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Laure

Spending the boys' account money

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Hi - my troop is in the process of starting accounts for each scout (as described in the "fundraising accounts" topic below). We have a pretty good idea of how to distribute proceeds between the troop and the participating boys for each event, and we're learning more as we go along.

 

The committee now is working on a set of rules for what the money in a boy's account can be spent on. Summer camp, yes. Camporee fees, probably. Troop outings (such as amusement parks), maybe or maybe not. How about camping equipment? Uniform purchases? What else are we not thinking about? Do any troops allow boys to make deposits, as well?

 

We're in the early stages of scout accounts in the troop, so any advice is welcome. Thank you!

 

Laure (a proud Bobwhite)

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We had lots of discussion about this very topic in our Pack - what could the boys use their $$ for? The initial recommendation from the Treasurer was that it would only go for Pack events (purchasing PWD cars, camp-outs, etc.) or District activities like Day Camp.

However after much discussion we decided that if it was a Scout expense, it should be eligible. That included anything they bought at the Scout Store (just show a receipt), admission prices for den field trips (museum, etc.), whatever. Scouts used it for uniforms, books, assorted stuff from the Scout Store, Webelos camping, that sort of thing.

I firmly believe that for Cubs, Scouting happens in the Den. We voted to allow the Cubby Bucks to be for Den, Pack, District, or Council activities or supplies - if it was for Scouting, it counted.

We never made allowances for those who wanted to make deposits, although I believe our Troop does work it that way. For us, it was just for those who earned $$ selling popcorn (after the Council and Pack took most).

As an aside - This lasted one year and fizzled out for lack of interest. Only about 1/3 of the boys had any $$ to speak of in their accounts. The Treasurer sent out a few final checks to clear those Cubby Bucks accounts and we ended it. I think it was an excellent idea and could have been a powerful incentive for raising funds - we just couldn't seem to make it fly.

clyde

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In our Troop, the boys are allowed to use their scout account for anything scout related. One rule is that their yearly activity fee must be paid first, either by using the account or some other method. We have withdrawal slips that they fill out and they must have it approved by the Scoutmaster. We made one exception to this rule. We had a boy who could not swim and we allowed him to take swimming lessons with his scout money. He learned how to swim and passed his BSA swim test for camp this summer. He is our top popcorn seller and is always willing to help pay for uniforms for those boys who cannot afford one.

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I've found that this idea gets more support at the troop level than at the pack level - maybe because there seem to be more expenses associated with troops (more camping, more specialized gear, longer trips, etc.)

 

Our troop allows the boys to use their money for any scouting-related activity or item, including monthly campouts, activities, camp, uniforms, gear, etc.. Generally we require them to provide a receipt for gear and then reimburse them for that amount. One "grey area" we've had is when a parent wants to attend a campout or summer camp - should they be able to dip into their scout's account to pay the campout fee? I think it would be useful to clarify this up front. The pro is, the parent probably helped the boy raise the money and it may be the only way the parent can afford to go. The con is, scouting is not for the parents, it is for the boys and it puts an added burden on the boys if they have to fundraise for themselves AND their parent(s).

 

We do allow deposits into the account by parents who just don't feel like writing checks every month. The only catch - and we state this very clearly up front - is that whatever money goes into the scout account is scout money. If the boy leaves the troop and transfers to another scout unit, he can take his money with him. But if he quits entirely, he doesn't get it back and it goes to the troop's general fund. If you go that route, make sure parents understand this before they deposit any large sums into the boys' accounts. Also think carefully about where large deposits like summer camp pre-payments go. We collected payments in installments this year, just to make it easier on parents - but we didn't need to turn in payments to the camp until later on so the money was sitting in accounts for a couple of weeks. One scout quit after having paid most of the summer camp fee. There was a debate about whether his family should be reimbursed. The troop hadn't incurred any real cost yet because we hadn't yet turned in payment to the camp and we weren't obligated to pay for this boy. But the money was assigned to his scout account when it was collected. In the end we decided to reimburse him because putting the money in the scout account (as opposed to a separate category just for summer camp) was simply an administrative decision by the treasurer - but it would've been better to have a clear policy on this up front and I know some people felt we should've kept the money.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

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I advise extreme caution in allowing "Scout accounts" to be used to purchase personal gear. If you are concerned about obtaining or maintaining a tax-exempt, charitable status, such use may jeopardize it.

 

Expenses of Scout membership and activities (e.g. dues, camping fees, uniforms, etc.) should not present any problems. However, using Troop funds to buy someone their sleeping bag or backpack is another story. While the uniform only has a Scout function, camping gear can be used for Scout and personal purposes.

 

No one would object to the Troop purchasing camping gear for the Troop's use, to be owned by the Troop. But the Troop funds being used to buy such gear for an individual, in my book, crosses the line.

 

- Oren

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My pack just instituted the "Ideal Year of Scouting" concept that was promoted by the Trails End Popcorn people, but we expanded it to include not only the Council popcorn sale, but also the unit's established fundraisers. We determine our program and build a budget on the activity costs and 100% advancement goals for every rank. We add the cost of rechartering and leadership training (Fast Start through specifics, BALOO, Trainer Development, Den Chief, OWL & ITOLS (for Webelos leaders going to our brother troop as leaders) and then we divide it equally between our registration goals for the year and that becomes our cost per boy. For every boy who successfully fundraises that goal, all his activities (including summer camps) and recognitions are paid for by the pack. For those boys who fail to meet the goal, they pay for their activities as they go and pay dues equivilent to their anticipated recognitions, recharter costs and their share of leadership development. We are 100% Boys Life and we buy our incoming Tigers their handbook. Still having some speed bumps, but parents and leaders are liking this concept and our participation in activities have increased significantly. Obviously, I'm a strong supporter of the individual scout account concept when used in this format. If the scout desires, he can fundraise beyond the set goal and this is placed in his account for uniforms and equipment that he may need during the year. Since we are suppose to give our boys an opportunity to earn their ownway in the program, this is an excellent opportunity for them to experience personal budgeting goals. If a boy quits scouts, it is understood that his balance is then applied to the general use of the pack for large purchases, like a new PWD track, and for application to camperships or hardships. Unfortunately, our pack has experienced a few parental deaths, so we underwrite the cost for any boy who has lost a parent(s) to death during their tenure and that money comes from the abandonned money of the boys who quit or don't continue on into a troop. Those who do go into a troop have their money transferred to their troop. We also maintain a "veteran uniform" exchange and this helps greatly with uniforming costs. Initially it's a lot of paperwork, but I think its benefits are worth the effort on many fronts.

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Laure,

 

Just a note of caution. Scout accounts can be a good thing, we did them for the first five years of our troop's existence. However, as we grew they started to pose quite a record keeping burden on our troop treasurer (a CPA - using Quickbooks for troop records) - securing the information, posting it, printing account balances, following up on negative balance collections, etc. We recently went off the scout account method and everyone (boys and adults) seems to prefer the simplicity of COD. We still do a very limited form of scout account accumulation for summer camp funds.

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Listen to orennoah--allowing your boys to buy personal gear can be a violation of non-profit status for your unit or worse, your unit's sponsoring organization--good way to have your charter yanked and remember, none of your "unit's" gear or money is really your unit's. IT ALL BELONGS TO THE CHARTER ORGANIZATION!

 

I learned this the hard way with one unit I was helping back in my college days--we were down to two adult leaders, myself and another college student. Chartered org yanked the charter. We found another unit for our 8 boys to join, but the old unit's sponsor (chartered organization) wouldn't let us have 4 tents (out of the 52 that unit had in storage) to transfer to the new unit to help them with the extra patrol we just added to them.

 

Anyway, when I was last active at the Troop Level (different unit/council then the one above), that troop took the precaution about what one can and can't buy with account money one step further: The scout could buy a uniform with their account, but they had to either surrender their old uniform or agree to surrender the one they bought when either they outgrew it or they quite/aged-out of scouting. That uniform then went into the troop's "exerienced" uniform bank for other scouts.

 

The scout accounts were only for the scouts for direct scouting related expenses (the yearly national registration fee/Boys Life, camping trip food, camporee fees, jamborees, etc.). We had it spelled out in writing what the accounts could and could not be used for. There was also a stipulation that any cash left in the account when the boy left the troop (either quit or aged out), any remaining funds went back into the general troop account.

 

We never had a problem with it. The accounts encouraged the boys to participate in the troop's fundraisers. Several boys who could not go to camp otherwise were able to pay part or most/all of their way (which looks better on the council campership applications).

(This message has been edited by moxieman)

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Summer camp yes. District Camporees, Yes.

 

Gear and uniforms. NO. NEVER

 

When a boy works on a fund raiser the money is divided among each boy that worked and applied to his troop account. We have one mother that doesn't want her son to work fund raisers. She deposits into his troop account at the beginning of the year

Dues goes into a different account that covers advancement and troop expenses.

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I agree that it should be used for fees, activities and dues, not for camping gear. I'm on the fence about uniforms.

 

Make sure you have clear policies published regarding these two points:

1) What happens to the money if the boy leaves the troop? In my opinion, he is not owed any money earned through fund-raising, unless he is moving to another troop that uses scout accounts. If so, you should be able to write a check to the new troop to deposited into his account. However, many troops just say the money goes back into the troop's general fund. Either is okay. What is not okay, legally, is to just give money gained through fundraising to the scout's themselves.

 

2) How do you disburse money deposited by parents? If you have one scout account, comprised of both money gained through fundraising and by parents making deposits, how do you disburse the money? Personally, I'd say make it "first in, first out". Either way will create some heartburn if the issue ever comes up. You really have no choice but to reimburse money deposited by parents, even if you choose not to disburse fundraising moneys.

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Like SemperP, we did away with scout accounts several years ago and went to a straight cash commission based on an individual's gross sales of our annual XMAS ..er Holiday Wreath sales. For each dollar in gross sales, 10% goes to the scout.

 

The scouts get a check at our XMAS er Holiday Party, and it is usually spent on gifts or personal camping gear or a downpayment on the following year's summer camp.

 

The remainder of the profits are split between the Troop and our annual donation to the District FOS fund. The troop pays for most camping expenses during the year(i.e. site fees, equipment upgrades etc.) Last year a scout could have attended all but two of our campouts and not pay anything except his share of patrol food. The exeptions were our ski trip and a trip to Nantucket, but even those were subsidized to reduce the out of pocket cost for scouts.

 

SA

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Check out the thread below from last February for more information on this subject.

Our troop calls these accounts "Members' Activity Funds" because the troop committee has allocated the funds to be used for scouting activities, but this extends to uniforms and equipment for every good reason.

If a scout needs a sleeping bag to go on a scout campout (they are included on almost every equipment list), there is every good reason to allow him to useactivity funds to purchase the equipment. If a scout is going to Philmont and needs a pair of hiking boots in order to be correctly outfitted then he should be able to use the activity fund money to purchase the boots.

Maintaining these individual accounts can become a big job, especially in a large and active unit that goes on a high adventure trip (or 2 or 3) each year.

The one change to the policyincluded in this link would be to limit the amount of funds that can be transferred from one unit to the next (in the case that a scout moves to a different unit). Let's say $1500 or so.

Here is the link.

http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=125312#id_125428

 

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Aquila Calva wrote: "If a scout needs a sleeping bag to go on a scout campout (they are included on almost every equipment list), there is every good reason to allow him to use activity funds to purchase the equipment. If a scout is going to Philmont and needs a pair of hiking boots in order to be correctly outfitted then he should be able to use the activity fund money to purchase the boots."

 

If your troop is trying to maintain public, charitable status (aka "501©(3)"), then I disagree. That is using charitable funds for personal benefit, which can jeopardize the tax status of the Troop / Chartered Organization. HOWEVER, if the Troop allows use of the funds to purchase the gear AND the Scout returns the gear to the Troop for future use when he is done with it, then I do not think there would be a problem.

 

FWIW, I'm an attorney and former tax-specializing CPA. Of course, other professionals may disagree, but why risk being wrong?

 

- Oren

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Is there another lawyer/CPA/tax accountant out there with a different opinion?

 

The troop is running a scouting program for the benefit of its members and for the benefit of the chartered organization. The chartered organization (not the troop) has the tax-exempt status (in almost all cases, and yes there are a few exceptions).

 

If a scout needs a sleeping bag or a pair of boots to go camping with the scouts, it is part of the program.

 

If a troop buys t-shirts and camp hats for all its members, can the members keep these items or do they need to be given back to the troop when the scout leaves the troop?

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