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  • Will there be a new policy on unit dues?

    I've been reading the announcement of the fee hike posted at Scouting Magazine. When I read between the lines, it sounds to me like National is trying to abolish unit dues.

    Reading the announcement, to the untrained ear, it sounds like that $24 is all a Scout needs for a year of great programming, especially when you compare this to what "Participants of the 4-H Program in College Station, Texas, pay $25 a year, not including fees for individual activities".

    The problem is, I'm hearing this from my local Council as well.

    At a Saturday morning [del]DE morale crushing event[/del] fall recruiting seminar I was invited to last month, my Council's Field Director announced that the Council is starting a new marketing program. We've got trouble getting access to schools in our area, so Council will be doing some direct mail marketing to invite new Scouts. On the surface, this sounds great.

    The catch: That marketing will tell Scouts for $6.50, they can register for Scouting. This is the $15 National Fee pro-rated for the 5 months until recharter.

    If a unit wants to charge dues -- should they toe the official Council policy -- we are free to collect these after the Scout's registration is processed. Same with the fees for the coming recharter year. Oh, and the insurance fee levied by the council on top of the National registration fee.

    Oh, and at our Fall Roundup, we're supposed to also distribute an Adult Application with every Youth Application, boosting the number of registered leaders. The marketing materials don't discuss how they will need to pay these fees as well.

    I'm a member of the 10th largest Council in the US, and our Field Director came from the 4th largest. Something tells me this is a trial balloon from National. Anyone else out there seeing something similar?
    Last edited by TSS_Chris; 09-03-2013, 08:00 PM.

  • #2
    Not sure what kind of smoke-and-mirrors my council will take. Generally speaking our council presidents have not countenanced attempts to ad any more BS (other than boy scouts) to the BSA. What should you do? Well, a scout is trustworthy. I would not countenance any advertising on my unit's behalf that did not disclose that additional costs of participation will include unit fees which may partly be offset by fundraising or scholarships. For example, our crew's current registration fee is $1.50/ month remaining in the year. That ensures everyone will have contributed to the unit charter fee. Then we make it clear that this puts members on our mailing list. (I.e. - your mebership gives you "first to know" privelage.) Event fees are on a pay-per-participation basis.


    • #3
      In the troop I've served the last 13 years we have never taken up "dues." The Scouts and their parents have worked hard at fund-raising over the years to build up a pretty good war-chest, and receive generous donations from troop alumni as well. If you're on the charter roster for 2013, your fee will be paid by the troop if you haven't paid yet and you will be on the charter for 2014. There are, of course, obvious exceptions like those who are known to have transferred or haven't darkened the door of the building at all for 12 months. Shortly after Jan. 1, if you haven't paid, the CC and Secretary will track you down like bloodhounds and you will promptly. and in sincere repentance write the check on the spot. . They will also do this with OA dues as well. Everything else is a pay as you go.
      Each unit pretty much will have their own approach to this. I don't think the Council, in my town at least, will interject as long as they get the paperwork and full payment when it is due.


      • #4
        The idea that council or higher can ban dues from units is preposterous. Each unit is owned by its CO; and they set the rules regarding how the unit is funded. If there are actually any local councils that think they can do it, they are simply mistaken, and have no right to do so. If any executive here tried that they would be out on their ear..


        • #5
          $24 is the registration fee to be a member within the BSA. The Dues a Scout Unit charges can include that $24, but the rest is what is charged to provide that program to your particular unit. Whether the CO provides a meeting space or the Scout Unit pays for it, there are some fixed costs to run the unit. The Pack I just left due to Crossing over had to pay $800 a year for the gym at the school because the CO does not pay nor has a space.

          The only thing that matters, in general, to the Council is that they collect $24 per person (outside of the Unit Reserve Scout 91U $10) plus $40 for Re-Charter Fee at Re-Charter time. If you don't you and your Scout Unit are not re-chartered.


          • #6
            I don't understand why people are having so much trouble understanding Bryan's analogy/comparison. It's just that, a comparison. It's simple.

            National does not and cannot control what individual troops charge for dues, or how much their monthly program costs, and National cannot know whether additional costs are covered by fundraising or by dues etc. So all Bryan can do is compare National's fee to other organizations' fees, and that's what he did.

            Charging unit dues separately from registration fees is not a council policy, it is spelled out that way on BSA's recruiting literature; it's a national guideline.
            Last edited by Scouter99; 09-04-2013, 07:04 AM.


            • TSS_Chris
              TSS_Chris commented
              Editing a comment
              [quote]Charging unit dues separately from registration fees is not a council policy, it is spelled out that way on BSA's recruiting literature[\quote]

              @Scouter99: Where is this spelled out? I've got a stack of literature in front of me, and I've been to lots of my Council's training events, and I've never heard this before.

              Byran's analogies are disingenuous. All of the examples he gives are fees for an educational program. The BSA's fees only cover an individual's registration. All educational materials, programming and awards are assessed on top of these fees. Plus, there may be additional mandatory fees assessed on top of this by the local Council for the unit as a whole or the membership. He points this out for 4-H, but doesn't do the same for the BSA.

              What the BSA is doing is the same as if Little League international started publicizing that you can join Little League for just $18 to cover the national dues and insurance fees, then neglect to tell you that there may be additional costs by the local league.

          • #7
            So exactly what were you smoking or drinking last night TS?

            Units have a cost of doing business.....They can't prevent us from collecting money to run our units...... Now granted there are units with $10 of thousands of dollars in the bank......But I suspect they are few and far between.


            • TSS_Chris
              TSS_Chris commented
              Editing a comment
              Nothing. I was as sober as you are after a Pack meeting.

              I wouldn't have thought anything of this announcement if it didn't reinforce what I've heard from my local Council. I had a 30 minute phone conversation with our COO about how he thinks it is a great idea to tell everyone that $6.50 is all you need to join Scouting. He is adamant that this is the way it must happen. He's upwardly mobile in the BSA management, so I'm guessing he's toeing the corporate line.

              So far, I haven't seen the mailer yet. When I do, I'll post a copy of it here.

              We charge dues. We also charge program fees. I know other Packs can cover all their expenses with fundraising. Our Pack hasn't been able to, and the parents don't want to. We're upfront about the costs, and we find ways to subsidize members who can't afford ours (or National's) dues.

              All I want is to be sure the BSA is disclosing that some units may have additional fees on top of the BSA registration.

          • #8
            Classic "bait and switch" maneuver. Get them in the door with a low-ball offer. Then if they drop out or fail to re-register after getting the true picture, it the Volunteer's fault. This helps the Pros "hit their numbers" for the current year. Next year, we do it again.


            • #9
              Unit dues... Can't see that happening. It would kill many units. Our dues are only a 1/3 of our annual $140 budget per scout.

              I don't think this is a BSA cost increase. Bull. It's a corporate FOS issue. Lost $700,000 per year from Intel. Lost $150,000 from UPS. Lost $300,000 from Verizon. And that list can go on and on and on. BSA received huge amounts of donations in the past. Now, those donations are drying up because of BSA's political position. So, scouts need to make up the difference. That's the reason for the huge increases in membership dues.

              One interesting fact. At $25 a year, we will be more aggressive to drop scouts off our charter if they did not pay. We've covered dues for "iffy" scouts for years.

              PLUS ... the real cost is $37. We also cover the Boy's Life magazine for every scout. So, we need to route $37 per scout to BSA every year. WOW.


              • #10
                I have asked my own DE not to use the "It only costs X to be a Scout for a Year" Where that X does not reflect the local unit cost.


                • #11
                  "All I want is to be sure the BSA is disclosing that some units may have additional fees on top of the BSA registration."

                  Well it is clear that your council is not planning on communicating that little piece of info until AFTER they have the completed, and paid, applications in hand. Since your council head is trying to make himself look good for promotion purposes, he is doing all of this so he can toot his own horn on the number/increase of registrations in his council.

                  ​Personally, I would not go along with his agenda. You are there for the boys, not to get him a promotion. I suggest being upfront with your prospective members. Lay out the total cost of being a member of BSA, AND a member of your unit. You might loose some folks, but then you might also loose them, plus piss them off big time, when you drop the rest of the bill on their heads six months down the line.

                  As for the analogies in the article, I found nothing "disingenuous" about any part of it. He clearly states - "What does your $24 buy?", and then goes on to state that it covers program materials and support for the LOCAL COUNCILS.. He also clearly states about his comparisons to other organizations - "it's not always comparing apples to apples". - and - "Note: The costs in bold are just the fee to join and don't include equipment, travel costs, uniforms, etc." Now I may be wrong, but isn't that EXACTLY what the $24 national BSA registration fee is? So, while he might not be comparing apples to apples, he is comparing the initial cost of simply REGISTERING in the different organizations.


                  • King Ding Dong
                    King Ding Dong commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The problem I have with his comparison is it is worthless. It is like the old BMG music clubs where it only cost $1 for 12 albums. Wow sounds great, sign me up. Then they send you a record and a bill for every month for $17.

                    I have come to the point I really don't care how big a unit is, what I care about is if the parents are going to support the unit and participate. I will take a Den of 2-3 scouts with parents that participate over a den of 8 and make me a

                    I am working on a detailed cost estimate to hand out to each parent before I accept the application. What can the DE do about it, fire you ?

                  • TSS_Chris
                    TSS_Chris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    @ScoutNut: I believe you are wrong. The examples he gives are for participation in Programs, not just for registrations. Take a look at Select Soccer or the LAYO. Their fees get you a lot more than just the ability to call yourself a member that the BSA's $24 gets you.

                    4-H is the only one that's close, but these all seem to be part of a state university Ag extension outreach program, and don't seem to be self-supporting programs like the BSA. The Corpus Christi 4-H includes "educational materials" in their fee.

                    According to my budget, our year of programming costs about $180 per Scout (with the rate increase). This includes some giveaways, a handbook, and a Pinewood Derby car, as well as some program activities. We attempt to recoup about 40% of this in dues, with the remainder in fundraising. About $51 of this goes to our Council in registration and insurance fees.

                    If you added in most of the programming and a week of Day Camp, you'd be around $300-500 a year for the program. More if you want to attend resident camp. That is an apples-to-apples comparison.

                • #12
                  ARGH !!!

                  Our council is asking us to pay 2014 prices this December when our units recharter. We have already printed our recruiting materials and already received some checks. Are we supposed to go out and ask for more money? Is the money supposed to mystically appear? Or do we guess who won't continue and drop them and use their money to cover the other person. (Ethical issue)

                  This is going to get ugly quick.

                  ARGH !!!


                  • King Ding Dong
                    King Ding Dong commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Simmer down, International Talk Like a Pirrrrate Day is not until the 19th.

                    Didn't you catch that all December recharrrrters had to pay the $24 ? That's the big issue here. I rrrrreally don't have an issue with the $9 (I do, but for other reasons). The question is do we point fingerrrrs at National, suck it up and sell more popcorn, drrrrop events, pad a couple of events or trrrry and spin it best we can ? My currrrrrent feeling is take it out of FOS this yearrrrr unless I see a betterrrrr idea. I know the Pack will not make a FOS contrrrrribution this yearrrrr.

                    This was a rrrrreal boneheaded move on Brrrrock's parrrrt.
                    Last edited by King Ding Dong; 09-04-2013, 04:22 PM.

                • #13
                  The amount isn't that big but I already contribute plenty and I have many in our pack that are stickers for exact amounts, precision reimbursements, etc. I'm sure we will be fine. But we need to make up the difference.

                  I suspect it will be something silly like the week we go to recharter we will review the roster. If someone has not attended for three months, we will not renew their membership even if they paid dues. 2nd year Webelos? You want us to pay $24 plus $12 (because we've done boy's life in the past) for two months of pack membership. No. They can ask their troop to cover that. Plus, they have to submit a new membership application anyway when they join the troop. Save $36 a scout by not renewing them in December.

                  It just irks me no end. We've already got all the fliers and discussed and budgeted for our year.

                  I am not one to blame national. I love BSA. But someone really really screwed up at national big time to have this happen like it is. If it was my company, seriously, someone would get fired. This is going to have bottom line impact and screw things up for many people.


                  • #14
                    Little slow here...

                    This is about cub scout recruiting flyers that are provided free of charge from the council to the unit......The hub bub is that the council is putting a low ball price on them...

                    Well folks, WE have always done our own flyers, WE have control as to what dollar amount is put on them, WE put them in our schools and WE do the boy talks.

                    So don't rely on Council to do it......You know your program and fees better than they do....You can be completely honest and upfront with the parents....


                    • TSS_Chris
                      TSS_Chris commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Actually, BD, these Cub Scout recruiting fliers are being MAILED by the council directly to all households with Cub Scout age boys. These will have my Pack and personal contact info on them, AND the low-ball price. This is my problem.

                      On one hand, it's great that they are sending these, since our local school districts don't allow us to do boy talks. Sending home a piece of paper requires the personal approval of the Superintendent of Schools. She has an equal opportunity policy of rejecting everything.

                      I can be honest and upfront, but only if I get to the parents first. When the BSA makes an end run around me, that makes me mad.

                    • Basementdweller
                      Basementdweller commented
                      Editing a comment

                      Seems like a lot of money for just going fishing.

                    • TSS_Chris
                      TSS_Chris commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yes it is. That's why I'm exploring this paranoid delusion.

                      As Joseph Heller said, “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you”

                  • #15
                    We have debated that we can keep all of our fees the same this year if we just drop all the Boy's Life subscriptions.... You think other units will consider that option? Wonder what National will think of that option?

                    We've dealt with council/district publishing flyers with low ball prices to join and flooding the local schools with the flyers for years. We'd have a local small zoo give free admittance to any scout or scout leader in uniform in conjunction with a recruiting day. The flyer would say in May that it would be like $8 to get into the zoo and pay for registration in your cub scouts for the rest of the year. Our unit would get a few people, but usually they'd join and promptly drop--because the $8 to join would be less than the cost of going to the zoo for the day--so parents would already have gotten their money's worth even if they never went to a scout meeting at all.

                    The couple of scouts we got out of that program that stuck around had understanding parents that realized that was just registration fee for national BSA and to actualy do anything they'd have to pay some other kind of fee.

                    It may be the easiest way to approach this is that this is National's registration fee, and then the rest is a monthly dues payment to cover the cost of materials--which it's a lot easier if you just pay that $x per month up front please or in 2 easy payments. you get the same $ but it doesn't seem as much like a bait and switch thing.