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BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

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New fees for 2020 - Membership Fees

So, I still haven’t gotten any information back on accessing the GFLF, but I got a reiteration from a contact at nationals that units aren’t allowed to solicit funds, but are allowed to accept if offered. So, the issue appears to be threading the needle on the difference between unit leaders and scouts soliciting donations versus community members becoming aware of the need for assistance and offering support without solicitation by youth or scouters. Looking at it from that perspective, the recent AP and other news articles highlighting the added costs may work in favor of bringing this issue to the attention of community members and organizations who would be willing to offer emergency funding support without unit leaders or scouts violating the prohibition on soliciting those funds.

Even community awareness leading to more unsolicited donations likely will not solve the longer-term issue of unit viability, given the new cost model and the wide economic diversity of the country. That may mean more fundraising, no matter how much I loathe the idea of hawking wares that I personally have issues getting behind (e.g. $25 popcorn). As you pointed out earlier, @JessieNewton, there’s also only so much water in that well. I think Scouting is going to need to find ways to grow prosperity all around in order to continue to flourish.

Gosh, I wish just once something would have an easy solution…

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Units very commonly ignore fundraising rules. Solicitation is one of them. That’s far from the worst thing done.

I’ve seen CORs advertising “parents clubs” fireworks stands. Don’t tell me that a group of parents all related to a single troop giving all the money to a single troop didn’t have a troop fireworks fundraiser. Selling fireworks is on the list of things explicitly not allowed.

Popcorn is all but tapped out. Showing a similar problem, earlier in 2019 I saw a group of girl scouts selling parking at an event and everyone got a free box of cookies. One girl scout troop sold so often at once local grocery store that the store stopped allowing third party fundraising at it all together. (the store director told me why)

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Scouts under 16 are not allowed to use powered mowers, so I would not recommend that one.

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I would suggest this is the perfect audience. When we are looking at 300% increases between the council and national there is definitely mismanagement. Did our costs truly go up 300% last year? How could they not know the need would be so great until just over a month before recharter? What are the scouts gaining from this massive increase? We all understand inflation and new services requiring more money, but do it gradually and don’t tell us there will be some increase then spring this on us. The surprise is the real concern especially in this organization and what we are trying to teach our children. The people here in this forum are the ones who can push for the change in leadership and restructure that is needed. No one in this organization should make over 200k a year let alone 500 or 600k. If they need to be more efficient let’s see them take some salary cuts instead of laying this all on the scouts. Let’s see them manage what they have better. Have better foresight to anticipate cost increases. Be better at mitigating insurance increases I am new to scouting only my second year, and I assure you I am not the only one questioning if I will stay. I am very active in my pack and the secrecy and ambush of the rates both at national and locally feel like a slap in the face.

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How do you “mitigate” a legislative change when states move the statute of limitations to infinity? That would be great, sure would help lower cost of insurance! Any ideas?

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The legislative change did triple our total costs. I would love to see those numbers. However a reduction to the 9M a year we pay to the executive team in TX would be a step in the right direction. Shoot having someone with a 250k salary at HOAC is ridiculous. Instead of pushing it on the scouts. Let’s evaluate where we spend our money starting at inflated salaries.

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I always love when people gripe about others’ salaries. How would you feel if someone barged into your office and said “I think @MichaelGeurin is overpaid! We shouldn’t be paying that much for him! Let’s start out by cutting his pay, then everything will be fine.”

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First off yes, the first place for responsible operational cutbacks to ensure the sustainability of a program should come from the top. You have to be lean and efficient. Thrift is one of our core values and I would argue these inflated salaries go against our core values. This isn’t about one person, this is about responsible management. The positions should not pay that much period. This is a non profit for children, and we should be better stewards of our resources. That includes inflated salaries. In our current position however I would also argue some of the leadership is also underperforming. What improvements to the scouts experience are justifying the 300% increase?

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I am glad that we pay our professionals in alignment with market salaries. I’m not interested in getting a cut-rate staffer for running youth leadership. I further don’t buy the argument that the salaries are “inflated” without any data to support that other than “someone” at one council gets 250K per year. If that’s the council exec at Heart of America (and I’m not saying that it is) that’s one of the larger councils in scouting with a significant service area and that fits right in line with market rates for non-profits of that size. If anything, it’s a little low. But without further data it’s really difficult to make any final determination one way or another.

What improvements? Let’s see:

  • we’ve had significant improvements in program and facilities at council camps (at least in our council);
  • we have an expanded program including STEM activities and the Lion program;
  • we have stricter youth protection guidelines and background checks;
  • we have noticeable improvements in roundtable training over the past few years;
  • we have developed outreach programs into the specials needs community;
  • we have the new preview adventures for Cub Scouts;
  • we have the new arrangement with the Coast Guard Auxiliary;
  • we have continued growth in scholarship funding for college;
  • we have new and modernized merit badges such as Exploration and Programming and Game Design;
  • we have increased career-oriented training in project management for Venturers and practical deck seamanship for Sea Scouts;
  • we work with outside organizations to tackle issues such as teen suicide, date rape, and vaping;

That’s off the top of my head. Scouting is still a great value.

I have no objection to do more and to ask for more because we can provide more.

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Well, some of us see the value of scouting while others may never. I can personally say that what it has done for my daughter as a venturing scout before she moved on to college and my son who has progressed from a shy tiger cub to a life scout and SPL is beyond any fees or salary. If the focus you have is only balance sheets, salaries and fees, then perhaps this is not the best venue for you.

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My pack isn’t renewing Boys Life, that will make the increase only $15 instead of $27 per Scout. If all the units out there drop subscriptions as a cost saving measure, that will also speak volumes to National.

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They’re talking about the heads of a 501c3 that’s hemorrhaging membership, staring down the barrels of countless lawsuits, and teetering in the verge of insolvency. At some some point the buck stops with them. Don’t pretend they’re immune from the repercussions of their own managment errors.

If the solution they using is to raise the fee against children and volunteers, while protecting their own salaries, they don’t deserve the loyalty you’re giving them, and won’t get mine.

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I think practically nobody in my unit subscribes to begin with. Based on the dues I’ve handled it’s not an expense our kids have been able to afford.

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Matthew, what’s the “management error” ?? What’s the specific mistake? Can you point to it? Can you name it? Is it correctable? Could they have had influence over the outcome? What should they have done differently? How should they have know that?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. If anyone does, please share them. But please also do not assume any answer that is not backed in data.

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You have your pack pay Boys’ Life subscriptions? We’ve always had that be a choice for the family. I don’t “object” necessarily but would it hurt to let the parents choose?

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I think the biggest problem is a lack of communication and planning. The cost of losses and liability insurance has absolutely skyrocketed, but there is another area of interest on the annual reports for each of the last three years. Our print publications are running higher than cost 2016-2018 the cost to produce boys life has exceeded the sales by 8.7 million dollars. Maybe they need to end boys life or make it an epublication only.
Management “other expenses” (not salaries) increased 10 million from 2017 to 2018, field services costs have decreased by about 30 million 2017 -2018 and insurance costs and losses have increased by 48 million 2017 to 2018 net increase in expenses of 23 million. Revenues also dropped 80 million in the same period. Our net expenses exceeded our net revenues by 103 million last year. If that net loss is distributed among 2.5 million scouts that nets $41.00 increase annually.
This annual report was published only 5 months ago previous annual reports were published in the first quarter rather than the end of the second quarter.
If we’re paying for world class leadership than they need to be on time and proactive in planning and communication.
We need agility in our leadership. Marginal costs should be decreasing with the membership decrease, but I think what we’re all learning is that the costs are fairly fixed. Someone said doubling membership would substantially improve financial health. Executive team needs to look at the costs of all areas and make some thrifty decisions to regain our trust.
Note 2017 they had higher net revenues than expenses (3 million).
Note the unrestricted assets = 685 million. Restricted assists =231 million.
They don’t want to file bankruptcy because the unrestricted assets will be liquidated, but liquidating some voluntarily may be the best way to regain our trust as parents so our children aren’t bearing the entire burden of decisions made 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. In 2009 BSA had one of the top 5 highest salaries for nonprofit chief executives.
I’m okay with paying more, but honestly I think that they need a comprehensive communication about scholarship opportunities for scouts, packs or troops where 27 a year is a significant burden and many councils are instituting higher council dues too so for some this could be $87 a year.

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I don’t know the answers either … but I’m not making million dollar salary, so it’s literally not my job to know the answer. Do you know who’s job it is? Oh right, the exact people who’s shoulders I’m putting the responsibility on, but some of this group are totally willing to let off the hook.

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Matthew, if you don’t know who or what is to blame, why do you put the blame on a group of people? by your own admission you don’t know, but at the same time assign it as though you do. It doesn’t make sense.

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Asked and answered, but I’ll say it again, because I have to repeat the same sentiment over and over every time you disagree with me.

I blame them for the problems because they’re literally the people hired and paid a lot of money to address and manage those problems. Who else would anyone possibly blame? Where else could the blame possibly like than with the people managing the organization that’s slipping over the ledge. This isn’t rocket science. These people were hired to keep exactly what’s happening from happening. However this had happened, they failed to prevent it. They’re failing at the jobs they were hired to do.

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You have not answered my question, you have merely dodged it. What mistake was made? What should have been done differently? What are the problems that should have been addressed and managed better and how would they have done that?

You blame them for the problems but admit you have no idea what they could have done differently.

Where else could the “blame” possibly be? Here’s some suggestions:

  • The legislatures that extended the statute of limitations back to infinity which is far outside the range of the insurance structure that was put in place
  • The cost of substantial increases in insurance coverage rates
  • To continue to support and improve YPT and ongoing criminal background checks
  • The general increased cost of operations over time
  • The massive call for technology upgrades and overall system improvements

Since most of those line items are actually what they have told us are behind the membership increase, I see no reason to not take them at their word. If you’re looking for someone further to blame, how about the people who put on a scout uniform and did illegal, immoral, and harmful things in the past?

Yes, we need to make changes. It stinks that it costs more. It stinks that a lot of people were not prepared for this change (although we found out months ago it was coming). Timing is terrible. All agreed, even by those making the decision.

Slinging blame does not work toward a solution of any type. I would love to know what could have been done differently.

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