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Cburkhardt

Positive Council Changes during Financial Reorganization

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Even in rich suburbs the fees are starting to get laughs.  When my daughter joined a GSUSA Troop the parents were asking about fees.  The GSUSA rep said they were not set yet as the Troop sets their own fee (I think GSUSA charges $25).  One parent asked if total would be under $100.  The GSUSA (and parents laughed) and said... “of course!  we are not the Boy Scouts.”  We haven’t paid much since (and no FOS begging) given cookie sales.

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Let’s bring a tight focus on today’s discussion.  How people and organizations choose to spend money almost always expresses their actual values and priorities.  National financial reorganization and the related financial tightening that will intensify at councils will cause such values and priorities to come forth directly.  A theme coming through regularly is that many do not believe councils are sufficiently responsive or accountable to their volunteers.  Those volunteers are represented by CORs — according to the governance model.  Another theme is that the COR role is either absent or otherwise ineffective as a means to create responsiveness or cause accountability.  The current financial behavior trend seems to be lessened support by units and members of the council structure.  $30/year is viewed as unacceptable by many, even though is is minimal compared to the cost of even a single school activity or modest event.  This, in an environment where families spend thousands on other youth activities not having nearly the same lifelong positive impacts of Scouting.

This demonstrates a fundamental dissstisfaction with or rejection of the nature of councils with some commenters.  I ask commenters to state what current services provided locally they believe are either unnecessary or inappropriate. Also, are there any essential services you believe are required to be provided locally?  Finally, would you fund those services?

My view is that a program fee should be collected to fund field-based executive services, district volunteer operations, essential unit operations training and maintenance of a summer camp operated to serve a large geographic territory.

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Examples for elimination.

Current program functions not directly serving unit or district operations might be eliminated as council responsibilities and either discontinued or spun-off to exterior volunteer organizations that could be licensed to raise their own funds and conduct program.  This would include OA, Wood Badge, council-wide service projects, council product sales and events of every description other than district Camporees.  Those exterior groups would not be subsidized with funds or staff assistance.

Council fund raising operations might be eliminated, because council budgets and operations would be constrained by camp fees, annual program fees and potential subsidies from previous endowments.

Council support services might be entirely eliminated.  There would be no more council events (Eagle Scout or Silver Beaver recognition dinners, OAlodge banquets) or service projects to promote or coordinate.

Council service centers might be sold, because they would no longer be needed and there would be insufficient funding to operate them.  Scout shops stocking unit supporting items operated by national could find a modest strip mall space and DEs and their managers could operate out of their homes or modest surroundings.

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Councils exist for one purpose:  To promote and expand the national Scouting program by helping Scout units succeed.  Helping units succeed can include a variety of tasks, such as --

  • Providing campgrounds for unit outings
  • Providing summer camp programs and other activities and events to enrich unit programs 
  • Providing training to develop unit volunteer skills and knowledge
  • Providing fundraising programs to help units pay for activities, equipment, and supplies
  • Providing marketing materials to units to assist with recruiting drives
  • Providing Council-wide service projects in which units can participate
  • Facilitating things like registrations, approvals, and certifications for units and unit members where required by law or by the national program
  • Promoting Scouting to individuals and organizations who can contribute resources that the Council can use to help units succeed
  • Maintaining relationships with chartered organizations that sponsor Scouting units and developing relationships with organizations who could sponsor new units

It is important to note that, from the perspective of units, there is an actual need only for a few of such Council programs or services.  Units, volunteers, and families may find varying degrees of value to those Council programs.  Units may feel more or less independent and self-sufficient, and may not see a need for or benefit from those programs or services - just the expense and the annoyance of Council always hitting them up for something.

Where Councils go astray is when (1) the burdens they ask (or demand) that units undertake (paperwork, money, and manpower) outweigh the value provided, as perceived by the units; or (2) they forget that their entire existence is for the purpose of helping units, and begin to believe that they have an independent and unquestionable value and purpose. 

As part of their strategic or annual planning, Councils should go through an exercise where they (A) list all of their programs, activities, events, and other expenses, then show how each one provides (B) some clear, obvious assistance to units.  If they can't get from (A) to (B) within two steps, or can't easily identify a (B) connected to an (A), a Council is going to have a hard time justifying that program, activity, event, or expense to volunteers and families.  Any new "great idea" for a Council initiative or program should be put to that same test.

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I just read that, in my state, the Democrat-controlled stage legislature is pushing forward a bill that will raise the state-wide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and our liberal Governor is sure to sign it.  No mention of exemptions.  Wonder what this will do to the Council budgets who will now have to double the salaries of the DEs and pay a teen camp staffer for a full 40 hours a week, plus overtime?

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8 minutes ago, scoutldr said:

I just read that, in my state, the Democrat-controlled stage legislature is pushing forward a bill that will raise the state-wide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and our liberal Governor is sure to sign it.  No mention of exemptions.  Wonder what this will do to the Council budgets who will now have to double the salaries of the DEs and pay a teen camp staffer for a full 40 hours a week, plus overtime?

In most states, the over-arching minimum wage laws specifically exempt seasonal work; which is why there are often separate, specific bills addressing field-worker pay.  They also exempt seasonal workers from most overtime provisions.

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33 minutes ago, scoutldr said:

 Wonder what this will do to the Council budgets who will now have to double the salaries of the DEs and pay a teen camp staffer for a full 40 hours a week, plus overtime?

Almost all Professionals are salaried, exempt employees.  That's why we work insane hours. 

District Associates are the only Professionals who are hourly. 

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I went and read the bill...summer camps are specifically exempt.  In fact, there are so many exemptions now, it's all meaningless.

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This topic is a good example of the problems that councils have to come to grips with.  It is not clear who a councils "customers" are and who they need to demonstrate value to.  A councils customers are different from it's governance structure.  National, Council boards, CORs they provide the guidance in how services as delivered, but they are not the customers.

For a long time, a council's customers were donors.  The council needed to demonstrate they were doing work to make Scouting prosper in the community so that more donations could be collected and fund the council for another year.  They were selling the promise and delivery of Scouting in the community.  They delivered the program in the way they beat thought possible to make Scouting thrive.  Usually this aligned with focusing on units - but not always. 

Now, councils are starting to look to parents for funding.  This makes parents the customers.  This is a new dynamic- one that requires a different value proposition - one that is most probably focused on program delivery to Scouts and units.  The problem is that today we are often now compelling people to pay, but not delivering and articulating the value.  This leads to terms like freeloader and unit tax.  

I believe that successful councils will adjust by:

- communicating better so that everyone knows what they are doing

- increasing programming options

- increased focus on utilizing council facilities by units

- renewed focus on membership so that there are more scouta to collect fees from.

- improvements in efficiency to reduce the cost of business

- examination of the personnel  costs to the council and a push to extract more value from their expenses.  

I think councils that start cutting back will im turn be the ones that struggle.

 

Edited by ParkMan
typos
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1 hour ago, carebear3895 said:

District Associates are the only Professionals who are hourly. 

Wait, theres a position under DE in the org chart? How many people work in some of these councils?

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13 minutes ago, malraux said:

Wait, theres a position under DE in the org chart? How many people work in some of these councils?

Larger councils that are able to fool unsuspecting people into take DA jobs.  Only council that I've met that used them is Northern Star in Minnesota. 

Edited by carebear3895

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I am going to take this point by point as an example of what some councils are not doing or are poorly doing.

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

  • Providing campgrounds for unit outings

Sadly some council camps are not being maintained, despite the willingness of volunteers to provide free labor.

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Providing summer camp programs and other activities and events to enrich unit programs 

Where to begin on this one.  I've seen some summer camps be "merit badge mills" will poor program, and everyone on the roster, even if they didn't show up, get the merit badge. I have seen camps that did not have enough supplies for the Scouts, i.e. basketry kits, wood carving kits, carving knives, paddles, etc. With the basketry shortage, Scouts were "sharing kits" each working on half of the project. Worse was the aquatics staff not having enough canoes to take a full class out on the water at one time. But the absolute worst was the lack of undamaged  rescue tubes at the pool. One camp did not have a single undamaged rescue tube by the end of the second week. thank goodness I had the old 'hand to hand combat" lifeguard course that taught rescues without equipment. One tube came off the leash and shot away  while I was doing an active victim skills checkoff. can you imagine what could have happened if it was for real.

 

Also that same camp didn't have enough staff to run an adequate program.  Kinda sad when you are relying on a specific number of BSA Lifeguard candidates to meet the safety regs.

 

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Providing training to develop unit volunteer skills and knowledge

IOLS and BALOO are few and far between. And there is a heavy emphasis of doing online training. Which in a rural area can cause problems. He had one person take over 4 hours to download and do YPT2.1 We had to beg to get the syllabus and do live class YPT2.1.

 

 

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Providing fundraising programs to help units pay for activities, equipment, and supplies

let's face it, popcorn is overpriced.

 

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Providing marketing materials to units to assist with recruiting drives

What marketing materials?  My district has lost so much membership because of lack of recruiting, we are down to 3 packs and 7 troops. When volunteers want to do their own recruiting, we are told NO.

 

 

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Providing Council-wide service projects in which units can participate
  • Facilitating things like registrations, approvals, and certifications for units and unit members where required by law or by the national program

I will give credit where due. They are doing this.

 

 

2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:
  • Promoting Scouting to individuals and organizations who can contribute resources that the Council can use to help units succeed
  • Maintaining relationships with chartered organizations that sponsor Scouting units and developing relationships with organizations who could sponsor new units

NO. When volunteers come forward, they either get overwhelmed and burned out, or every time they try to do something, they are told no. And sometimes it is both. Pros are not listening to the volunteers and COs.

 

Sad thing is that it wasn't always like this. SEs set the tone.

 

 

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33 minutes ago, malraux said:

 How many people work in some of these councils?

Please be more specific.  Are you asking how many are employed, or how many work?

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