Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Fundraising and the James E. West Recognition
Fundraising and the James E. West Recognition
Jay L. Lenrow
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 08:20:07 -0500
At the risk of wading into a difficult area, I will make a stab at
trying to lend another perspective to the questions (and complaints)
about fundraising, BSA policy, and the Endowment Recognition Program.
Firstly, my disclosure statement. I am currently a Scoutmaster, former
District Chairman, and the FOS Chairman for the Baltimore Area Council.
I have also served as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Den/Webelos Den
Leader. In my other life I am an attorney.
Fundraising is always a tricky question when it comes to BSA because the
system is split among units, districts, and councils. One of the chief
complaints I have seen as the Council FOS Chairman is from businesses
who do not want to be solicited every few months by the same
organization. From our perspective, we may be able to differentiate
among the divisions I cited above but from a business owner's
perspective, it is all the Boy Scouts.
If for example you live in a small town that has only one unit, you can
easily ask the local car dealer or grocery store owner for financial
assistance. The issue becomes more complicated in a metropolitan area
like Baltimore where there may be 2 dozen units in an area served by the
local car dealer or that the "local" supermarket is a chain that is
found throughout the region. I have taken great pains to be sensitive
to the needs of the business community as well as Scouting in our
fundraising. The lists used to solicit businesses for the District
Leadership breakfast must be coordinated with the list for the Council's
Distinguished Citizen Award DInner, etc. It is a real balancing act.
If the local car dealer was solicited once a month by units, the
District, or the Council, pretty soon they would say a pox on all your
houses. Try to keep this in perspective.
As to the James E. West, it is part of an overall program of increasing
the Council endowment to allow the Council to function even in the lean
years. By convention, earnings from the endowment are reinvested into
the endowment and only 5% is used for Council programs. That means that
the $1,000 James E. West provides $50 to the Council but that amount is
I have worked hard to sell the West as a recognition and many other
Councils have done the same. To dismiss it as merely buying an award is
misguided. Almost all of the West's here in Baltimore are in
recognition of dedicated Scouters or, as in many cases, in memory of
persons we desire to honor. Why resent someone who chooses to donate
money to Scouting to ensure its future? You should celebrate it
instead. I have friends who donate large sums of money to charity each
year -- more than my annual income. I don't resent them for doing that,
I applaud them for their generosity and so should we all.
That's my take.
Jay L. Lenrow, Eagle Class of 1966
Scoutmaster, Troop 18, Owings Mills, Maryland
Council FOS Chairman, Baltimore Area Council
Vice Chairman for Administration, Arrowhead District
(Proud son of a Life Scout and father of a Life Scout)