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Need Council Approval for Applying for Grants?


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Wow, gotta love him!!

Our SPL saw a big corporation notice to apply for a small grant for funds for conservation.

As our Troop heavily engages in habitat restoration and conservation projects, our SPL filled out and submitted the online application for a grant, without discussing with Troop adults or committee.  (Love the initiative!!!)

As this is a grant, versus solicited a donation (prohibited) or unit fundraising (by selling a good or service, requiring the Unit Money Earning Application), do you believe we need LC permission to apply for the grant?

I think yes...well, at least communicating to them that this is what we are doing...

What say you experts out there??

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34427.pdf

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Well ... I learn something every day.  Our pack violated this rule every year.   

"For example: Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and leaders should not identify themselves as Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts or as a troop/pack participate in The Salvation Army’s Christmas Bell Ringing program. This would be raising money for another organization. At no time are units permitted to solicit contributions for unit programs. "

Also, BSA writing drives me crazy at times.  Intention versus explicit words.   ...  "At no time are units permitted to solicit contributions for unit programs."?   Huh?  Really?  Or was this really to read for other organizationsOr is this speaking of two different intentions.  The first that units can't fundraise for other organizations.  Second, units can't ask for donations for their own.  Instead, units should earn money; not outright gifts?  

What is BSA really trying to say?

Edited by fred8033
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As I understand the restriction, you're most specifically not supposed to go out and simply ask for money for the troop for things like equipment or to cover the cost of outings..

If the grant your SPL has applied for is conservation projects than that's not really benefitting the troop so you're probably okay.  I would however make sure your CO is okay with it since they're actually the beneficiary.

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5 hours ago, fred8033 said:

What is BSA really trying to say?

They are trying to say don't ask for money for units, because we want it at the local council level.  And, your requesting it from individuals or corporations gets in the way of them giving it to us.

Note, it says you cannot solicit (ask for) donations, but you may accept them ;)

We get donations all the time.  Every time we are doing a litter crew on the roads, someone stops and gives us a $10 or a $20.  We tell them we are not allowed to take tips or payment for community service.  When they insist, we ask if they'd like it to go to defer the cost of camp for Scouts who could use little extra help.  The answer has always been "Yes!"

32 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

If the grant your SPL has applied for is conservation projects than that's not really benefitting the troop so you're probably okay.  I would however make sure your CO is okay with it since they're actually the beneficiary.

This one will be a bit of a sticky wicket...working thru it now...will let you know how it turns out.

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16 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

What say you experts out there??

I think your SPL has done an excellent job.

12 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Well ... I learn something every day.  Our pack violated this rule every year. 

Just what rule has your pack violated?

12 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Also, BSA writing drives me crazy at times.

Only "at times?" I find it easier to tally the times the rules gave clear guidance.  They never do. I have not been able to find a definitive answer to my questions.

"When the police break the law, there is no law." -Billy Jack.  Translated to BSA-speak: "When the rule writers can't (won't) write comprehensible rules, there are no rules." 

So, as is apparent from the comments, units are "just finding their way."

I have just now come to the opinion that the BSA rules are intentionally written to be so vague that unit leaders, struggling to understand them and decide how to comply with them, fearing some "violation of BSA rules," back off any action or activity that MIGHT impinge on Local Council prerogatives (valuable things the local council wants to keep to itself to mine/capture/exploit).

What we have is MUD.

This is not a harsh judgment.  I sell words for a living.  Not just any words, the RIGHT words.  They have to have the right meaning, right sense, and clearly delineate the rules. What is to be done, by whom, and when.

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” --Mark Twain.

It is a brutal standard.  (I missed a step a way back here, and apologized and expanded my comment.)  

But for folks in the business of selling words, "Be Prepared."

So we can assume (and I do not make argument based on assumptions lightly but feel very confident here), that BSA hires smart folks-folks with the ability to write VERY CLEAR RULES-Masters of the "King's English."

And yet we do not have VERY CLEAR RULES.

"And why would that be?"  --Carson, Downtown Abbey.

It is intentional, to instill fear in unit leaders. To cause them to pause, and back off.

Fantasitical ideation you say?

Well, posters are discussing just this issue.

6 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

This one will be a bit of a sticky wicket..

And why are there not clear rules authoritatively addressing this "sticky wicket?"

Has this situation not presented itself hundreds of times-and for such a common occurrence-there is no rule?

As a distant aside, time and again, statues in my state start off with rules applying to the most unlikely situations only adding rules that apply to the most common problems later. Hello-shouldn't the FIRST rule apply to the most common/likely situation, and the minor situations be relegated to exception status somewhere buried in the statue?

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Posted (edited)

@SiouxRanger

Our former Committee Chair is a law professor at a well-known university.  (He always gave the most excellent advice and counsel.)

We would run across these vague and lacking (or sometimes contradictory, even) pieces of guidance throughout BSA literature.

I opined once that the organization simply couldn't be so incompetent and incongruous (this was during a time when we were trying to parse out YPT and Merit Badge Counselor session rules that were literally at odds with one another).

He remarked that much of this could very well be on purpose.  He told me that, sometimes, the absolute worst thing for an organization in a court case is to have a clearly written policy that they didn't follow.  They lose cases like than 9 times out of 10.

So, it could be just part of the culture.

I think it is incompetence.

When I wrote policy and regulations in the military, I had to be concise, relevant, and clear.  Then, any draft had to be approved by every other directorate within that echelon of command.  I was amazed at how much I learned and didn't realize about who else might have a stake in what you were writing.

There two major rules: 1) your policy or regulation could never be more lenient than one issued by a higher headquarters.  You could be more stringent, just never more permissive.  2) if there was a contradiction, the higher headquarters regulation overruled, or took precedence (seems obvious, but I did run across this situation a handful of times in 25+ years.)

The process was laborious; I spent a lot of time on the phones communicating with people to find out where the draft was and what was the hold up on completion and comment.  From start to finish, it usually took about two months to get something coordinated through a major headquarters.

And every rule or regulation has a designated office of primary responsibility and the name of the person in command who signed off on the regulation, for accountability and a source for whom to call if you had any questions on anything.  And, there is an internal requirement to review these every two years (although this was often not the case.) 

I could list at least five current examples of vague safety rules BSA has.  And when I have reached out to folks on committees who write these policies, I usually just get shoulder shrugs and beating around the bush about why they won't pursue changing it because it takes so long and there is no organizational impetus to do these kinds of things...

Finally, when was the last time you saw an organizational chart of the BSA "national command structure" like this??

http://thescoutpatchauction.com/blogsite/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/new-bsa-org-chart-copy.jpg

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, SiouxRanger said:

Just what rule has your pack violated?

Our cubs proudly wore their cub uniform when ringing the salvation army bell.  ... As a parent, it was a lesson.  Teaching our kids to get out in front of people.  Saying hello.  Saying thank you.  Feeling comfortable talking with people.  ... Our pack thought it was a good lesson and a good example.

From the linked PDF on fundraising rules ... "For example: Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and leaders should not identify themselves as Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts or as a troop/pack participate in The Salvation Army’s Christmas Bell Ringing program. This would be raising money for another organization."

Edited by fred8033
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4 hours ago, SiouxRanger said:

... I find it easier to tally the times the rules gave clear guidance.  ... So, as is apparent from the comments, units are "just finding their way. ...

It's not absolutist bad with documentation.  BSA does a lot pretty well.  

The problem comes in with a large repository of documents.  Written over decades.  Emphasis and concepts evolve.  Editors and authors come and go.  I'm betting often editors and authors don't even know the words are different in different documents.  

IMHO, BSA should adopt a system similar to the 2011 BSA GTA re-write for all the documentation.  Whether you agree with GTA or not, I really really am impressed with the process / system behind the GTA re-write and what's happened for now 10+ years.

  • Scheduled published corrections / upgrades
  • Broader set of authors to enable collaborative improvements
  • Emphasis with on-line publication to enable more frequent upgrades
  • Feedback process ... (contacts provided to submit issues)
  • Dated change set list ... (example at start of GTA)
  • Communication channel discussing changes (example ... BSA Advancement news)

Systematic good documentation is about putting a system in place to continually improve and resolve confusion.

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When will they ever learn?:blink:

On 5/1/2022 at 12:39 PM, InquisitiveScouter said:

... As this is a grant, versus solicited a donation (prohibited) or unit fundraising (by selling a good or service, requiring the Unit Money Earning Application), do you believe we need LC permission to apply for the grant?

I think yes...well, at least communicating to them that this is what we are doing...

What say you experts out there?? ...

Rule #1 Don't ask for a rule, you'll live to regret it.

A grant is not fundraising. A grant is a commitment to partner with an organization who might provide the necessary funds to accomplish a project but cannot itself employ all of the laborers. Son #1's eagle project was grant-funded. Son #2's was expensed as part of his church's budget. In neither case did we push fundraising paperwork.

You need to heed your LC's guidance when it comes to funds that will build your troop's treasury.

You need to heed the grant's funding agency's guidance when applying to fulfill one of their projects.

The only consideration would be if the project looks way bigger than your troop can handle. If so, loop the LC in to see if it can be done in concert with multiple troops in your district.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/2/2022 at 4:19 PM, qwazse said:

When will they ever learn?:blink:

Rule #1 Don't ask for a rule, you'll live to regret it.

A grant is not fundraising. A grant is a commitment to partner with an organization who might provide the necessary funds to accomplish a project but cannot itself employ all of the laborers. Son #1's eagle project was grant-funded. Son #2's was expensed as part of his church's budget. In neither case did we push fundraising paperwork.

You need to heed your LC's guidance when it comes to funds that will build your troop's treasury.

You need to heed the grant's funding agency's guidance when applying to fulfill one of their projects.

The only consideration would be if the project looks way bigger than your troop can handle. If so, loop the LC in to see if it can be done in concert with multiple troops in your district.

Follow up:

So, it all depends...

Grants can be tricky, depending on the IRS reporting.  In order to apply for this grant, the grantor wanted an EIN to verify we were a bona fide non-profit.

Depending on nature of the grant, grantors and grantees may incur some IRS reporting requirements as well.

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/private-foundations/grant-defined

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/private-foundations/grants-to-noncharitable-organizations

https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/private-foundations/reports-from-grantees

In this case, we asked our CO if we could use their EIN.  They gave enthusiastic permission!

However, the grantor in this case rolls up all grants to Scout units in their program.  The question was, what will they do for reporting?  If they used a single EIN, and it was either a council or national EIN, then we would need permission to accept the grant from the EIN holder.

So I corresponded with their corporate finance office, and they assured me that their reporting did not use our CO, any BSA council, or BSA national info for their filing.

When I relayed all of this to our council finance and SE, they understood they had no dog in the fight.

You do not need council permission, UNLESS the council is your CO!

Scout on!!!

btw, @qwazse I only sought their input because of a certain animosity on our council's part towards our unit and the way we do business.  Council does not appreciate it when we know and apply the rules to our advantage....which we repeatedly do 😜  But you have to know the rules!!!  Especially when it comes to money.

P.S. Reveling in, rather than regretting this one

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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