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OXCOPS

Council Money Management Concerns.....

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Hey folks. I have yet another question to bounce off of you. As some of you might remember, I have been the COPE coordinator for my council for a little over a year. I am in the process of building our program back up to where it has been in the past.

 

Our course is a little different than most. Of all the courses we do, around 75% of them are for non-scout groups. This allows us to charge scout groups VERY little to use the course as funds are made with the school and corporate groups.

 

Now, on to the problems at hand. We are in the process of making required upgrades to the course, including building two new low course elements. However, the council (which is operating "in the red" financially) is not going to pay for the lumber and materials (no more than $1400 total). Labor will be provided FREE.

 

When I asked about all the money that COPE generated through our courses over the past year, I can't get an answer. I know though my records that COPE made enough to purchase the materials with some left over. But, when I try to get that money back from the council, I'm told that the council doesn't have the funds to pay for it.

 

We also asked to have a seperate account set up in the council office for COPE funds, but they refused. I do not see what is so hard about having a ledger sheet that shows how much COPE is bringing in and taking out. The money can stay in the general fund, just as long as we can get it when we need it rather than have the council spend it somewhere else. It is not COPE's fault the council is having money problems. It is also not our responsibility to bail them out either.

 

My apologies for tossing in a healthy scoop of complaining, but I am at my wits end. I feel like the council put me in a boat(COPE) that is full of holes and wants me to paddle the Mississippi. Then, when I mention the holes, they give me a strainer to bail the water.

 

I am honestly trying to make this program succeed, but we must have the backing of our council. I have a fund raising program ready to go that has the potential to make the course over $15,000. But, I am not going to get that kind of money coming in only to be told that I can't use it.

 

Is there anything I can do to try to get some of the money COPE made to pay for COPE course expenses?

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You seem to want the COPE course treated as a separate entity within the council budget and that is unlikely to happen. Monies generated by activity fees, camp fees, golf outings, popcorn, FOS, and other income areas of the council all go to the general fund. From there they are distributed according to the priorities set by the Council Executive Board. That is just the nature of Non-profits. There may or may not be a line item for COPE fees. It is possible that it is bundled in with camp usage fees.

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I guess the thing that gets me is that other groups in the council, such as OA, have custodial accounts with the council. The reason they get one (as explained by the professionals) is that they make a "nice" cash donation to the council at the end of the year. Also, there are many "bigwig" volunteers in our OA, who the council won't say "no" to.

 

So, what you are saying is that if I start our fund raising efforts for our course (corporate sponsorship, etc.) that money can legally be used for other ventures by the council according to BSA policies? That doesn't make alot of sense to me.

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While I feel your pain, the fact is that the council just hasn't got the money.

At times we all feel that whatever we are doing is the most important thing and needs to be treated as something special.

When I was Day Camp Director, we made money every year but this balance wasn't carried over to the next year. We hosted a Wood Badge course last year. I was training chairman at the time and I made my case to the Executive Board for $5,000.00 for new equipment for Training. I didn't get a penny!! We made a little over $3,000.00 on the course and along the way managed to get a photocopier worth about $2,000.00 donated to the council. This year the new Training Chair. made his case to the board and again came away empty handed. Again this year money is tight and cuts have to be made and money has to be spent where it will do the most good. Councils and the BSA as a whole is facing rising health care costs for the employees, as well as just plain old overhead costs.

For many years I owned and operated a couple of small restaurants.The real money was made in the bar. However without the food service operation drink sales would go down. While I looked at the operating costs of the bar and the kitchen, at the end of the day I looked at the entire operation as a whole.

Eamonn

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OA is not the same. The COPE course is a function of the camp. A better comparison is camping fees. Camping fees do not all go back to the camp, they go into the general fund.

 

 

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Eammon, my man...How can you justify making $3000 profit on a Wood Badge course? (or did I misunderstand your post?) The way I was taught to do event planning, your registration fee is set to cover a good faith estimate of expenses. No more, no less, +/- . Realizing, of course, that no event will come in exactly on the money, but it should be pretty close. If I were a participant and knew that my training fee was inflated to cover other expenses, such as a copy machine, I would be outraged. My council already charges us trainers 9 cents per copy, which should cover the amortized cost of the machine. I normally just go to Kinkos' which is more convenient.

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nldscout-

 

For the past two years, we have put this stuff in the budget. But, they are always cut out during the budget meetings with little, or no, discussion. So, we are left with the problem of making BSA-required upgrades and repairs, but have no money to do it with. The council tells us what a worthwhile cause it is and that they are glad people are putting forth the effor to further develop it, but will not pony up when the time comes. Just getting tired of hearing that we need to do this and that, but when it comes time to do it, they can't find the funds.

 

And, yes I know that COPE is not the most important thing in the council. If it was, then money wouldn't be a problem. ;)

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OXCOPS,

 

If the upgrades you are seeking are for safety related issues, I would be inclined to be very forthcoming with the council. Let them know that unless certain items are upgraded, you will not put youth and other participants at risk and will be forced to shut down portions of the course or maybe the entire course. Then do it if the money doesn't come.

 

If the upgrades are to expand the course and make it better, well the best you may be able to do is make the best argument you can and let the chips fall. The council (in theory) sets it's financial priorities based on what it sees as best for scouts in the council. If 75% of the participants in the course are non-scouts, they may not see it as a high scout priority and are satified with the course the way it is.

 

In anycase I certainly applaud your efforts and wish you luck.

 

SA

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scoutingagain-

 

I guess I should have mentioned that approach. The SE has said that he has no problems closing the COPE course. Although he says he is behind it, it is only in spirit. I think that volunteer pressure is the only reason he hasn't closed it yet.

 

As for the course work, it is mandatory work that must be done to comply with BSA standards. If it was elective work, I would not even ask. However, I am betweena rock and a hard place. We have camp inspection in June. Since this includes COPE, the work has to be done by then--or else.

 

One thing that the SE does like about our program is that we hold courses for dirt cheap for scouting groups. This is made possible by the fees charged to corporate groups when they come for a course. He likes the idea of having it very cost effective for scouts. Despite all of this, we are still able to make money for the council. I just think that if we are putting some money in, we should be able to get some money out. We are only asking for %15 of what we made in profit over the past year. They can have the other 85%. Personally, I don't think that is an unresonable request. Or is it?

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OXCOPS,

 

No I don't think you're being unreasonable at all, based on what you've told us. Unfortunately I don't set the budget priorties for your council.

 

Unfortunately, once in a while you have to let it hit the fan, for folks to take notice. In your case, I would rather have "it" be the closing of the course for a season rather than a serious injury.

 

I personally hope you get the money you need.

 

SA

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" We are only asking for %15 of what we made in profit over the past year. They can have the other 85%. Personally, I don't think that is an unresonable request. Or is it?"

 

Not in my mind but probably in the minds of the pooh-bahs. I've seen many organizations take all revenue and mix it into the big pot for everyone to dip into. Usually, one or two programs are the big revenue producers but they don't get any extra consideration when it comes to funding requests. At some point things get critical and the big money maker gets shut down for lack of money and then everyone cries because the pot of money dries up.

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You're expecting way too much logic and business sense from a non-profit, FOG.

That's why my council thinks it makes good economic, financial and strategic planning sense to sell a one of a kind piece of real estate (camp) to get funding that they say they will use to keep up the other real estate (camps) and also rent out facilities to replace the one they sold.

Selling your house so you can rent an apartment.....financial planners always recommend that.

OXCOPS, keep bringing it up. Ultimately, squeaky wheels get oiled.(This message has been edited by Marty_Doyle)

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