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SemperParatus

The High Cost of Scout Executives

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Yah, DE4, I'm not particularly an advocate for what the SM did. Goin' through United Way with designated donations is an awkward method, eh? Worth pulling him aside and explainin' why we do things the way we do, and asking for his support in the future.

 

Aside from that, people get to do what they want with their own money, whether we like it or not. If their friend from the office convinces them to give money to the scout troop he works with, it's their right to do that. United Way exists to allow people to do that, so it's really not an issue for UW as you suggest. Any of us who give to UW can designate funds as we see fit. Often that's a more Thrifty thing to do than tossing it into the Community Fund, eh? :)

 

Whether a gift is technically deductible most people only think of as an afterthought, eh? Not everyone itemizes, and individual donations are usually pretty small. But there are all kinds of ways to make the deduction legitimate, so that's not a card worth playing. The ultimate rule is that people get to do what they want with their own money, eh? Yah, and we do tell SM's that their out-of-pocket expenses, their uniforms, their travel miles and all that are deductible, don't we? Except that your argument that donations to units aren't legit would put the kebosh on all that, too. :p

 

Which leaves us with da BSA policy. I hear yeh about nitwits quotin' policy, eh? Everyone here will tell you that I'm hardly an advocate for waiving the policy brickbat around. So I apologize to you on behalf of my fellow volunteers for all the pudding-headed policy quoters that afflict your day. :p All policy must be read with understanding and both eyes fixed on the purpose.

 

So what's the purpose of the BSA donations policy? Well, the cynics might argue "malicious corporate control":(, but not really. Doin' institutional development is a tough gig. It's awkward to solicit the local business or high net-worth individual for a sizable donation, only to have 'em say "Oh, yah, I already gave $50 to Troop 222." I suppose the same applies to family FOS, but to a much lesser extent (they're already givin' to the unit, eh?).

 

Now, does the SM who asks his friends at work to give to help his troop buy tents or whatnot really interfere with the council soliciting major gifts or FOS? Nah. You never would have had access to those people at all through family FOS, and they probably would never have been on your radar for a major FOS solicitation, eh? So the SM didn't really compromise the policy. Quite the opposite - he convinced a whole bunch of people to give to Scouting. That's a donor pool that had you played it more gently you could have kept for years. Instead you lost that pool, and you lost most of the adults and the kids in that unit as donors too. Probably forever.

 

The problem you had was with your local United Way's understanding of the Scouting program, so that they improperly deducted the troop-designated funds from the council's Community Fund allocation. That's where a savvy professional would have spent his time, clearing up the situation with other NFP professionals at UW. Yeh need to teach 'em that the units are separate. You know, the same way yeh argue in court that the units are separate any time liability comes up ;). Frankly, I think the UW chapters that reduce Community Fund donations by the amount of designated funds are a sorry and slimy lot. Going after your own scouting supporters rather than UW was, I believe, a poor choice.

 

A good thing to remember when someday you're a high-paid SE. Even if UW had to give back the designated donations, your meeting with the unit should have helped those people to make the donation to the unit a different way. Then you should have sent all of them a thank-you for supporting one of your scout units, complete with literature on all the other good things your council does to support them (and other units).

 

Betcha would have added some FOS donors rather than subtracted 'em. Betcha would also have a few volunteers less willing to quote policy at you, and more willing to be of service. ;)

 

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah, you make a lot of good points. It's just hard to see it that way when fundraising is such a time consuming struggle for me. Last year, I finished roughly $3,000 short of my FOS goal. When I hear that a SM convinced people to give $1,500 to his troop I can't help but get angry. My thought process is, "Do what you're supposed to do and teach the boys to earn the money. If you know of people willing to donate to scouting, send them my way." It's selfish and short-sighted. On some level I know that but on another level I can't help it.

 

Honestly, part of my motivation was to stick it to the adults in that particular troop. Isn't that awful? It sure looks awful as I type it. I've had several discussions with them about their habit of soliciting. When the thing w/ the UW came up I got mad. I'd had it with them.

 

The result is probably going to be everything you said it would be. Upset donors, upset kids, upset leaders. When my SE and I left the meeting we were patting ourselves on the back. Now, after reading some of the points you've made, I'm not so sure we handled it 100% correctly. It's just hard to make those points to an upset SE in a contentious staff meeting.

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de4bsa

I have to tell you if you had done this to my troop, I would never support the council again, except to have you removed.

 

This unit did nothing wrong, people can donate to a troop anytime they want. If you say they can't show me where it says that?

 

 

Paul

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Beavah, you make a lot of good points. It's just hard to see it that way when fundraising is such a time consuming struggle for me.

 

Yah, yah, I hear you. You know my opinion. Fundraising shouldn't be part of your job description at all. :p If I ever swing a majority on our excom to restructure, maybe we'll invite yeh to the north to hold a real service position.

 

"Do what you're supposed to do and teach the boys to earn the money."

 

Yah, I guess I've come to agree with my Catholic COR colleagues on this eh? (shhh, don't tell anyone, or I'll end up in Calvinist hell ;) ). Teaching work ethic is an OK thing, but so is teaching charity and community support. Reality is that kids don't pay the real costs of Scouting, and that's the only reason FOS exists, eh? To keep them from payin' the real costs of scouting because we believe in giving kids opportunities. Kids don't pay the real costs of education, either - they benefit from tax dollars and parent dollars and financial aid and scholarships.

 

Our reason for not making 'em pay is that we believe by giving them free or low-cost opportunity, they become better citizens. By givin' them an example of charity and generosity they themselves become charitable and generous. Kids don't pay a salary to SM's, and we find that lots of scouts eventually give back by becoming adult leaders. Kids may also benefit from donations to their scouting activities - and I bet lots of 'em then end up as donors. Receivin' from the community makes you more a part of the community, and more likely to give back to the community of your time and talents.

 

But if yeh paid for the service, a donation isn't warranted, eh? We don't usually give a donation to our local 7-11. ;)

 

Now, after reading some of the points you've made, I'm not so sure we handled it 100% correctly. It's just hard to make those points to an upset SE in a contentious staff meeting.

 

Yah, live and learn, eh? It's hard talkin' truth to power. All we can do is fix what we can, and resolve to do a little bit better the next time.

 

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nldscout: "This unit did nothing wrong, people can donate to a troop anytime they want. If you say they can't show me where it says that?"

 

Yes, people can donate their money any way they see fit. But why didn't this scouter solicit donations for his troop directly from his co-workers instead of getting them to designate their UW giving to a particular subset of an entity? What he did, he did for the good of his troop rather than the good of scouting. While that is commenable on one hand, it is selfish on the other. He is not teaching his boys to be thrifty. A scout pays his own way. That doesn't mean getting other people to hand you money. If they do, great....but they also need to learn how to work for it, save and spend wisely. I think that exclusively soliciting funds for your troop to the exclusion of having boys work to raise funds is a disservice to the boys and potentially dangerous to the council's ability to provide for all units under their umbrella.

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Unit Fundraising Gifts and Tax Exempt Status

 

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what kinds of activities are allowable for a Pack or Troop to use in raising money for unit treasuries, and whether a unit is in itself tax exempt.

 

Quoted from the National office of the Boy Scouts of America:

 

It has been the long-standing position of the IRS and the BSA that units such as packs, troops, teams, posts, and crews are NOT covered by the BSAs group exemption, and that the BSAs tax exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(3) does NOT extend to units. Units are not, in themselves, legal entities. They are chartered to partner organizations of the BSA such as churches, PTAs and civic groups. Since a unit is owned by its chartering organization, each unit takes its tax status from that organization. Units are NOT subordinate organizations of the Boy Scouts of America.

 

Even if a unit is considered tax exempt, it is still prohibited from soliciting gifts or grants for unit support. As stated in the BSA Charter and Bylaws Article XI, Sec. 1, Clause 2:

 

Contributions shall be solicited in the name of the Boy Scouts of America only through or by the authority of the Corporation, and shall be limited to the National Council or chartered local councils Youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money for chartered organization units, for the local council, or in support of other organizations. Adult members and youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money in support of personal or unit participation in local, national, or international events..

 

To summarize, this means that the only means of fundraising for a unit, or any member in a unit, is through approved fundraisers after submission of a Unit Fundraising Permit. The council Popcorn sale has been approved by the National BSA as a local council, and unit fundraiser. Other ideas are such things as car washes, other product sales, wreath sales after approval from the district and council.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul, the above came directly from a article written by my SE for our Council's monthly newsletter. While people can in fact give their money away anyway they choose it is a direct violation of BSA policy for units to actively solicit that money. If you are currently doing that with your unit, you shouldn't be.

 

If you can't see what that unit did through the UW was wrong I don't know how else to explain it to you. The UW had already allocated $3,000 to my Council. When the SM pulled his stunt the director of the UW thought she had to honor that b/c she thought the troop was a 501©3. So, she was going to take half the Council's allocation and give to the troop. Where is the outcry over that? Your response makes it sound like you think I robbed the troop out of $1,500. All I did was make sure that the troop didn't, in essence, "rob" the council out of money that was promised to them. Good luck getting any DE fired for saving their council $1,500.

 

The UW director was thrilled she didn't have to honor that b/c she realized what a nightmare that could be. Industrious unit leaders everywhere could convince co-workers to allocate their UW pledges to their particular unit. Actually, UW directors all over the country hate donor designations and don't push it. If donor designations to a particular agency exceeds what the UW had already allocated to that agency then the UW has to cut funds from other agencies to honor those designations. That happened a couple of years ago in my area.

 

If the SM wanted his co-workers to donate to his troop he should've just asked them. Of course, that is still a violation of BSA policy, but it's better than taking it out of your council's pocket or potentially hurting other non-profits.

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I'm also an FOS Presenter, in fact, I've been the FOS Chair for my district for the last 4 years. Don't kill the messenger I like to say...

 

In viewing some of the local 990's, I'd say "you get what you pay for" and believe me I know what I'm talking about. Is $200,000 for a top executive a lot of money? Depends on several factors. How much revenue is coming in to pay that 200 G's. For a council that earns 3.5 - 5.0 Million that seems like an awful lot, but that top executive is on the hook for a lot.

 

Remember as well that it's not BSA that sets the actual compensation, it's the council executive board. They're they employers of the SE and they set the actual amount. That compensation may not always be in the form of a paycheck either, but must me related in dollars just the same.

 

In my previous council, the SE made a bit over 100G. He lost twice that amount in unrecoveralbe revenue losses. In this newer council, our SE makes about 200G's, but we're the 11th largest in the nation and growin like a weed, and not just from gobblin up the neighbors either. :p His management style has kept our cost per youth served to a very low number, something that's much easier to talk about at an FOS presentation than in years past.

 

 

 

 

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I've always known that council people have to focus on fund-raising, but it's still a bit disturbing to hear about it first-hand in such a stark light.

 

de4bsa, there are just so many things that strike me as unfortunate about your last post.

- First, that the United Way would take money away from the council because people designated a unit. Why? Those are two separate entities, as the BSA keeps pointing out. Contributions to one shouldn't affect the other. I know you have no control over her actions, but that doesn't make sense.

- Next, that the United Way was going to keep the total Boy Scout contribution at $3000, even though people designated $1500 for it. So that means that if I designate my money to some charity, the United Way doesn't actual increase their allocation to that charity. So what's the point of allowing designations, other than making people feel good about it?

- That ties in with my last complaint about the UW, where you say that they hate donor designations. Yes, God forbid that people actually get a say in where their donations go. For all of these reasons, I've stopped giving to United Way and just give my money directly to the charities I support. Your post makes it sound like the UW thinks its their money to allocate as they see fit, and darn those donors who actually interfere with that.

- You say the "SM pulled his stunt." He told people they could designate donations to go to his Scout troop. To some of us on the volunteer side of the equation, that doesn't sound like a real problem. People often donate to United Way because their company encourages them to do so; this provided a way, they thought, to get more of those donations to go to causes they were directly interested in. I'm sure they didn't think that doing this would cause less United Way money to go to the council.

- And lastly, you still haven't convinced me that the troop isn't a 501c3. Your note specifically says that it takes its tax status from its CO.

 

I'm sure there's a fine line between accepting donations and soliciting donations. I don't believe it's against BSA policy to accept donations. Many of our parents make donations to our troop. If they asked me if they could do through United Way, how could it be against policy for me to say that they could? Especially if it were true?

 

I was listening to a discussion of "reactant" personalities today on the radio. That's how people rebel against having their options limited. You just told this unit's donors that they couldn't donate to the unit, and the money had to go to council. I think the reaction that nldscout had would be common...council would not get any more money from this troop. Especially given the way you describe giving the message, I think you'd see units skipping FOS, stopping popcorn, and basically telling the council to go pound sand.

 

I know that your job forces you to focus on the finances. And that's too bad. I'll commiserate with you over that. But the units do not have the same focus on making sure council raises enough money. We're focused on delivering a quality program for the boys, and telling us we can't use donations to do that isn't likely to make a lot of friends on the unit side.

 

It's frustrating to see the professionals spend so much time on whether they can raise enough money to cover their own salaries, especially when SE salaries are so high. I'm sure there are many professionals who work to deliver good service to the units, and more power to them, but those aren't really the ones we're talking about.

 

Oak Tree

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de4bsa,

You seem to forget just whom you work for. It obvous that you don't like volunteers and they way an industrious SM got extra funds for his troop. If I was him, after I got rid of you I would have a talk with the UW about my 1500 that they owed me. If they didn't come up with it, I would be speaking to the newspaper about how the council and UW cheated the boys.

 

And yes its perfectly legal to take money when someone gives it to you. All he did was tell his friends to designate to the TRoop rather than give it to some distateful activity.

 

And you wouldn't make it in our district, you would be gone.

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After following this thread I see it becoming increasingly hostile and counter productive. nldscout, your last post was extremely unscoutlike as well as essentially incorrect. All scouting professionals work for the BSA not the volunteers, it is their job to manage and direct programs in their assigned districts and to raise money and units from the businesses, service organizations, and units in their area. Scout Executives manage a council and report directly to National, where most of them want to end up someday. Council executive committees have limited authority and can be replaced by the SE at will. Those are the facts, even though I don't like them either, and thats the reality of scouting today. Your CO's can vote at meetings but if any of them put up too big a stink the SE can pull their charter. Contrary to what many of us volunteers may think National has done a pretty good job insulating themselves from protests from volunteers, the only exception is when a law is broken. BSA is not and never claimed to be a democracy, it is a business with a large overhead in personnel and real estate and takes a lot of money to keep running.

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E,

You talking about Alfie boy? What did you think of him?

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I think what is unscoutlike is the methods currently used by National to solicit their salaries from the parents of my scouts. The amount of time spent on fund raising makes the benefit from any field services rendered to expensive IMO. In the 50s 60s & 70s we didnt bleed the units to fund professional staff. Back then we had a program which drew 5 times the boys it does today, I guess if what youre selling isnt selling you need to milk those that still believe. Wells run dry.

As for the SE being able to replace the executive committee at will I suggest you get your facts straight. Councils are registered as not for profit organizations in the state within which they exist. This is the reason for the paper work which caused this thread to be filed. States have laws governing not for profit organizations, these not for profit organizations have by laws. I know that those by laws have been recently changed by National as a result of the fighting going on in my Council. The executive Board is voted upon by the voting members of the council. If a slate is voted down twice then National decides who will fill the positions, BUT if the slate is approved by the voting members they can not be removed by the SE at will. As I say recent events here, which have led to civil action in and out of the court room, have caused many in my council to read all the fine print. It has also caused National to make the two vote rule to avoid voter take over. When the SE becomes dictator Scouting will cease to exist because those who keep it alive will stop putting on the uniform.

LongHaul

 

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Our local school system superintendent (a county northeast of Baltimore) just had her contract renewed at $190K salary + $20K deferred = $210K. She oversees a budget of $350 million, a paid staff of 4,000 and 52 schools. By contrast, our SE oversees a budget $4 million, a paid staff of less than 30 people and 500 acres of woods. Like I said, he is way way way overpaid.

 

 

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"I think what is unscoutlike is the methods currently used by National to solicit their salaries from the parents of my scouts."

Huh????

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought National paid for all their expenses out of the $10 registration fee. I thought FOS and Popcorn (other than the 35% paid to the unit) went to the Council. Are you saying the $10 registration fee is too high?

 

I don't know what our SE makes, and I really don't care. All I care is he is doing a great job! He probably makes about the same as our school superintendent, but the SE's area includes 18 districts, covering 13 metro counties. The SE also has to rely on a lot of volunteers to make the program happen, instead of counting on salaried workers. He is not guaranteed funding, as is the school system. The job requirements are very different.

 

RE: the troop soliciting funds. What in the world is a troop doing asking for UW funds?? If the troop needs equipment, they should be out raising funds through popcorn sales or other working efforts to pay for it!

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All scouting professionals work for the BSA not the volunteers, it is their job to manage and direct programs in their assigned districts and to raise money and units from the businesses, service organizations, and units in their area. Scout Executives manage a council and report directly to National, where most of them want to end up someday. Council executive committees have limited authority and can be replaced by the SE at will. Those are the facts, even though I don't like them either, and thats the reality of scouting today.

 

Nah, you're both missin' the subtle nature of the problem.

 

The Legal

BSA Councils are incorporated entities within their own state. As such, they are primarily subject to the state statutes for NFP membership corporations. The SE works for the board of directors of the council, and serves at their pleasure. The SE cannot replace the board at will, it works the other way around. The board can replace the SE at their discretion (subject to terms of his employment contract). The board has a legal fiduciary responsibility to the members of the corporation - the CO's. Not to the BSA. The SE's legal responsibility is to the council, not to the BSA.

 

National BSA grants a license (charter) to the local council corporation to operate a Scouting service facility and program in the area. That license comes with some strings in terms of bylaws approval and operating regulations, but while more strict than the charter relationship with CO's, still allows a fair bit of council autonomy in operation of the BSA program.

 

It's important to understand that the separate incorporation of councils is a significant risk management tool to protect the national organization from liability. If, for example, the Utah forest fire case exceeds the insurance coverage limits, the council will have to pay and may go bankrupt, but the BSA is insulated and we don't lose Philmont. Similarly, if council finances are mismanaged, or a serial child molestation happens, the council goes bankrupt but the BSA is insulated. So the BSA must not exercise direct control of council operations, both because of the limits of state law and to maintain its protection from liability & financial exposure. This again parallels the relationship between CO's and the BSA, where CO's are legally independent, therefore limiting the risk to the council and BSA.

 

The Practical

Practically, da BSA in recent years has increasingly tried to have it's cake and eat it too - maintain liability & financial isolation with separately incorporated councils, and then try to control their operations and claim ownership of their property. Yah, legally this is hysterical, and as Illinois demonstrated in ruling against the council, it's hard to imagine a court not seein' through the charade.

 

But it's rare that volunteers and CO's take a council to court, eh? So practically, the BSA manages control in two ways. First, it creates an employment system where DE's and SE's are dependent on National for promotion and employment. Councils boards are "required" to hire from a list of candidates that National provides, and National earns SE loyalty by takin' care of 'em even if their council boards fire them for cause (as we've seen with some of da numbers fraud guys who moved from council to council). So DE's and SE's are forced to have split loyalties - they owe a legal duty to the council, but their long-term prospects depend on National. Bad system, eh?

 

The second BSA mechanism in play of late has been threats not to renew council charters, with a threat to then try to seize council assets. This is a disturbin' trend, eh? IMO, it's a paper tiger. Much like threatenin' a CO with a charter revocation, the CO can continue offerin' a youth program, and then you're down a troop, a bunch of kids, and a bunch of resources. Seizing council assets would be an interestin' court fight, but I'd lay 3:1 odds on the council prevailing, and the negative publicity would demolish the BSA. What's disturbin' is the willingness to "go nuclear" when all it does is hurt people and program. Shows poor personnel choices and lack of good oversight by National. But it's scary and intimidatin', and fear sometimes works wonders when backed by legal threats.

 

The Ethics

In theory, Scouting as a Movement is supposed to be an organization that lives ethical choices and good citizenship. So what are the ethics of the case?

 

Ethically, the SE is employed by the council, and owes a duty of care to the members of that council. He (or she) must follow the directives of the council board, and must protect its integrity and independence, assisting the nominating committee by finding the best possible board members, not "yes men" or "national's boys". Actions requested by the BSA are strictly secondary.

 

Ethically, the council board owes a duty of care to the members of that council, too. They must never put BSA regulations ahead of the interest of the council corporation and the members, or the service work of the council. I personally think they should have a discussion each year whether they want to renew the charter with National or do somethin' different, because it's more their choice than it is National's.

 

Together, the professionals, volunteers, and council members should serve the charitable purpose of the council, and the interests of the boys in that area. That means takin' a good look at what the real overhead costs are (how much time does a DE like DE4 really spend raisin' money for his and his boss's salary, or doin' BSA administrivia, rather than providin' service to the member units and boys?). And it should mean evaluatin' the SE based on whether the service he is providing to the members merits his salary.

 

Volunteers, CO's, and board members have a right and a duty to be angry if it doesn't.

 

 

 

 

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