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.