Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Fri, 16 Jun 1995 00:36:08 -0400
There has been some good discussion on unit fundraising with some great
ideas and a number of questions about different Council policies on
raising money above the unit level. I can remember all too well the
resentment I felt after struggling to raise enough money to keep a Pack
running, when the local District fellow came around wanting more money for
FOS to support Scouting. I though what the devil? We don't get much from
Council and need the money right here! Boy was I wrong. The high quality
program we got was the result of a lot of unseen effort. I started
thinking about what it cost to run the high adventure bases, camps,
camporees, pinewood derbies, etc.; what it cost to keep the records, to
have inventories of badges on hand, and just about everything else we take
for granted. Its no small cost. And oh yea - there's the professional
staff that's always there working a lot more hours for a lot less money
than many of the folks that complained loudest in my Pack. Got to
thinking that maybe it was just a little reasonable to have to pay for all
this good stuff. Which brings me to this:
Now is a tough time for Scouting financially. Used to be that Scouting
was one of the main beneficiaries of United Way/United Fund/Community
Chest/Combined Federal Campaign fundraising efforts. Now we all know just
how bewildering the list of supported organizations is - it takes over a
hundred pages just to list them in our area. Scouting's cut of the pie
has diminished. Over the years Scouting has attempted to shore up its
finances with SME/FOS and other finance campaigns. At the same time the
costs of maintaining camps, service centers, etc. has been increasing.
Worse the number of lawsuits has been rising and they are expensive to
defend, even if you win.
A lot of Scouting's financial support is also tied to the fortunes of the
surrounding community. And when the local area is experiencing tough
times, that means that Scouting is also going to feel the pinch.
Many smaller Councils and many in areas hard hit by economic problems are
finding it increasingly more difficult to make ends meet. Our own Council
has had the same experience of less community money and the devastating
effect of downsizing economies.
Each of these Councils is and will continue to try to find methods to keep
the program operating and open to as many boys as possible. For a very
long time it was taboo to charge the actual cost of camp, the actual cost
of programs, etc. because we wanted as many boys as possible to join
regardless of financial circumstance.
Now each Council is coping in the best way it can. You will be seeing new
approaches like Council registration fees, more emphasis on FOS, Councils
taking a percentage of fundraisers, etc., depending on what the local
Council feels is the best way to deal with its situation. Some Councils
are merging to get a healthier financial base too.
Each of our Councils will be taking different approaches depending on
circumstances and needs. And a lot of these approaches are based on what
the volunteers in the local area have decided; e.g. the Council Executive
Scouting needs financial support to continue to provide the quality of
programs it offers. As much as we all might bemoan FOS, etc., its a reality.
Continuing to provide a high quality program is not without its costs.
Its great, if we can get others to help pay the bills, if not we have to
help as much as we can, whethers its a few dollars or many.
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
Prof. Beaver, Nat. Capital Area Council, BSA mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City