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Feeling the pinch

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I attended a District nominating committee meeting last week.

Somehow we got onto the subject of Council Finances.


I do have to admit to having an Axe to grind with our executive board.

About four years back the board found out that the United Way had given us notice that we were going to lose the funding they provided.

At this time the board said that they were going to explore and come up with new fund raisers.

To date nothing has happened.

I also have to admit that being as all this went down when my time on the board was up, I was happy to let them deal with it.

The United Way did cut off our funding.

From where I stand the way the board found to cover a very large debt was very "Creative".

At this meeting it was stated that the Council was going to end the year with yet another big debt.

The reason given was that because the income on the endowment fund was down, the amount that the Council can take from the interest is just not there. (There is in place a complicated formula for what percentage of this interest can be transfered from the fund to the operating budget)

All of us who have tried to save any money for retirement or whatever are painfully aware of what has happened in the past couple of months.

We have a new SE.I do like him and think he is going to take the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done. (Something that it seems SE's are not good at!)

We are going to have to see some cuts.

As yet no one seems to know or be talking about where these cuts will be made.

Of course everyone has ideas, suggestions and opinions. Some of the one's I have heard are better than others.

Some think that this is a good time to "Clean House" While others are just worried.

No matter where this Axe falls, be it on the Office Staff or the Professional Staff, the work that was being done will be shifted to someone else.

If we merge Districts the DE's will have larger areas and more units to look after.

If we move some of the work that the office staff now do to the DE's they will need to spend more time in the Service Center and not be on the road doing what they should be doing.

As I look at the District I serve, I'm worried.

We seem to lack the number of well established strong units that can weather a storm. Our Commissioner Staff is almost non-existent. The District Committee is weak. So taking away the services of the DE is really going to hurt these weak units.

On top of all this I'm not very optimistic about the financial outlook for next year.

Most of us are still feeling the pain from this year. I'm not looking for any place for a tax write off.

I also have to own up to being a little upset with the boards lack of action, which makes me hesitant to up my donations to the Council.

Maybe the people who see this as an opportunity to clean house are right?

But it is sad that at the end of the day someone is going to lose their job or be moved to some place they might not want to go.

Smaller Councils like the one I serve were having a hard time making ends meet when times were good. I'm not sure how many will survive these days of economic turmoil?



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I understand where you are coming from. In my council it is even tighter financially and the SE's first step was to cut the staff of DE's by 50%, then taking a large loan out on the council properties. The remaining staff have been instructed to spend ALL their time in the the next six months finding new financial resources in their districts, now twice their original size, ignoring their districts letting the volunteers deal with all the problems as well as doing all recruitment, school nights, events. So you can imagine there are some very upset volunteers and staff.


What really worries many of us is that we could lose our camps by foreclosure if things don't turn around. At the executive committee meeting it was told to us (COR's)that if we did not take these steps right now the council could close. Many of us feel the council's priorities are really screwed up and we wonder if this is nothing more than a precursor to closing us down alltogether.

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We're in a recession, folks, and it may well get butt ugly.


Yesterday, I was at church, talking with my parish president. Tithing has been going down for weeks now. We're doing all manner of re-looking budetary issues, even to zeroing out any growth in board budgets (including simple inflation management) and looking at cancelling staff pay raises. We've already decided to cancel two staff adds, even for P/T worship assistance.


Every non-profit will soon be feeling the pinch of this recession. Whether you're a Key 3 type, a Council board/committee member, or a volunteer in the trenches, it's gonna be tough. If you've got good ideas, put them forward.


Disclaimer: I'm a volunteer! :)

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I agree, John, And, in my opinion, it's a darn shame that BSA shot themselves in the foot with respect to funding from the United Way back when times were good (relatively speaking). Our district barely made our family FOS goals this last year and I'm not at all confident about next season. :(

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I don't know much about the money issues with specific counsels or districts, but I guess everybody is feeling the pinch as you call it these days. I have been hearing of layoffs from a lot of big companies in the city where I live. This has got to have an impact on scouting activities too.


However, it is also a big opportunity for us. I am hopeful that Scouting for Food will go well since people are hyper-aware of the economy. It is also an opportunity for our kids to learn some things so that hopefully they won't be as frivilous as my generation.


So, let's all try to look for the positive in these things. If we do, the scouting movement may come out of this stronger than ever.

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  • 4 months later...

What did the scouts do during the depression? They perververed. we as scouters must tighten our belts and lead the way through any means neccessary. I live in a state that has bottle deposits. We as scouts and scouters collect collect bottles and turn them in for cash. Yes, it is not much. Yes, it is grueling work. Yes i hate it. Do we get much out of such a lowly endeavor. Absolutely. The community sees that not only are we trying to help ourselves instead of waiting to be helped, but we can clean up a park while we are at it. Double whammy. Do i think that this is a great idea. Absolutely not. But we have to start somewhere. As scouters we teach the scouts that you have to rely on yourself first. What type of role-model are we portraying when we as Scouters and the BSA rely pre-dominantly on the hand-outs of others. Recently, I hvae begun selling some of my scouting memoriabilia on Ebay. As of now my council is not on the list of charitable donations that you can give to, but other troops and councils are. I will bring my council a check from my sells once a month. It probably won't be large, but every penny counts. One of the great things that i got from scouting as a youth was that if I or my patrol needed something or wanted something, then we would make a way. that is what we as scouters must do now. If we want scouting to continue than we will make a way.

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Our Council started a new fundraiser. The boys are selling discount cards. You are probably familiar with these things, many times sold by schools either in a coupon booklet or as a plastic card. Services and restaurants around town offer things like a free car wash, buy one get one free, free french fries with purchase of a burger etc. The cards are $10, the boys keep 36% as profit, the Council get's the rest, and the cards may be used over and over until the end of the year.


I can only speak for our Troop, but the cards are not selling well.


Council still has 40 openings for JAMBO participants. Most of those that have signed up and paid the $100 deposit haven't made the quarterly $370 payments the Council requested for last November and February. Those payments are not refundable, so I figure folks are just holding out until they know for sure they will be able to afford the full $1600.


Our District FOS is actually going very well and we are almost at this year's goal. I haven't noticed any businesses shuttered. I haven't noticed a great increase in houses for sale. Although, according to our local paper, food pantries have seen a dramatic rise in requests.


I work for a non-profit and we've felt the pinch for quite a while. No raises last year and a hiring freeze. Then travel budget cut. Now a one day a month furlough on all employees. Budget looking very bad for the remainder of our fiscal year, and more cuts being considered for next year's (fiscal year July-June). Husband's company cut hours and therefore pay by 25% for all employees for the month of March.


I've watched with interest the news stories about the rise in the stock market. Maybe this month I will open my retirement savings statements. Hmmm, maybe not.

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As far as I can see the Council I serve seems to be trundling along with little or no changes.

This worries me.

We seem happy to do this until we dig a really big hole and then things get really ugly.


So far the doom and gloom has not touched my family.

My little sister who works for an Australian company, but lives in Hong Kong has been hurt because she is paid in Australian Dollars and that Dollar has gone down a lot and doesn't have the buying power it once had.

The hospital where my wife works has said it is cutting staff by closing some departments.

One that is being cut is Mental Health. This is really bad news, Already the State has closed nearly all of the State Mental Hospitals, the result has been that more and more people who are mentally ill are ending up in State Correctional facilities, where they don't get the care that they need.

I'm not sure what the outcome of people who have lost their health insurance will have on the hospital?

She works in the ER and it seems that the people who don't pay are the most frequent "Visitors".

My co-pay to visit the ER is now $50.00, the co-pay for hospital employees has just gone up to $100.00. Many of these employees get a little upset when they see people coming in two and three times a week and not paying anything.


While like everyone else, I've seen many of my investments dwindle, because I have invested mainly in property and real estate I have been spared the sticker shock. I know that maybe these properties are not worth what they once were, but I never had any urgent plans to sell them and hope by the time I do, that they will still show a good return.

We in the area where I live never seen the huge jumps in house properties that were seen in other parts of the country and most of the banks in the area have always been very conservative when it comes to lending and who they lend to.

Talking with co-workers and people who live in the area, I have to admit to being somewhat surprised about how calm and how accepting they seem to be about lay-offs and cut backs. This might because in some ways it's a case of "Been there, done that and nothing is new".

I wasn't here when the big steel mills closed.

I have watched as the State has managed to mess up a local, what they call Technology Park. Build with a lot of government aid for Chrysler, who never even moved in and then occupied by VW who lasted as long as the tax incentives lasted then moved out. Then Sony moved in, again attracted by the tax incentives. Now claiming that the change in TV sets to flat screen LCD TV' means they no longer need the facility they are going.

I'm unsure how much money the State has poured into this site and the companies that have used it? But I do know that soon once again it will be empty.


Add to this the cut backs that companies like Kenna metal and the small mom and pop companies are making many people are feeling the pinch.

At home we have made a few changes, we looked for a deal that combined our TV, Internet and phone. We are thinking of not renewing our membership to the country club. (Mainly because we don't use it enough.)

I have delayed buying the new car I was going to and am thinking of buying a used car.

As yet I have to decide how much I'm willing to donate to the local Scout council. In part this is due to the fact that I'm not sure how the money is being spent and how much they need?

I'm still a little upset that the Board knows that the way we have gone about raising funds in the past is failing and even though they have stated that they are going to find new ways, nothing has happened. I was very upset when endowment money was used to bail the Council out the last time they found a big hole.

I think that maybe I'm hearing so much about everyone cutting back and looking at what we are doing and how we do it? That maybe the time is right for the Council to take a long hard look at what is happening?

Sadly it might take a financial kick in the pants for them to see this and get around to doing something. That is to say as long as we keep on bailing them out things will remain the same, until such a time comes that the hole is just too big and all will be lost.


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"At what point do we say "maybe we can no longer afford an SE who makes 150,000 a year"


I don't know.

We have a new SE.

He seems like a very nice fellow.

To be very honest, while I have met and talked with him a few times I have not worked with him.

I firmly believe that volunteers need to and should take charge of the program areas.

I know that with Commissioner Service fading away DE's are spending more and more time working with units.

Some people seem to think that this is a good thing.

In fact when our new SE came along a few very good friends of mine were overjoyed saying that he "Seems like a program type guy."

Truth is that I don't think we need a program type guy! I want a guy who is going to be out and about bringing more funds into the Council.

If this means he has to be out on the golf course winning over company executives or hounding foundations for grant money? I'm fine with that.

The sad truth is that most SE's are not trained to do this sort of thing. They spend their first few years on the job running around doing things that volunteers ought and should be doing.

If we had SE's that were bringing in lots of new funding and lots of cash paying them would not be a problem.

If all the SE is going to do is send his staff out to put pressure on the volunteers to support FOS and sell more pop-corn? Then maybe paying minimum wage is too much.


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I hear what is being said and I agree, in my state they are closing almost all of the state parks because of budget problems, several of which were favorite scout camping spots. Our council is only opening one camp this summer because of budget shortfall and has laid off staff in the office. Our 2010 anniversary event is also being cut back due to declining income. So where does it end, the council office is not a very happy place to visit these days and the roundtables have become little more than big gripe sessions.


After 100 years Scouting really does need to be highlighted much more than it is by National showing the public what an integral part of our society it truly is. Instead we have Mazzuca preaching to the press that if we do not cater to the Hispanic cultures with his new outreach programs that scouting could wither away. Maybe it is time to let the volunteers start running the programs again instead of overpaid scout executives. Like Kudu has said in the past, it is time to get back to the basics.

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I agree with back to the basics. But those of us who grew up on the basics are quickly aging. Who will recruit new, young volunteers and teach them "the basics"? Current BSA materials surely do not.


The idea of the professional staff being purposed to support the volunteers is right on target. Let them do the fundraising. Things are tough, but even here in Detroit there are still some wealthy folks who will support the right cause. But squezzing a few more FOS dollars from our troop will be a tough task for the district presenter tomorrow night.


I guess those of us who are committed to the program for life just have to step up a little higher. I don't have much more money or time to give, but I can find a little. If you do the same, we can make it through these tough times!



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