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The Numbers Game

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As I have posted elsewhere,here in my neck of the woods we are not doing that well in the membership department.

At this time I'm really pushing any and everyone.

I have asked that the Commissioner staff do a complete Inventory of membership. Who knows we might get lucky and find a load of unregistered Scouts?

Post cards have gone out to every youth member with a full color picture of the new Recruiter Patch. Which I for one think looks really neat.

Letters have gone out to all the unit leaders from the Membership Chairman, the DE. And little old me.

Just to make sure that everyone is getting the message the other night I phoned all the Unit Leaders.

Yes I am aware that I'm a pest.

One Cubmaster, who is a really nice fellow was and is a little upset. I have him down as "Losing" 38 Cubscouts.

I have to admit that as we get closer to meeting our goal. I do say to myself if only pack such and such hadn't lost as many.

Anyway, he tells me that they have never lost 38 Cubscouts. I inform him that my records show that at the end of the year last year he had a pack of 88 and that when he rechartered he only had 50.

He tells me that the pack has never had more then 52 and wants to know what I have been drinking!!

I explain to him that we need to go back to the 2002 charter and see what his membership was then and add on all the boys that signed on from Feb. When they recharter to the end of the year.

We of course during this time (Jan 1st thru Dec. 31st. The Membership year) Have had boys who have crossed over into the troop.

Why does the membership year and the Charter year have to be different?

Why can't membership be taken from the charter?


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"Why does the membership year and the Charter year have to be different?

Why can't membership be taken from the charter?"


I'm a bit confused here. We sign-up new scouts in September and they pay a pro-rated fee. Then in January (our recharter time), they pay the full fee. Consequently, memberships run with the charter year.


Looking at the membership numbers numbers and rosters that come from Council, membership is taken from the charter.


Do things work differently in your neck of the woods?



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I've been told it is done that way to spread out the work load for the council registrars. Can you say "temp staff"?


But for the grassy knoll types out there, it also inflates the numbers. We know in September what boys have dropped out from the prior year. But because they aren't officially dropped until recharter they are included in the head count on Dec. 31 (or Dec. 35th as the case was last year).


Our unit has solved the problem of the split year by collecting dues from ALL boys at the beginning of the school year. We collect and hold the registration fees until recharter time in February. Before, we collected dues in September and registration in January. Not only did that double the work for the secretary and treasurer, but the parents felt like they were being nickled and dimed. Families pay the same amount now, they just pay it all at once.

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Membership is taken from the charter.


When the unit recharters, it turns in registration fees for one year (usually. It can be 6 months to 18 months) for each youth and adult member. The registration fees are paid for the entire year whether the youth or adult stops attending (quits) or not. Unless you want to recharter every week, there is no other good way to do it.


New registrations get added to the charter (roster) of the unit in the council's records as they come in. Kids who just "quit" still have paid registrations and remain on the roster because their registration has been paid for the entire period of the charter.


So it is easy to have a pack who may have had 20 kids fail to return after summer and had 30 new kids join for the first time n September think that the council's "numbers game" shows them to be 50 kids bigger than they really are.


Of course the most accurate method of counting numbers would be to make every unit re-charter each week, but I don't think anyone wants that kind of hassle. People grouse about doing it once a year as it is.



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I have no problem with Twocubdad's methods of fee collection as long as new youth and adults are registered promptly, and not held over until the charter expires.


All kinds of bad things can and do happen when registration forms and fees are not turned in promptly.



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Any inventory or account will onlt give you that "Snapshot in time".

That is fine and I can live with that.

What is getting to me is why we have to have two "Snapsots".

We are aware that the year end total is not a real number.

The only real number is that which the unit recharters with.

The question is why do we play these number games?

Add to this all the stuff that the pros. go through in June and it seems to me that no only are we wasting time, but we are a lot of the time providing facts that we know are in fact fiction.

As a district we are trying to put less emphasis on recruiting and more on retention.

I don't know if the rise in the membership fee last year really hurt us, but I do feel that it didn't help.

While I'm on my high horse.

As long as the Membership Goals do not take into account the percentage of the available youth they will always be unfair.

Our district has the highest percentage of the available youth in the program.In our council and far higher then the national average.

Of course that means that there is less available youth available to be recruited. Making recruitment all the more difficult. Add to this years when the birth rate was low the number of available youth goes down and as ever the membership goal still goes up.

Does national have an idea of what the percentage of the available youth for the USA is?

Eamonn(This message has been edited by Eamonn)

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I feel your pain, Eamonn.


Our district pushes 30% total available youth, so meeting membership goals is tough. That needs to be factored in, somehow. Generally though, our biggest hurdle in meeting quality district status is units. Out of 50+ units in the district, there are about 10 mega-units at the top of the list, but then a constant turnover of the bottom eight or 10 units. Two percent growth in units should be only one or two units, but we usually start at recruiting eight units in the hole.


All the numbers aren't in yet, but in terms of membership, it looks like we will make both the 2% growth and balanced growth numbers this year. Last year we made 2% on the strength of the Cub recruitment (yours truely was Roundup chairman, thank you very much) which was a good thing as we were way off on Venturers and right at break even on Boy Scouts. We did make quality district.


Our Pack had a whale of a good Roundup this year, 50% ahead of last year and four times the number of Tigers. But I can already tell that in some respects we just dipped deeper in the barrel. There seem to be quite a few families with a very marginal commitment to Scouting. We've already had four Scouts drop. One moved out of state, two transferred to other packs because they didn't like our meeting schedule and one quit because the mom didn't think we were organized enough for her (I later found out we're her third pack in 18 months -- I hope the door didn't hit her in the butt!)

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"there seem to be quite a few families with a very marginal commitment to Scouting."


I think that many parents put their kids into Scouts simply because they want something to fill the hole between sports seasons. I'd bet that if my troop lost all but the guys who really want to be there and be Boy Scouts, we'd be down to about 30% of our current strength.



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Alright guys, I'm going to not pull punches on this one and I don't intend to deliver punches.


As a professoinal Scouter, I admit that I live and die by the membershp recruitment numbers. However, I make no apology for it. I think we all understand that if membershp goes down, bad things begin to happen -- we lose funding, there are less kids at activitiies, the public begins to wonder if we are a viable organization, and, quite frankly we can not meet our mission.


Therefore there will always be a drive for membership. I also, quite frankly, do not believe that the BSA is a movement. A movement, by definition, does not have to work to recruit -- the people are driven to join. That's the Social Science major in me coming to the 'fore.


How we measure membership is open to debate -- obviously, or it wouldn't come up as often as it does. Consistency is the answer. The BSA counts its membership the same way year after year. What you've got as of 12/31 is what you've got. There is a mid-term goal (called the Chief Scout Executive's Winner's Circle) that some call unfair (I'm among them, BTW -- it is a recognition for professionals and doesn't effect the volunteers one way or the other. I've brought that up to Regional Directors and have gotten nowhere.) However, there is a direct correlation -- the districts and councils that are "on track" on 6/30 tend to be the ones who make Quality (which affects us all) on 12/31.


Don't complain about the system -- make it work. That's my advice.



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Dave old Chap,

I like to think that we are all aware how important membership is.

We would all love to see every youth that could join be a member.

There are no ifs ands or buts.

It is not the why that is getting to me it is the how.

Maybe it is time that we move out of the dark ages and take a long hard look at the entire rechartering procedure.

In this day and age of computers and high speed exchange of information why can't we just go with a date that will be the membership total date.

It really doesn't matter what the date is.

On this date everyone in the entire BSA recharters and is counted.

This would be the same date every year.

Having two sets of dates for counting is unfair.

Please let me know if you can think of a good reason why we have to have two sets of numbers.


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Eamonn, my friend:


I'm never sure about your British terms as to whether they're terms of endearment or insult. I have only our phone calls to tell me that they are terms of endearment. I don't speak English, as it were ;)


Actually, I don't understand the question, either. There is only one died in the wool measurement date for membership and that is 12/31. Everything else is just a checkpoint. If the district is 2% ahead in youth and units as of 6/30, it probably will be as of 12/31. If the unit is ahead in membership as of the Join us Night, the unit (district, council, etc.) probably will be as of 12/31. If the pressure is felt and met as of the check points, the goal will probably be met.


If there are no checkpoints, folks may proceed feeling like they're on track when they really aren't and the goal is not met at the end of the year.



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I hope that you would know that I don't pull my punches.


Dear Boy

Dear Lad

Dear Old Boy,

My Dear Boy

Old Lad.

My Dear Fellow

And a lot more are indeed terms of endearment.

I think that most unit leaders tend to think that the number of boys/ youth on the charter that they turn in is the number.

All the Troops in our Council recharter in Jan and the Packs in Feb.

A lot of things happen in the meantime.

Webeblos Scouts cross over or in some sad cases quit.The number of Cub Scouts is never in Feb. What it was in Dec.

Of course any snapshot will only give the membership as of the time that it was taken.


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One of the ways to determine if you are progressing is to have goals and to make measurements. To make them valid they have to done the same way each and every year. To take the numbers at the end of the year can be easily gather, to take recharter numbers would delay reporting as we know a few units do not report on time.

The year end numbers are always larger than the recharter numbers because a boy is registered for the year. There are always boys who drop out, age out or move to another unit, in another district or council. If there is a growth in this number from last year end you have reached that many youth in the year whether they are there in the program for the full year or a few months.

They other way that you can measure is taking that membership number and compare it to the eligible youth. You get eligible youth from the school district counts for boys in 1st to 12th grade and girls in 9th to 12th. If your percentage goes up youre doing a better job of reaching. Though when the actual count of youth goes down there is usually a direct correlation money raised and without money the program will suffer.

Numbers are the only objective way to determine if the program is successful. If you are not delivering the program you will lose youth and then you will lose units. Sure even when numbers are down youths lives are changed and by that measure the program is successful but it is hard to come up with an objective way to quantify that.


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