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Churchill Plan, Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees

Using qualtrics to accept input to the Understanding the Churchill Plan and What It Means for Scouting does not improve communication with stakeholders, one of the key areas to be addressed in the plan. Upon submitting a comment, no feedback is provided in nearly real time and no means to discuss the merits of the proposed changes to optimize the BSA for success. Further, no rational for the 26 Proposed RECOMMENDATIONS Being Considered is provided.

**This topic relates to one of the Proposed RECOMMENDATIONS Being Considered namely - “Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees.”

The implications of this recommendation are but not limited to:

  • Payments would be to the council and NOT to BSA National
  • BSA National would not realize income until the council paid them
  • All fees whether originating from the council or BSA National would be consolidated into one payment to the council
  • At the councils discretion, the fees may be itemized or consolidated into a lump sum thus hiding the amount paid to BSA National.
  • Given the difference between “Fee Only” and “Fee-Based” I don’t understand why there is a distinction as I can’t see how the council could be incentivized and influenced to recommend the commissioned based product except the sale of the Boys Life subscription? But maybe this would allow the council to add a fee for insurance. This might shield BSA National from liability from child abuse litigation cases.
  • This would permit councils to support monthly auto payments from credit/debit cards with all the security risks if not done properly.
  • Add an optional line item for donations to the council/district/pack/troop/crew/post similar to the donation to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund on the IRS form 1040.

This topic bears on the other recommendations that follow:

  • Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance.
  • Streamline the unit rechartering process.

Users should like a post if he/she believe that the recommendation will optimize the BSA for success. This then will provide a metric to be used in implementing changes to the membership fees. The like count is a vote for the recommendation . The more likes indicates the importance of the recommendation .

Target your posts accordingly.

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I really admire your optimism thinking that popular proposals will lead to policy in that direction. But to facilitate idea generation, I’ll provide my observation from the sample of 1 crew. We did something of the sort, because our crew would host events and invite friends (mainly so we could get bulk discounts, but also as a recruiting tool). We started adding an up-charge for non-members. This covered shared cost of rechartering (at the time, this was a $40 unit fee). The result was fewer guests at events. On the other hand, the guests who did come were much more interested in registering for the year.

Thinking from the venturing perspective, the concept would be useful at a unit level. One would have to give an incentive for the unit to manage this (e.g., waive the recharter fee if, say, 10 new participants had monthly subscriptions). But, there needs to be some incentive for the scout. For example, pay $10 a month, but half of that could go to discounting next years’ registration. So, say a scout participated for six months … by the time it comes to recharter for a year, he/she could be credited a $30 discount. If a 1-year registration costs $100, there would be a $70 discount to the subscriber.
However, you would also have to incentivise long term membership somehow. E.g. 10% off of base fee for each full year of service.

It get’s quite complicated quickly. And the levels of accountability would require more professionals and volunteers.

Updates on nationals’ plans regarding moving forward with Churchill recommendations is here:

Looks like some stuff was approved, some was rejected, some was held for further discussion.

Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees has been paused!


All councils should be required to post their yearly financial and membership statistics online.

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The posting would be a straightforward proposition that could have the data produced on national’s servers in plain old ASCII and council could include a link in their “about us” page.

Frankly, BSA’s annual report should be in plain old ascii.

The accountability would be more challenging. Each council would need volunteers to audit the charter. It’s time consuming to call every unit leader to verify that they know that their unit is still on the books.

Why would “Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees” be recommended by the six teams of volunteers and professionals in the first place?

Did they believe that BSA national was being to dictatorial?
Did they seek to retain the interest on the money collected before it is paid to BSA national?

Any guesses as to why BSA national decided to pause this recommendation?

That’s one take. On the other hand, the Annual Report is as much a marketing tool as a report to the stakeholders, and a picture is worth a thousand words. Tossing out a plain-text ascii only file does not scream “We’re doing good things and moving in the right direction”. Some might take it as removing any “spin” from the numbers while others might take it as “They can’t even bother to slap a couple of pictures of Scouts in a report”…

And how has that “marketing tool” increased net membership over the past couple of decades?
Instead of a picture, how about the thousand words? Maybe six or more short essays from scouts, venturers, parents, donors? Perhaps referencing different line items in the budget or membership statistics? Maybe a list of exceptional activities that Packs, Troops, and Crews implemented?
BSA could add so much more value to an annual report by stripping it of high-cost low-content material like professional artwork on acres of white space. Councils could follow their lead. It might just wind up inspiring donors to get behind our hard work.


I believe that the annual report is just a chore mandated by Congress and reporting bad news is just embarrassing so little attention is given to it…

Does every Title 36 organization sends a report to congress with as much fanfare as does BSA? I don’t know. But I do know that the “don’t want no bad news” attitude is pervasive.

I agree with @ChristopherDaly
With this years registration cost increases, it is very hard for cash strapped families to cough up the money, especially at Christmas time when the child’s and the families happiness is paramount!

You mention liability for BSA National, Currently, the councils have been kept out of the abuse lawsuit, but the victims lawyers have been trying to go after the councils as well. So far, the BSA national office has been able to shield the councils and keep them out of the legal entanglements. I’m no lawyer, but if the councils are going serve as the funding source for BSA national, then I would tend to think that would make them directly liable as well. I am already frustrated with the fact that more and more money has to keep coming out of my pocket to pay for the BSA being a haven for sexual predators for decades. So I really want to avoid any situation in which this sexual abuse mess the BSA created becomes a direct threat to our council, district and units. That being stated, any way we can have our fees go directly to the cost of providing the scouting program at the district and council level, instead of going to National, I am in favor of. If National needs more money for insurance or to help cover the cost of the lawsuits, then they need to quit dipping into the wallets of scouters who had nothing to do with the abuse issues, and instead sell some property or themselves start selling popcorn to raise the money they need.

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