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Cubmaster Pete

Can a CO profit off a unit?

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This isn't a clear cut situation, much of it depends on the CO and the Troop leadership and membership.  

1,000 a year no strings attached is generous. 1,000 a year to to staff the CO's fundraiser? Maybe still. It's definitely within the CO's rights to ask for assistance and make the financial support contingent on support for their fundraiser. Depending on the troop size, that money covers rechartering and dues. 

The free rider principle comes into play very strongly here. If it's the same folks running this event every time, and it's mandatory, you're going to have some ticked off families. Furthermore CO's don't like being taken for granted by Scout Troops, and Scout Troops don't like being used as uncompensated (or poorly compensated) labor. 

So here's the questions I have:

  • How many Scouts in your unit?
  • How many Scouts and parents does it take to staff this fundraiser each time it's put on? 
  • How many Scouts and parents will consistently show up to the fundraiser if they are scheduled to?
  • How long is this fundraiser? It sounds like it's on a weeknight, so maybe an hour or two? That'd be ideal. 
  • Is the cookout scheduled at a reasonable time? Not too soon after school, not so late that your Scouts can't get their homework done? The dinner hour 6pm-8pm is probably ideal. 
  • How does your Troop typically get funded? Is it through fundraising? Or is your troop families well to do enough to just cut checks for everything? 
  • What other contributions to your CO does your Troop make? Does your Troop provide any other service to the CO? Or is this the first significant request they've asked for? 
  • Is there a significant amount of families that are members of this CO, or is it a "Community Troop"? 

Depending on the number of Scouts, that money could be $100 per Scout or it could be $1 per Scout. In my Troop 1k a year would be about $16.66 per Scout. That might be worth it if my (fictitious) son and I spend a few hours a year at it. But if it's an hour long fundraiser, 12 times a year, for $16 a Scout, I'd decline that.  (Yes I know $16.66 for more than a few hours is not "minimum wage." There is some value in service to others that doesn't strictly add up in dollars and cents.) If the Troop can set up a rotation of Scouts and parents to staff where everybody has to staff the event once or twice a year, that can become a pretty reasonable fundraiser. 

So do a cost benefit analysis. How many Scouts? How many people are required? How long is each event? What is the dollars per Scout? If the money doesn't line up, maybe there is another project or service your Troop can provide for that money, or maybe you let the money go, and still do some smaller service for the Troop. Whatever you decide, supportive CO's are a rare gift, so don't throw away that relationship. 

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48 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

 

  • How many Scouts in your unit?  Between the troop and pack about 40
  • How many Scouts and parents does it take to staff this fundraiser each time it's put on? 3 or 4 scouts and 2 adults
  • How many Scouts and parents will consistently show up to the fundraiser if they are scheduled to?  Not sure, have not presented it to families yet.
  • How long is this fundraiser? It sounds like it's on a weeknight, so maybe an hour or two? That'd be ideal. Couple hours
  • Is the cookout scheduled at a reasonable time? Not too soon after school, not so late that your Scouts can't get their homework done? The dinner hour 6pm-8pm is probably ideal. yes its around that time
  • How does your Troop typically get funded? Is it through fundraising? Or is your troop families well to do enough to just cut checks for everything? little of both. some familes do not fundraise, others do.
  • What other contributions to your CO does your Troop make? Does your Troop provide any other service to the CO? Or is this the first significant request they've asked for? they have asked for spring cleanup help (wooded area) but usually they don't give us enough lead time to schedule it
  • Is there a significant amount of families that are members of this CO, or is it a "Community Troop"? community troop, few are members of the CO

 

Just FYI the $1000 does not cover all of the recharter costs, which were $1900 between the pack and troop

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Events need to stay fresh.  A fun once a year event done monthly can quickly become a drag with burnt out volunteers and burnt out scouts.  Then mix in when the monthly burger night overlaps with summer camp or school break or a district camporee or ...  IMHO, it's hard enough to run a healthy troop.  

I fear someone may have seen the scouts as free labor and thought "hey we give them $1000 per year".  They don't realize it costs about $10,000 to $35,000 per year to run a strong healthy size troop and the troop has it's own program to run also.   

Plus, if $1000 per year breaks down to $85 per month --> then factor in two adults plus a strong mix of scouts so that it's scout led.  How many hours?  Assuming a three hour commitment (setup, cook, cleanup) for 7 people (two adults plus five scouts), then you are at 21 hours of labor with a $4 per hour return.  ... not to mention shopping, etc... It quickly turns the good will donation of $1000 into a less than minimum wage job. 

I'd argue the scout unit should do it once a year to say thank you to the charter org.  It's a good-will connection.  Monthly though is a job that pays bad and will quickly wear out your scouts.  

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9 hours ago, Cubmaster Pete said:

community troop, few are members of the CO

With this info, my answer would be no.  Once a year is enough payback to the CO.  The wooded area cleanup would be fair if they could schedule earlier.   More than this would burn up scout, parent and leader energy on a non core activity. 

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I certainly wouldn't be signing up to work a hotdog stand monthly unless the financial return were substantially better. I would just end up being busy those evenings, regardless of when it was.

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You're going to need about 50 scouts to do this over the course of the year.  With 40 scouts between the pack & troop, you'll probably want to ask each scout to sign up for 1 or 2 spots.  That's not an awful burden to help fund the pack.

But, I think my real question would be - do you want to do this?  As I see it, your CO is basically asking you all to be more involved in the CO's success.  We as Scouters are often commenting how uninvolved the COs are in our units.  This strikes me as an opportunity to be more engaged with the CO.  That can be a very good thing.

My recommendation would be that you think of this as an opportunity to do regular service for your CO.  Discuss with your leaders if they want to have an ongoing service project with the CO.  Make it less about the money and more about the service and about being part of the CO's community.

If you all decide to do it, I'd have an honest discussion with the head of the CO.  Basically, explain to him/her how doing something like this monthly will become a significant task for you.  Make sure he/she realizes that it will take some hard work on everyone's part to mobilize families (most of who are not members of the CO) to volunteer like this.  Make sure that this is what he/she really wants you to do.  I've found that sometimes these things seem better on paper that in reality and that often once people understand the real cost - they change their mind.

 

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While I do not have a problem being more involved with the CO, and they have been generous in the past, this really boils down to 1) they can't get their own members to show up and help with this public event and 2) they have had a few dissenters in the past about remaining our CO (been since 1940's)

They do provide a meeting space, but we choose to use a local church hall for both pack and troop meetings as it is much larger and more conducive to what we need. They do not provide storage for any gear other than space to park a small trailer.  They also provide a small campsite area.

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3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

This strikes me as an opportunity to be more engaged with the CO.  That can be a very good thing.

I agree.  But open the communication channel and find a way to manage the scouts and their commitment.  

IMHO, the original poster's situation is like popcorn in reverse.  Buying popcorn is really a donation with popcorn as a thank you.  In this case, the church is is donating $1000 to the unit, but they want 250 hours of free labor in exchange.  At that point, you can't call it a donation or gift.  

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5 hours ago, Cubmaster Pete said:

While I do not have a problem being more involved with the CO, and they have been generous in the past, this really boils down to 1) they can't get their own members to show up and help with this public event and 2) they have had a few dissenters in the past about remaining our CO (been since 1940's)

They do provide a meeting space, but we choose to use a local church hall for both pack and troop meetings as it is much larger and more conducive to what we need. They do not provide storage for any gear other than space to park a small trailer.  They also provide a small campsite area.

Understood.  I think this is one of those "lemonade from lemons" situations.  

It's been my experience in dealing with CO's that they are not terribly well versed in how to manage the Pack/CO relationship.  So, when they do nutty things (like trying to bribe the pack to help out), it helps to take a step back and ask "what are they really saying here?"

I think it's always worth strengthening the CO/Pack relationship.  If you think that the CO is asking for too big a committment, then to @fred8033's point - start a dialog and see if there is something that does work.

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Let me run this by you guys, if they give us $1000, is that a “charitable donation” as far as taxes are concerned? Or no, because theoretically they “own the units”?

 

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There is no tax implication for the reason you mentioned.  Theoreticallly it's like a church allocating $1,000 to their youth group.

 

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Beyond my pay grade, but would the unit need to fill out the unit fundraising form for each event?

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59 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

There is no tax implication for the reason you mentioned.  Theoreticallly it's like a church allocating $1,000 to their youth group.

 

Thanks, that clears up a lot.

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I worked thru college.  One of my jobs was as a cook in a German restaurant. Because my "language du college" was German, I got a multiple benefit:  Money per hour, uben mein Deutsch,  at least one free meal , practice in cooking,  learning some new cuisine, new friends and some good references.  The restaurant owners were good people and I felt grateful for their opportunity to me.   

This is admittedly different, but a review of benefits for the Scouts might be beneficial. Cooking and selling food:::   Show gratitude to and  Cooperate with CO, check.  Help with their finances (do they need help?) check.  Work responsibility and experience serving the public (is it public?) check. MAYBE a free meal (negotiate that  ?) maybe check.  Learn new skills and responsibilities,  I bet check.   Might be fun.

I remember staffing the soda and dog stand at our high school football and b-ball games as a Key Clubber. I didn't get any pay from that, but it financed the sports and Key Club activities.  Why'd I do that?  All these years later, I realize I was following my mom and dad's example of "doing for others" thru their work in the PTA, Lions Club,  Hospital Bazaar, lots of places.  

My Scout Troop helped out regularly at the church suppers, busing tables, directing the parking lot.  Come to think of it, they didn't let us cook....  did they know something we didn't? 

Your Scouts need opportunities to hike, camp,  earn bling and recognition, and learn by the adult's example of service to others.  What is it your CO is known for, anything specific?  Is it a church, or service club or vet's organization or....   The CO has seen fit to support and sponsor a Scout Unit (or two or three?) .   Are you fulfilling YOUR responsibility in making their investment in your Unit worth their while in your Scout activities?   Perhaps every other month serve the sausages...   Make the schedule.... Have the talk....  

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