Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Troop Bank Account
Re: Troop Bank Account
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 03:00:11 -0600
There is no specific rules on how to adminster a unit banking
account...it will vary from local Council to local Council. So
please ASK your local BSA or GSUSA Council BEFORE opening up a unit
account to insure that you'll meeting their policies!
There's some "Scouter's (Common) Sense" things, however, that I've
found over the years to be of great help to units having such a
First, the account should NEVER be in the name of anyone BUT the
FULL NAME OF THE UNIT (i.e. "Boy Scout Troop 000, New City,
Kentucky 40599", "Explorer Post 000, WEPZ-FM 88.9, New City,
Kentucky 40599", "Cadette Girl Scout Troop 000, New City,
Kentucky.") The full name prevents fraud as well as completely
identifying the purpose of the account. "Scout Troop" doesn't
readily do this, and in some cases, can be circumvented by people.
Same goes for "Troop", "Pack", "Post", "Team"...well...you get the
The best checks I've seen list the unit name in full, followed by
the name of the chartered organization. Some folks place the name
of the local Council on the checks...DON'T, unless you want your
Council to gain "ownership" of your unit's funds! Also DON'T put
"BSA" or "Boy Scouts of America" or "B.S.A." because that also
"obligates" the Council to become involved "as the executive of the
Boy Scouts of America".
Second, the account MUST be approved PRIOR to establishment by the
chartered organization. Many chartered organizations (churches,
schools, small and large businesses, civic groups) may already have
checking accounts and would rather, despite your intentions and
objections, to manage the finances as a consolidated means instead
of separately with many checking accounts to "keep tabs on." Go
with the flow...there's NOTHING that says your unit MUST have a
checking account. Even if your unit "racks in the dough," if your
chartered organization says "it goes into a big pot and we dish it
out to you when we're ready," those are the breaks.
Your unit BELONGS to the chartered organization. Period.
Third, the signature card (the document that actually allows you to
write checks off the account) should be completed by EVERYONE
ENTITLED TO DEPOSIT OR WITHDRAW FROM THAT ACCOUNT. While
technically, anyone can deposit money into your account, the
signature card gives your unit added insurance because if the
bank's doing their business right, they should be "matching up" the
names (and signatures!) of the depositors and withdrawers every
time. Who should be on the signature card??
*The unit leader and the senior assistant unit leader
*The youth leader (no assistants)
*The chair of the lay committee (Pack, Troop, Team, Post, Ship,
*Two other individuals from the lay committee (treasurer, another
*The chartered organizational representative
*The head of the chartered organization
THREE SIGNATURES should be required (I know, I know...many units
use two signatures....but to be really honest, three should be
asked for): One of the signatures should be either the unit leader,
assistant unit leader, or youth leader. Another signature should
be that of the chair of the lay committee or the treasurer. And a
final signature should be of either another committeemember, the
Chartered Organizational Represenative or the head of the chartered
Why so many people?? Because large amounts of money have been
taken from unit accounts and split up between the Committee Chair
and the primary Scout leader (Scoutmasters in most cases) simply
because there was no oversight between those two individuals. You
need money...get ahold of the Committee Chair, you sign, he or she
signs, you take the check to the bank, and it may be MONTHS before
anyone found out what the check was for or why it was wrote.
Besides, a lot of times, checks are written not because of planning
things out, but because of "last minute things" which weren't
Fourth, your unit account MUST be audited BY AN INDEPENDENT
THIRD-PARTY at least ONCE A YEAR. Do it as part of the
rechartering process, and things should go easy. Many banks,
savings and loan associations, and credit unions will audit the
account for a small fee, or you can enlist the assistance of "your
friendly neighborhood District or Council Finance Committeemember"
(which is part of the reason why we have those volunteers!)
By getting others outside your unit to review your unit's account,
they can see patterns and inconsistancies that you would otherwise
shrug off as "poor accounting" or "well, that's Mike. He could
never manage a checkbook well...we'll let it go."
And yeah, as Jessi constantly reminds me, that two cents can make
the difference between a "bounced check" and that check going
Five, INVOLVE YOUR YOUTH OFFICERS. Remember why we do Scouting in
the first place. It is never too early to teach them how to manage
small amounts of money. Your Senior Patrol Leader should be given
"signature authority" because it reminds us adults that "this is
their program and they should be aware of what we're spending money
on." This becomes just as important a leadership and
responsibility step for the SPL as attending the training or
leading his first Troop meeting. Remember that he's ONE of THREE
(or two) signatures of any checks.....so don't worry about him
running off with a checkbook and a pen!
Six, STAY AWAY FROM THE CHECK/DEBIT CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are *very convienent* for the unit leader to have for
"emergencies"; only thing, those "emergencies" come up way too
often!!! If your bank, savings and loan, or credit union offer the
card, make sure that either the unit turns it down, or gives the
card to the head of the chartered organization...in TWO PIECES so
that even he or she won't be tempted with the money in the unit's
account. Remember that some of our unit's accounts have balances
in excess of two to four THOUSAND dollars and that's a large
temptation for ANYONE!!
Seven, RULES, RULES and WRITTEN RULES!!! The policies of your unit
should be in WRITING and should come from your youth leaders, the
unit committee and the chartered organization. These policies
should once and for all address those "sticky issues" like "if a
Scout leaves your Troop, does he take part or all of the money he
earned with him?" and "if a Scout participates in an activity and
he is told to leave due to behavior, does he get his money back?"
(I know, I know.....but those are the kind of things we talk about
here all of the time, and it comes down to what the unit has
written as policy and whether or not the unit has told parents and
youth members about those policies).
Again remember, that your unit belongs to the chartered
organization and if they have policies relating to finances, you
would be mindful to follow them in addition to those of the local
Finally, INSURE THAT EVERYONE IS AWARE OF WHERE THE MONEY COMES
FROM AND WHERE IT GOES. Only two things "kills" a unit faster than
parents being asked to give money to the unit and not knowing where
the money goes or even why the money is needed. An annual "parents
meeting", complete with "an annual accounting statement" should be
a part of the rechartering process of each unit. It keeps the
parents involved, shows them that you're concerned about financial
matters as it relates to the unit AND to its families, and it backs
up the Scout Law points of Thrifty and Trustworthy.
You won't find any of these things in a BSA or GSUSA publication,
gang...these are based *only* on my experiences in either having to
administer monies as a unit committee chair, as a unit leader, or
as a commissioner having to "bail units out" and to keep them from
"going under again." There's other great suggestions, and I invite
those with additional ideas to PLEASE POST THEM HERE for the
benefit of others that are going to be eventually asking
"Do we REALLY want to have an unit account??"
Hope this all helps out!
(c) 1999 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle Burnsville, MN 55306-7130 (612) 435-3068
privately at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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