its membership and a troop will lose 15% (this is statistically based on
>a rolling average). If you can retain 90% of those who are eligable to return
>each year (which would be excellent nationally), then you are faced with a
>declining membership. If you multiply this times the number of packs and troop
>in your district then you should see why recruiting is necessary. This doesn't
>even take into account the effort your commissioner staff must make to make
>sure that all of the units are providing a quality program, so they aren't
>losing even more kids.
>7. Don't ever lose your enthusiasm for providing the kind of program which
>leads to strong retention, but belive me, a lot of people are looking at all
>the things which add up to a quality program. Most young DE's seem to get in
>trouble with volunteers by demanding numbers instead of facilitating the
>opportunity for membership. Blame that on the council management.
Blame this also on the Council/District leadership that set those
goals in advance of the fall roundup. The Council Vice-President for
Membership is where the buck stops, because this person, in concert
with a senior professionals or even the Scout/Council Executive, makes
the goals for the Council in which each District gets a share of.
Please remember that those professionals *do* execute the volunteer's
>8. Your District Chairman can improve the situation by recruiting a membership
>team and not striping the units of key volunteers or the commissioner staff of
>critically needed people from unit service. That is the only aspect of
>recruiting which will lead to that description you make:
>"If there is not a change in the system at some point all of the youth would be
>past Scouts and there would not be a large enough pool of youth to recruit from
>to maintain balanced growth."
>9. I like your proposal, but it will have to be coupled with meaningful
>10. Let me offer some figures on retention. They come from some very strong
>districts which I have analyzed. They all fall within about 3% of each other
>and reflect some of the better districts, but use it in your district as food
Please also note, folks, that the Dan Beard Council is one of the 20
top Councils in both units and membership. I have also added the
national figures as of the last set I could find here for comparision:
> Tiger Cubs retained to Wolf Cubs 80% 74%
> Wolf Cubs to Bear Cubs 95% 82%
> Bear Cubs to Webelos I 85% 71%
> Webelos I to Webelos II 65% 53%
> Webelos II to Boy Scouts 20% 13%
> First Yr Boy Scouts retained 70% 55%
>How does your district stack up to this? Hint, if you recruit 500 new
>Wolf Cubs in a September and retained 90% across the board you would have
>350 new Boy Scouts every year without any recruiting. There is a lot of room
>for improvement. (It is another 8 hours to give the results of this analysis
>as it usually upsets a lot of the audience.)
>11. Tom, if "Programs, plans, everything stops for 30 days so we can recruit,
>recruit, recruit, recruit.", then you need to have your District Chairman
>read the literature that is available to him.
Unlike a few Councils, most Councils' activity come to a screeching
halt at two times of the year and this is VERY FRUSTRATING for
Scouters like me that want to do a year-round program. One time is as
Tom mentioned, each fall, for between 30 and 60 days. This is the
period which also happen to include the fall UW/UA/CC fundraising
drives. We recruit during this time, so that we could request the
maximum and so the public will be reminded that we are still here.
The spring drive happens on the tail end of the Council SME/FOS drive
and is done primarily to get summercamps and daycamps filled for the
If you are used to doing camping activities during those times, you
can but intertroop or District events are held back, primarily because
the DE can't get away from rasing monies long enough to support the
planning. If things DO happen in your District, it is only because of
tradition or because there is some fiery-red Scouter that is doing the
planning (or groups of fiery-red Scouters!).
>My philosophy and I open and close all of my training activities with it:
>EVERY BOY DESERVES THE CHANCE TO BE A SCOUT.
>None of us have a private monopoly on this program and we have an obligation
>to share it with others. As a good friend from another scouting organization
>says: SCOUTING IS NOT A HOBBY, ITS A WAY OF LIFE.
...or as shown on my personal letterhead, "Scouting is much more than
recreation or education or even socialization. Scouting is a way of
life. A better life than the streets, or drugs or videos or all of the
other things out there....."
>In a related area:
>Mark Wilson said to Bob Losee on the subject of "New Troop Standards" on 11/17:
>"You should also talk to other Scoutmasters in the area to make sure that
>there really is room for another troop. DE's are notorious for starting units
>in areas that can't really support it, sometimes to the detriment of existing
>In my experience starting units, Scoutmasters and Cubmasters usually have a
>very protectionist attitude about new units (translated as competition) startin
>near them. I do not like starting a unit if it can't be sustained, but it need
>careful examination. Again, it is the membership committee that needs to be
>addressing the need or the where to start it. When starting a new unit, there
>is always someone that disagrees ( I know I've started 2 Packs, 2 Troops, and
>2 Teams this year). Some of them will not listen to reason.
>The most important item is that it be started correctly, as there is nothing
>I hate more than paper units. And to LEGITIMATIZE one is a lot more work than
>doing the job right the first time.
We are not talking about paper units. We are talking about the
District Executive's role as provider of youth for our units. This is
going to be around with us as we get to a point where we rely more on
the professional than ourselves. WE HIRE THE PROFESSIONALS!
( Settummanque, the blackeagle... ) )
((MAJ) Mike L. Walton (among other "endearing" names) ( )
( (insert good paying job here with lots of benefits!) ___)_ )
( Phone 502-782-7992 | |] )
(3201-D Cave Springs Avenue -- Greenwood, KY 42104-4439 -------- )
( WALTOML@WKUVX1 / "No such thing as strong coffee, only weak people" )
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City