Where does the money go from Friends of Scouting?

As we wrap up another drive for Friends of Scouting, I again have mixed feelings about the value of this fundraiser.  I realize it’s supposed to be good for our programs in many ways, but wish I could see more clearly where MY scouts benefit directly from this fundraiser.

It might help to look at some data, so I will refer to a pie chart from the 2010 FOS brochure that tried to illustrate the distribution of funds (pictured right).  For me, I look at this chart and have lots of questions…questions that a Scoutmaster up to his eyeballs in the program shouldn’t have.  So I’m not one bit surprised why parents aren’t more supportive of this fundraiser.

As I look at the 64% of the funds invested in “Programs, Activities, Training and Service”, let me present some thoughts that will likely spark some discussion.  I also don’t want to make this a 10 page post, so I will cover what I think are the easiest and the hardest ones from this list and follow up with another post later.

Easiest: “Liability insurance to protect leaders and chartered organizations.”  I could only imagine how much this must cost given all that happens in a year due to untrained stupidity or honest accident.  I say this is easy to understand because it seems people are so sue-happy these days.

Hardest: “Maintenance and improvements for 14 summer camps at 5 properties”.  This is a big one for me, probably my biggest issue of all.  I’ve been to several facilities in our council and didn’t see where Friends of Scouting money was used for upkeep and improvement.  In fact, our most premier facilities seem to be the most in need of help! Referring again to the pie chart above, if summer camp maintenance and improvement costs are included in the “Programs, Activities, Training & Service” budget, what is the 26% in “Council Camps” for?  Honestly, from an outsider’s perspective, it looks to me like the only way scout camps can overcome a run-down reputation is through generous donations from outside organizations.

I know this last comment is enough to cause a nice lengthy discussion. When I brought it up at a zone meeting last year, I think it was the District Exec who got all heated about my probing.  You’d think he’d want to explain in great detail so I could help others understand. Instead, he got very defensive and created a tension in the room that certainly didn’t help us feel energetic about getting behind FOS once again.

I wonder if similar non-profit donors, like tith payers, would begin to question their contribution if meeting houses and other places of worship began to look dishevled.

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12 Responses to Where does the money go from Friends of Scouting?

  1. Craig says:

    I’m a scout master and I feel the same way. We just had our friends of scouting program kickoff and I asked some hard questions and rather ruined their spirit. I brought up those same questions and it brought in a lot of tension into the room. I felt bad because that squashed their “Lets get everyone excited to make us money” kick off.

    I take my boys on 12 campouts a year out of our own budget, then they pay over a hundred dollars for each scout for scout camp. Then not to mention all the money they spend on uniforms, and other items. They told me that the majority of the money goes to camps and activities. So, I asked what that entails and they couldn’t give me a good answer. Finally someone spoke up and said that a lot of it goes toward the scout camps and keeping them running. Sure, that is great and I can buy into some of that, but not completely sold. I think that percentage has some accounting mischief in it if you ask me. I plan on reviewing the where the money actually goes.

    The news broke about the salaries of the top Scouting executives years ago.

    Paul Moore made $228,000 annually before leaving to head a council in Los Angeles where he is paid $383,500.

    Robert J. Mazzuca, the national chief Scout executive, had a 2009 compensation of $1.21 million

    If the money is really going to the scout camps they its not being used very effectively. They are run down and in poor shape.

    As for me I’m not donating. I give enough in giving up a weeks vacation each year to take the scouts to camp, one weekend a month for an overnight trip, one night a week for activities, and not to mention what I spend out of my own pocket for gas, food, and other items that are needed to make it all work.

    I will however solicit donations because I’ve been asked too, but I will not go above and beyond that in this quest to pay their top heavy salaries.

  2. Steve says:

    BSA has a special rule, donations cannot be solicited from businesses, and when I asked about this, it is because the businesses are solicited by FOS. Its tough to have a fund raiser and not be allowed to go where the money is. Also, why cant the businesses decide if they want to support locally or to FOS. FOS does not send my kids to camp.

    • Sarah says:

      The first Pack I was involved in had FOS come to our Blue & Gold banquet, where the representative was asking the families to contribute. After all that families put into scouting financially, why would they ask for more money? And why ask the families if FOS is supposed to ask businesses? Scouting has become so expensive, that as a Cubmaster, I have families drop out because of the cost. I don’t even ask for den fees or push for pack fees, because it’s just too much for people to keep paying into.

      • Julus says:

        Cub Scouting expensive? I would give a look at your program. $24 a year membership is cheap compared to sports fees. Activity fees can be made cheap. Day camp isn’t that expensive and by all means optional in the end. Even Uniforms aren’t required! Really! You will never find in BSA official documentation that the uniform is required. A FOS donation doesn’t have to be huge. If every Scout Family gave $40 we would easily make our Council’s goals. They ask for larger donations though because we know that not everyone will give. I give, I volunteer for Pack, Troop, District, and Council because I KNOW I wouldn’t be the person I am without being a Scout as a kid!

    • Scoutmaster says:

      Understandably, every area is different. How one council manages these funds may be very different from how another manages theirs. I think it’d be an interesting exerecise to visit scout camps across the country to see how each applies funds to their respective programs and facilities. I often wonder how my council measures up with the rest.

      • Russ says:

        The pie chart at the beginning of this article doesn’t really explain where the money goes. If I’m not mistaken from the URL from the scouting site, it states the 79.9% goes to unit service, which I believe is for salaries within the Boy Scouts program.

        Since the District Executive in Boy Scouts is a paid position, it is most likely paid from the Friends of Scout donations. That may be why the District Exec didn’t want to address the issue of where the money goes.

        According to this website http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Boy-Scouts-of-America-District-Executive-Salaries-E7807_D_KO22,40.htm, the average Salary for District Executives is $38,901 which includes bonuses. Granted this position is a lot of work.

        • Scoutmaster says:

          Is $38,000/yr a lot to pay a District Exec? What are the day-to-day responsbilities of a paid profssional scouter in that position?

          • Russ says:

            That’s a good question. I don’t know what the responsibilities are for the District Exec. I don’t even know how you get to be a District Exec.

            I know that they do a lot of training and on how to have a successful scouting experience, or how to create a successful scouting experience for the Boy Scouts.

            I think that without the paid positions, the scouting program would not be as successful as it is today. I also feel that without the non-paid service which goes into Scouting, there would be no need for the paid positions.

          • Scoutmaster says:

            Though you might be interested in my latest post

  3. Shad Vick says:

    I’d like to know if you’ve found out more information as to where and if the money actually goes to where the pie chart indicates. I’ve been a huge FOS supporter for many years helping units “complete” the FOS drive – but in reality – I’m very confused about where our funds go. For example – we register every YM whether they are active in scouts or not. We pay for Scout Camp separate from FOS. We pay District Activity Fees. In addition – there are numerous donations from outside sources to Scouts. I’m bringing all of this up at a time when badges and scout clothing have become very exorbitant costs and quality/customer service (at least in our council) has dropped dramatically.

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