BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

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Council Support Fee

Has anyone else’s council been so fiscally irresponsible that they have shifted the financial burden to the scouts and their families? Just trying to get an idea of how many other Troops have to pay additional money, on top of annual BSA membership dues, to their councils.

I have heard of some councils adding a fee per member and dropping their Friends of Scouting campaign. Has you Council done this?

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Never heard of a council fee. Would have a problem with a council that tried to charge one if it was mine.

Are we talking about a couple of bucks a year per scout, or what? They already get around a third of popcorn sales. I support my council a number of ways, but a council fee seems like a huge ask.

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They assessed every Troop and Pack in our council $125 per scout, using the number of scouts based on 2018 chartering numbers. So no matter if you lose a few next year you’ll still be responsible for paying for whatever you had the year before. Of course, if you gain more scouts the payment due increases. We are a very small, rural community that has struggled with declining membership for years. Our Cub Scout Pack folded up last year due to lack of leadership. Thankfully we had some younger parents step up and revive it. They went from having 2 cubs to 31 in a couple of months and have kept them coming back. I know for a fact that their Pack account started with less than $1000, but now from here on out they’ll be on the hook for $4,250 every year. It irritates me because there was no warning, no input from Troop leaders, they just did it. It is as if the Great RIvers Council is trying to purposefully kill small town scouting here in mid-Missouri.

Does your council have a Friends of Scouting campaign? In my council, for 2019, the cost per Scout to support the program is $252. We are fortunate that FOS is able to bring in enough money to cover most, if not all, of that cost. If a council is not able to raise the full amount to support the program, they have 2 choices, cut programs or assess a per Scout fee.

I would not presume they are trying to kill small town Scouting. They are probably trying to cover the costs to provide all the services they have traditionally provided.

Longhouse Council in NY charges a fee and they also have FOS. I don’t think its right, but what optkon do we have?

My council starts charging and annual $12 person fee next year. That’s at least manageable.

Adding to what Ed said, the council has a third option: fold/merge with a bigger council.

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All councils are registered as 501(c)(3) organizations. You can find the IRS I-990 for any 501(c)(3) organization. The I-990 contains information about assets, income, fundraising, highly compensated employees, etc. This won’t give you the full picture of the council’s financial health, but it is a good place to start. After reviewing the I-990, if you still have questions about the council’s finances, you can contact the council and ask for more details. Any organization soliciting donations will be more than happy to answer questions and provide details on their finances.

If we had to pay an additional $125 per scout to be in a council, we’d either register with another council or register as lone scouts. Forget that noise, that’s ridiculous.

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I suspect your council is dying and/or dead already but refusing to believe it. I don’t know if my parents could handle it, and not inclined to find out. But unless they allow the unit to go ask for sponsorship, such a fee would be the end of my association with BSA. In my particular case, the troop would move to another organization. I know I wouldn’t be a part of that.

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Our council started charging a $50 per scout fee a few years ago. They justified it by saying that Friends of Scouting donations were way down. They suggested all units do additional fundraising or pass the fee along to families. Most of our Pack families can’t afford more fees and our Pack typically sells over $20,000 in popcorn, which Council gets over 30% of. Our Pack leaders met with Council and negotiated. We argued that it was not fair for us to be charged the same as units who do not sell popcorn. They ended up lowering our fee, but still did charge us something. Some units refused to pay, others paid the full amount. After 3 years, the Council ended up merging with a larger Council for financial reasons. Luckily, Our new Council does not have such a fee.

Longs Peak Council [NE of Denver] has revised the way they do unit fundraising goals. Instead of three different, independent goals for Popcorn sale, FOS, and Camp Card sales, there is one, combined goal for each unit. Based on the number of scouts registered to a unit on June 30, modified by negotiation in July, the goal is set at $200/scout. Seems it costs the council about $600/scout for their overall budget and they raise about $400/scout through fees and their own fundraisers, leaving $200/scout to come from unit fundraising.

Currently, there are a few carrots for meeting the goal, but no stick for not.

Our council did camp cards this year, it was a disaster (at least for us). Never doing that one again.

Okay, now I’m curious; what happened?

The largest school district in the area had the same contracts with the same companies and they went first, so essentially after they sold the nearly identical card-program to all the people in the area, we came trotting in. I think we maybe sold 10% of our expected allotment.

Ouch!

Our competition for both popcorn and camp cards is the neighboring council to the south, so we coordinate to be selling at the same time.

Hey, if Camp Cards work for you keep doing it! Don’t create your expectations off my history.

Councils that have had a large part of their budget satisfied by FOS donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in the past are now going to experience significant shortfalls as the LDS Church steps away from Scouting as its youth program for boys. The need to replace that income is not fiscal irresponsibility – it is the result of an income reduction beyond the control of the council. Meanwhile, their expenses (facilities maintenance, salaries of staff, etc) have not substantially changed. There may also be other factors that have caused increased expenses such as minimum wage changes, increased rents or utilities, or aging facilities that need more maintenance.

Their only recourses are to either to find other ways to supplement their income or to reduce and/or eliminate program and facility availability, thus many councils are creating or increasing council registration fees. Each council budgets in a way that works best for them.

If you re concerned, consider joining the council board of directors.

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Our council charges $20 per scout not scouter they do give us free tent camping at council camps and free council training. It has caused a problem as our town is split by council and the another council that does not charge a fee so the packs merged in town and they rechartered as a new merged pack in the council that does not charge. The charging was mainly due to the fact that the FOS has had poorer results we are in the Northeast so there are probably costs of operation and overhead are hard to manage.

When I was a kid (30 years ago) our council exec and committee chair were both embezzling money from the council leaving the council chronically bankrupt. Eventually the exec drew 20 years in prison and the committee chair drew 10 years. The possibility of nefarious behavior is not beyond the realm of reality.