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momof2cubs

Do we have the right to know?

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In recent months I have become thoroughly disenchanted by council and their FOS campaigns. I am tired of the constant pressure to sell popcorn and donate money. And I don't see why they need/want my money. Everyone I talked to spews the corporate line about "maintaining the properties" and "running the program" without giving me ANY specifics whatsoever.

 

So this year, I raised the issue. I told our FOS volunteer that I wasn't donating any money because I am not taking in good faith that it is properly managed. I went to our council office and asked to see the financial report and got the royal run around. So my friend (the FOS volunteer) made some phone calls and got me so info.

 

This post is two-fold. The 1st question is, why was did I have to jump through so many hoops to get the information? Why did I have to make myself a nuisance in order to get it? Shouldn't it be readily available.

 

The 2nd part is this. I got a ONE PAGE report. It was a top-side P&L. Fine. Except that while it had quite a bit of detail on where the money was coming from (i.e. so much form FOS, so much from popcorn, so much from the shop, etc etc etc), when I got to the EXPENSE side it had two lines.

 

Program Services $8,000,000 (yes that's MILLION)

Management 600,000

Fundraising 1,200,000

 

I was blown away. Are you really expecting me to swallow 8 million dollars as a ONE LINE ITEM listed as "Program services"?????? DO you know how much waste can be hidden in 8 million dollars??

 

What say you scouters? Should we not have more detail than THAT????

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HMMM I'm not an expert, and someone with the background please let me know, but I thought Non-profits had to be able to shwo the budget when requested.

 

That said, I think it's guidestar.org that publishes non-profits' tax forms. It may be a year or two old, but it's a source.

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Our council publishes the financials.

 

But as the previous poster noted, check out www.guidestar.org ...

 

 

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Non-church NFPs have to file annual report forms with da IRS, and those are public record available through several sites. They aren't really accounting statements, though. Of course, the silly nonsense momof2cubs got isn't an accounting statement either. :mad:

 

Momof2cubs, yeh need your COR to take this up on your behalf. As just a "consumer" of BSA materials, yeh aren't entitled to corporate financials. But your COR as a member of the corporation is, eh?

 

I've found some councils over the years to be unconscionably shoddy about their financial statements. Yeh would think that any real professional would die of shame if he ever presented annual financial statements that weren't in compliance with GAAP, but I don't see 'em keeling over. Now mind, that's not altogether unheard of in the smaller NFP enterprises, but councils are big enough and public enough that you'd think a higher standard would apply.

 

Yep, momof2cubs, trust but verify. If the COR can't get good, audited or reviewed annual financial reports, then the CO should say "no" to popcorn or any FOS solicitation of their membership, and the COR should raise the issue at the council annual meeting, perhaps with a "no" vote on the council board.

 

Beavah

 

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I once looked up my council's Form 990 on guidestar.com. The detail was about the same as what momof2 describes. There were only two employees listed (only those making >50K have to be listed)...the SE at WELL over 6 figures, and one other person at about 50K. I can't speak to mismanagement, but the public would be surprised to know that the money they pay for that box of popcorn at 10x market price isn't going to where they think it goes. And when the popcorn and FOS revenue doesn't cover it, the answer is to sell off camp properties.

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When Rush Limbaugh says "It's all about the money", that's one pearl of wisdom that I can accept that he's right about. He should know.

The way to shrug all this off and make it NOT about the money is to refuse to contribute, ignore the pleas, and then devote time and resources to the boys and the unit. You will still buy the uniforms and handbooks, etc. That's fair enough. And the six-figure guy may frown (that poor, poor man...) but they'll use the unit and (perhaps inflated) numbers to leverage the funds from someone else so you'll still be doing your part.

Like my coffee cup says, "Don't let the turkeys get you down."

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So I went to guidestar, registered, and took a look at their latest 990 form (2010). I am an accountant, so I think I can muddle my way through a 990 form.

 

The results were interesting to say THE LEAST. I believe that it was Basement that said that FOS stands for Fund Our Salaries and I think I just confirm it. They listed only the salary of the Chief Executive only (at a comfortable six figures) but then listed a couple more executives at also a low (but still very comfortable)six figures. It also surprise me how low the net income from the shop was (200K), I was assuming a lot more. I think I will stop complaining about the prices there. ;)

 

Papadaddy also has it right about the popcorn and sales of assets. But the MOST interesting tid bit of information was the amount paid in salaries. They list a total of 55 full time employes. They don't list individual salaries except those I mentioned, but they spend over 3 MILLION in salaries and benefits and payroll taxes. That averages out to about 54,500 per employee. Not luxury, but I wouldn't call that peanuts either. What's mind boggling is that they need 55 people to run council full time.

 

The OTHER piece of info that I was MOST looking for is how much they grant back to scouts in need. Care to guess? It listed $65,000 in camperships and a total of around $147,300 in other assistance (uniforms, food, registration, supplies, transportation). That's out of over 10 MILLION in revenue listed.

 

I encourage everyone to look up their council's 990 forms on gudestar before making an FOS donation. I think it will be eye opening for sure.

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The products in the scout shop are still overpriced, but the real money goes to national, not the councils. One of the reasons all the local retailers who used to have small "scout shops" in the corners of their stores have mostly gone away is the margin BSA allows is about 5% (at least that's what the lady who used to stock scout stuff told me before she got rid of it all.)

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Twocubdad: It doesn't surprise me. What angers me the most is not so much that National makes an untold amount of money off of their products, but that they get said products from China. This is Boy Scouts of AMERICA we are talking about.

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Momof2cubs, yeh need your COR to take this up on your behalf. As just a "consumer" of BSA materials, yeh aren't entitled to corporate financials. But your COR as a member of the corporation is, eh?

 

That, in a nutshell, is the problem. The idea that the volunteers are just another market to be exploited by the corporation. "Not only are these people so stupid they are doing for free what I'm getting $100K+ for, but they'll pay US for the priviledge of volunteering. And hey, watch this -- I'll bet you a round of drinks I can get this one to pay me $155 just for my signature!"

 

There used to be a slogan that Scout is volunteer run and professionally guided. I suppose now that's more of a punchline than a slogan.

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The reality is, the scouts, volunteers, and parents are "customers" of the BSA, not "members". We purchase the program from them, and donate additional money to pay their salaries. If we had to pay the real cost of the program, not many would, so they make up the balance in corporate and personal donations, in the form of money and volunteer hours. Pretty ingenious.

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I wouldn't call it an epiphany...this confirms what I have LONG suspected. I have been working at the unit level, I have even forayed into the district level. In the past I have made FOS donations because I was a bit naive and because I had faith in BSA. The more involved I became in the program, the more I started to question financial issues.

 

What am I gonna do about it? I am not sure. I am tempted to broadcast this information from the rooftops and get everyone I know to stop donating. But what is that going to do? Probably give my unit and possibly the district (if am I egotistical enough to think it would make an impact) a bad name. I have probably already been called a few names by council for daring to question their methods.

 

What bugs me is that those FOS people that come to pitch your unit are volunteers as well. The funded salaries people do not even do their own dirty work.

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The question that I have is one that would be really hard to get an answer to - what do the professionals do with all of the time that they put in?

 

For the DE - I'm imagining it could be broken down into a few categories:

- fundraising

- working on district events (committee meeting, training, roundtable)

- providing standard service to existing units (recharter, proof of insurance)

- working to establish new units

- fire-fighting with existing units (allegations of improper behavior, in-fighting, etc)

 

The SE would presumably have a bunch of other items, too - personnel, finances, all kinds of things.

 

Then there are all the other office personnel - Eagle registrar, receptionist, whoever rubber stamps the trip plans, prints the membership cards, does the finances, etc.

 

I do feel like some of those things could be made more efficient, but that's true of most every organization everywhere. It does seem like there has to be some official professional person in place to handle a lot of those issues, but I swear, on the pack side, that the total value we've received from the council is pretty close to nothing. Still - there is some value in just having the official backdrop in place. The troop does have more touch points.

 

If a district has maybe 50 units (25 packs, 25 troops), I can see that requiring something like one DE and one other support person (taking something like 10 districts with 10 other council personnel). If they average around $50K salaries, plus overhead for benefits, office space, computers, travel, etc, I could imagine that being around $75K per person. So that would be $150K per district, or an average of $3K per unit. If the average unit has around 30 youth, that would work out to around $100/youth. I guess that doesn't sound too unreasonable.

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I definitely don't want to defend shoddy financial practices or quasi-abusive fundraising habits. But I do want to make a comment about DEs doing their own "dirty work."

 

I've worked with a few DEs on a pretty close basis over the years and I've had family who were career BSA professionals. What I saw was that the front-line folks (the DEs) get saddled with highly unrealistic expectations and targets to meet. They work 60 hour weeks routinely, including summers, weekends, nights, etc. Their unit and district level volunteers often see more of them than their families do.

 

As for "dirty work," in my smallish district of under 40 units, it would be impossible for our DE to personally deliver the FOS pitch to all units (given timing of these presentations, which is largely at the whim of the unit leadership). So yes, they need a team, although in my experience, few of the volunteers who agree to do this are any good at it and it may even be counterproductive. Meanwhile, the DE is typically responsible for the success/failure of the "community campaign" by which we mean soliciting the bigger money from local corporations, etc. Volunteers seldom do or even see that part of FOS.

 

And while the pay for the top-tier folks is high (I don't believe that a SE should make 300k but it isn't unusual), the pay for entry-level DEs is typically in the mid 20k range these days. You can't live on that. Keep in mind that when you average out salaries over the 55 (or however many) employees the council has, those few on the high end are skewing the average. The typical employee is not making 54k.

 

So yeah, FOS is a problem on a lot of levels. But the way we see it play out at the unit level is often a reflection of symptoms, not causes.

 

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