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Eamonn

FOS District Goals

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Have just returned from a council FOS meeting.

Sad to say things are not looking good.

While the Assistant Scout Exec, did his best to paint a rosy picture and pat everyone on the back.

The real picture is that we are down about 20% as a council.

I work for a very large company, and due to a glitch, my department was charged with some of the expenses from another, but while the glitch was being found, things were very tense.

It just didn't seem that way tonight.

We as a district, and myself as someone who likes to get the job done and move on, take these goals to heart. At this time we have made our District goal, are close to the community goal (86%) but not making the family goal. Plans are in hand to "Make up the difference" by enlarging the amount from the district and community.

History shows that thanks to some outstanding community captains, we do a better then fair job.

In the past the key 3 have set the goals, but this year without any discussion, the Scout Exec.rewrote them.

We are the smallest district, and yet there is only $250.00 difference, between us and a district that is almost twice our size and in a more affluent area. Who are miles away from reaching any goal.

When I mentioned this and said that these goals ought to be done on membership. This was shot down. The reason given, was that we can do it !!

How do other councils set district FOS goals ??

And am I wrong in thinking that any DE, who has been on the job for a while (All of our DE's are senior DE's) who is not doing everything that can be done to meet these goals, ought to be in fear of what ??

Please do not for a minute think that I'm trying to get anyone fired, or have a thing about the council needing the money.

I do think that we need to find some fair way of setting the goals.

How the money is spent? Could be the topic for another thread, but it's late.

Eamonn

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I've seen fos goals set in lots of different ways.

 

I think your input on the goal is critical. This year we had the largest increase in FOS goal that I have ever seen. (About 20%) It was done after a group of volunteers, including several district chairmen, had reviewed the budget and saw no other way to maintain services at current levels.

 

Without the buy in from everyone, these goals would have only been a pie in the sky thing. We are running more than 20% ahead of last year, even in an economy that is pretty depressed. Big corporate gifts are down, small grass roots gifts are way up.

 

As for the other district, they probably don't have the same quality of leadership as yours. That should be the focus of the council leadership. If the DE is not capable of building such a team, then there should be some fear as to the fate of that DE, or the management that is teaching this DE how to do their job. Don't be surprised if your DE gets a new challenge in a larger, underachieving district soon.

 

A few things that are facing some Councils this year that are impacting budgets. Most of these are facing the Council I am in. United Way contributions are down. Council contribution to employee medical benefits are up. (employee contribution went up almost 30% as well.) Liability insurance cost is higher than budgeted. Perhaps your Council is responding to some expenses that are higher than expected.

 

Congrats on being at goal by the way! Not many are done this early, I am shooting for the end of June. $250,000 to go.

 

RMV

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I have no clue how our goals are set locally. I only know that we usually meet them. (We typically sweat membership numbers at year-end.) I'm also proud to say that my unit had about a 40% increase in our contribution this which represents about an eighth of our district's Family FOS goal, out of about 50 units.

 

While I can't really answer your question, the thing that bothers me most about your tale is that the SE unilaterally changed the goals set by the key three. I hope he was more politic about it that your post suggests. Otherwise, were I the district chairman, I would be very tempted to write a letter to the Council president letting him know that my district would stick to the goals we had set and suggest that he review with the SE some of the basics of working with volunteers.

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I usually let strings run for a while before diving in. I wait for selfish reasons -- I like to see what good volunteers like yourselves are thinking.

 

I really liked Eamonn's post. It was fair and asked a very good question.

 

I've been in councils where the FOS goals were set by volunteers (with professional guidance based on a lot of work looking at past giving, potential giving, manpower, etc.) In that council, in most cases, the goals the volunteers came up with were higher than those set by a budget-conscious Scout Executive . . . and were more likely to be achieved.

 

I think in the case in-hand, there were probably surprises. For example, perhaps after the goals were set (or proposed by the district key three, committee, whatever) the Scout Executive found out that United Way was going to cut it's funding to the council significantly, summer camp sign-up was down significantly, and the spring popcorn sale had a significant drop-off.

 

Someone has to figure out where that lost revenue will be made up. It starts with the Scout Executive. The Scout Executive probably shared his concerns (and vice-versa) with the council officers who may have decided to raise the goals in the areas where Scouters have the greatest control -- like FOS and popcorn.

 

I like the example RMV used where the district folks were brought into the budget process and had the wisdom to realize that they had to raise more in FOS or face the difficult decisions of what to cut out of the program.

 

I don't advise writing to the Scout Executive and saying that you'll raise what you'll raise and that's that. Better would be to request an appointment to find out the rationale so you can help by getting the volunteers in the district behind the concept. A request for understanding which may lead to more help is worth a whole lot more than a threat.

 

I understand Eamonn's frustration at being asked for as much as a larger district (more affluent to boot.) The bad news is that you are being asked to do more because of your past performance. The good news is the economic reality is on your side. If your SDE (who will be known among professionals as "one who can raise money") gets a promotion, you're going to get another good guy/gal and quickly.

In the case of "the guy who can't raise money," he may well get the boot and the Scout Executive won't be in much of a hurry to fill the vacancy.

 

As to "how is the money spent?" I'd be happy to weigh in to such a thread, but would wait a while to see the responses.

 

Have a good evening. My council will be spending some of it's budget on my services to the council training committee this evening . . . salary, gas, auto, meeting notes, etc.

 

DS

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DS, I agree completely with you that the steps you outlined are the preferred way to handle the situation. That's why I was careful to note that I HOPED the SE had been more politic and that I was TEMPTED to write the letter.

 

One of the limitations of this board we frequently deal with is having partial information and almost always just one side of the story. You filled in the blanks and assumed that the SE was dealing with some surprises. Unfortunately, that's probably not a bad assumption. But regardless of the problems he is dealing with, changing the district's goals (already a sore spot, apparently) without consulting the key 3 was a poor way to handle it. It may be within his authority to dictate to the DE, but to the volunteers. Another assumption could be that the changes were communicated to the DE, but the DE, ticked off about the added responsibility, stuck it to the SE by communicating poorly with his volunteers. Again, that's one of a dozen likely assumptions we could make, but none in the original post.

 

Once the new goals were handed down, there are a lot of ways to handle the situation. As hypothetical District Chairman, I believe my "chain of command" is to go through my Council President. As hypothetical chairman, my hypothetical letter would no doubt be much longer and more politic that the one line in my response, above. But however you want to word it, if the SE expects our district to buy in to his new goals, I believe it is up to the SE to communicate the problems/needs to the district volunteers. No one likes being dictated to.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Twocubdad:

 

I agree with you 100% on all counts. I'm not sure where communications broke down, either, but it's pretty obvious that they did.

 

DS

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I had to stop by the Service Center, this afternoon. While I was there I found out that the DE, from the "Affluent area", had given her notice and was hoping to start a new career in real estate.

Have to admit to feeling a bit sad, she was with us for four and a half years.

When I spoke with her she said that I knew it was coming !!

Well I didn't. We are a small council, but not that small. She wasn't from my district.

It is a real shame, not only for her, but also for Scouting, all the time and money that was spent on training, is now gone, and we start all over again unless we hire from within.

I pull all of our DEs legs about wearing the "Darth Vader" patch.

Strange thing is that the chap who was the DE, for that district moved up to another council, was unhappy so he quit,but is still in Scouting as a Council Training Chair. not that far from us.

These are strange times.

Eamonn

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Eamonn:

 

I agree that it's sad to see a Senior District Executive leave the profession. I hope she fares well in real estate and that the parting is mutually amicable.

 

I'm also one that shakes my head to see a professional leave after the first three years. As far as I know, the BSA profession is one of the few that aknowledges that it's professionals are "basic trained" upon completion of PDL-3 in three years. That's about how long it takes a new professional to learn the basics and be ready for additional assignments.

 

There's another hump around year 8 where we tend to lose professionals. Wiser heads than mine have tried to figure that one out.

 

I'm working on year 15. I figure I'm a lifer -- maybe literally! The earliest I could retire is 20 years away. I imagine the Guide to Safe Scouting will cover jet-packs and teleportation by then. The Advancement Guidelines will have to address passing along rank requirements to clones :)

 

DS

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The original post stated that FOS pledges were 20% down this year. When most people I know have lost 40% of their retirement savings in the current Bear market, I would say they are 20% to the good. The glass is half full! Let's keep it in perspective.

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I doubt that you will find any non-profit program that would share that philosophy with you scoutldr.

 

Any organization worth its salt has one goal, to serve more people in their community this year than last year. More people requires more resources just to maintain the current level of service. Even if membership remained constant the cost of goods increases and so the financial need increases with it.

 

In the BSA, I know of no council leadership (volunteer or professional) who do not have as a goal to not only grow in membership but to provide a better program,and better program support each passing year.

 

So to add members and improve service always requires a growth in financial resources. having a half full glass is no victory if you have more thirsty people this year than last year.

 

Bob White

 

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It's a tough climate to raise money, I'll admit. But I'll agree with Bob White that 80% isn't enough. Many councils are looking to cut expenses. The problem is, where do you cut?

 

Eliminate positions? Save salary, loose someone who can raise money.

 

Not feed the Scouts at summer camp? Not really an option.

 

So we focus on fund-raising. In our council, FOS is running ahead of last year, but summer camp sign-up is down, United Way cut us significantly, and the spring popcorn sale was way down.

 

We're re-doubling our efforts on fall popcorn and wreath sales. Also adding a special event.

 

DS

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I didn't say we shouldn't have stretch goals. I only meant that if we don't meet them, it's not always because of our shortcomings and it doesn't help to beat the volunteers harder(as is happening in my area). Indeed, it's very counterproductive. Yes, I increased my pledge this year...but the only response was, "it's not enough, we need to do more."

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Some Thoughts That Have Come To Me.

I think that is very strange that we have had no hits, from a District Finance Chair.

 

Our Council is really lucky that the United Way hasn't cut any of its funding.

 

Yes I'm guilty of asking people to "Up" their donatation, but try to be polite, and understanding if /when they say no.

 

I'm really lucky that my retirement account is only down by about 2.3%.

 

I want Twocubdad, in my district.

 

I really hope that the $250k that RMV, is looking for is a council goal - I'm gray but a goal like that would put me over the edge.

 

I also think that Bob White, would do a great job of keeping me on the stright and narrow.

 

Dsteele, in another thread is threatening to blow raspberries. Maybe next year I will do a better job of communicating with my Scout Exec. If things don't go well, the need for a talented Raspberry blower might arise.

 

When all is said and done, we must never forget the end user. Take a trip to a day camp, watch the Cub Scouts, that extra few bucks, IS money well spent.

 

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I'm not going to answer for RMV, but I'm relatively sure that the $250K he's trying to raise is a service area goal (the districts he supervises.)

 

He's much larger council than what most of us are used to, including Eamonn. If we added up your council and my council, we might be half the size of his.

 

I wasn't threatening to blow raspberries (although I've done it twice today.) I was advising the guy with the old back patch to do it.

 

In the interim, we're doing okay in FOS, but still a ways away from our $120K goal. We'll get there. I just wish I had you and Twocubdad here to help us do it.

 

DS

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dsteele,

I was of course teasing, however the thought of having a "On Demand Raspberry Blower" is very appealing.

I may have spent too much time watching Monty Python.

Have you seen the National Report on FOS ?

Sad to say my little council is very near the bottom of the page.

This year for the first time, I'm inviting all my FOS workers to camp for dinner, when summer camp is up and running. My hope is that seeing the camp in action will spur them on to do bigger and better things next year. We always give them a small gift, but this is something that I think will work.

We will see.

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