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What percentage of fundraising do you give back to the Friends of Scouting program?


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I appreciate all of the replies. I was more curious about the nuances of the campaign (but I'm sure it varies widely by council).

I plan on making a token FOS contribution (but probably not the full $401 the council requests). Our DE seems like a nice guy and has been very responsive. However, I already self-fund most of my Den's activities - at least I can be sure that goes 100% to program.

When I review my council's annual report, I see roughly 8% of their income comes from FOS and 20% from Popcorn. However, the council also lists fundraising as one of its largest expenses (so it's not clear exactly how much they net from these two activities). I also think they deliberately obfuscate how much is being spent on staff salaries because they list "Management" as a large expense, but this number (~ $300,000) seems too small to cover a large professional staff. I think this is likely for Insurance, as well as Audit and Accounting Services. The staff salaries are probably hidden in "Program Services," which is by far the largest expense.

But hey, I don't mean to knock the entire professional corp. There are a lot of good folks out there.

 

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Welcome @MattySchnides! Zero percent!!!!!!!! And the DE response is laughable.🤣 Units do not exist to provide a cash cow for the council. Give them zero and ignore any other corres

When we stopped doing popcorn as unit fundraisers simply because sales were declining, we pursued other fundraisers and then still gave council/FOS a modest lump sum from each unit. It was generally a

Rather than give any money to the council I'd suggest going to one of the camps, ask them what they need that's worth about $250 and go buy it for them. They will be thankful. Do not give them the mon

22 hours ago, BetterWithCheddar said:
  • I have an FOS flyer from my youth asking for $129 (the cost to support 1 scout for 1 year). Mentally, I was preparing to make a donation of around $200. Now I see the campaign is asking for $401 (the cost to support 1 scout for 1 year in 2023). What the heck happened there?

I remember regularly stopping at McDonald's on the way back from Scout trips in my youth, and I could buy a cheeseburger for 89¢. I haven't been back to McDonald's much since, but we stopped in at one again on the way back from a recent outing with my Tiger Cub. A simple cheeseburger was $2.29! What happened there?

We all know what happened. Inflation. Everything costs more than it did when we were kids. This should not be a surprise.

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45 minutes ago, seattlecyclone said:

We all know what happened. Inflation. Everything costs more than it did when we were kids. This should not be a surprise.

No doubt, that's the biggest driver. 

Over 25 years, it would be reasonable to expect Inflation to cause prices levels to double. Yet, the FOS amount in my council has tripled during that same time. I suspect membership has declined without commensurate cuts in professional staff or facilities (thus leading to a higher cost per scout).

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4 hours ago, BetterWithCheddar said:

I appreciate all of the replies. I was more curious about the nuances of the campaign (but I'm sure it varies widely by council).

I plan on making a token FOS contribution (but probably not the full $401 the council requests). Our DE seems like a nice guy and has been very responsive. However, I already self-fund most of my Den's activities - at least I can be sure that goes 100% to program.

Give what you can and feel comfortable with. The majority of folks donate nothing, at least when I did FOS presentations, (maybe I just sucked at them.)

17 minutes ago, BetterWithCheddar said:

No doubt, that's the biggest driver. 

Over 25 years, it would be reasonable to expect Inflation to cause prices levels to double. Yet, the FOS amount in my council has tripled during that same time. I suspect membership has declined without commensurate cuts in professional staff or facilities (thus leading to a higher cost per scout).

Probably. I know my council's budget got really out of whack when the United Way stopped donating. 

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2 minutes ago, BetterWithCheddar said:

No doubt, that's the biggest driver. 

Over 25 years, it would be reasonable to expect Inflation to cause prices levels to double. Yet, the FOS amount in my council has tripled during that same time. I suspect membership has declined without commensurate cuts in professional staff or facilities (thus leading to a higher cost per scout).

The CPI has increased 1.8x in the past 25 years. That's far from the only measure of inflation though. College tuition has increased more than 3x over this time period, while other things have increased slower than the CPI.

Discrepancies of this type are described by the Baumol effect. Service-heavy industries such as universities and medicine (and Scouting administration) increase in price faster than overall inflation.

The average college lecturer is teaching about the same number of students as decades ago. Their productivity hasn't increased much, but their pay needs to keep up with wages offered in industries that have increased in productivity through greater automation, else college professors would leave to go write software or manage a factory or do something else that has benefited from these productivity gains. 

Same goes for Scouting. Have technological advances allowed one district professional to manage significantly more program activities than decades ago? If not, you should be unsurprised that this cost has increased faster than the CPI. This goes double if the number of Scouts has decreased over that time. While certain tasks do scale with the number of youth served, there's a certain amount of fixed overhead as well.

All of this isn't to say that we shouldn't examine council spending with a critical eye to judge whether they're a top priority for our charitable dollar. We can and should! Just don't be surprised to find that there's no more "fat" to cut than there was in our youth, and costs have increased faster than the CPI anyway. Labor (people) increase in cost faster than things do.

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2 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

Give what you can and feel comfortable with. The majority of folks donate nothing, at least when I did FOS presentations, (maybe I just sucked at them.)

That's hardly your fault. Everyone has a finite amount of money they're comfortable giving each year. Many on this forum have been positively impacted by Scouting and give a disproportionate amount of their funds to the BSA. But for your average parent, this is one of a half-dozen activities in which their family currently participates. 

 

2 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

Probably. I know my council's budget got really out of whack when the United Way stopped donating. 

You raise a good point. I hadn't considered the United Way impact. My council's annual report lists the United Way as providing 1% of total revenue. I'm sure that was higher at one point.

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When our Council tried to shaft our Pack with bogus "late fees" on a family camp that amounted to an effective doubling of the registration fees, I talked to a number of parents who had pledged money to Friends of Scouting that year and said we should all write a letter to the Council and tell them that since they saw fit to try to screw our pack over, then we would just donate our pledged amounts to the Pack that year. Our Council has really dropped the ball the last couple of years. My family and I had given sizable donations to Friends of Scouting in the past, but after those shenanigans and the fact that the Council Executive couldn't even be bothered to send us a personal "Thank you" note, we donated $0 last year. Since then, the way our family has been treated by that Pack (we switched to a new Pack) and the Council, my interest in donating or volunteering has plummeted to ZERO. 

 

The Packs already sell LOTS of popcorn, and about 30% of those sales go to the Council. If a Pack and the unpaid all-volunteer parents take initiative to come up with another fundraiser and raise thousands for their Troop, they don't owe the Council anything. The reaction of that DE to receive $250 when it's absolutely NOT required and show so much ungratefulness was truly appalling. Next time, send them a check for $0.00 and attach a copy of his ungrateful response and say that since their response was so disappointing last time, this is what they get this time. 

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14 minutes ago, seattlecyclone said:

Discrepancies of this type are described by the Baumol effect. Service-heavy industries such as universities and medicine (and Scouting administration) increase in price faster than overall inflation.

This is an extremely interesting premise because it seems to help explain many of the large cost spikes of the past 20 years (health care, college tuition, etc.).

Maybe I'm just not following 100%, but are you suggesting that over time, wages seem to get dragged upward by industries experiencing high productivity growth (software development, for example)? But then how do you reconcile the fact that many politicians would have us believe wages have not kept up with inflation over the long run? (I'm genuinely curious)

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11 minutes ago, Delphinus said:

When our Council tried to shaft our Pack with bogus "late fees"....

 

I know of units that this happen to in regards to popcorn. The council was not accepting returns, despite saying they would, and charged the units for the unsold popcorn they said they would accept back. In some cases they charges the unit accounts at the Scout office and would not refund the money they took. Most of the units no longer do popcorn as a result, nor do they use unit accounts at the office anymore.

 

11 minutes ago, Delphinus said:

If a Pack and the unpaid all-volunteer parents take initiative to come up with another fundraiser and raise thousands for their Troop, they don't owe the Council anything.

We had one unit go through the Money Earning Application process for a fundraiser, and the council would not approve it unless they got a cut. I do not remember how much, but it was in the range of 10%  - 25%. Long story short, the  CO's Men's club had a fundraiser, and paid the Scouts to work it.

As for FOS donations, another unit was given a quota to raise. That Unit has a lot of kids on some type of assistance and received help from the CO. One of the Scouters was thinking about seeing if the troop could pay the quota for everyone. But after one of the  former Scouters, who was then on the district level, was verbally abused by the professional staff, word got around and the committee said "NO!"

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3 hours ago, BetterWithCheddar said:

Maybe I'm just not following 100%, but are you suggesting that over time, wages seem to get dragged upward by industries experiencing high productivity growth (software development, for example)? 

That does seem to be Baumol's effect in a nutshell, yes.

Quote

But then how do you reconcile the fact that many politicians would have us believe wages have not kept up with inflation over the long run? (I'm genuinely curious)

Every year that inflation exists and Congress doesn't increase the minimum wage it's true that minimum-wage workers fell behind a little bit. However on the other hand it seems that median-wage workers' wages tend to trend upward in CPI-adjusted dollars. Over time those wages have tended to be able to purchase more goods and fewer services.

Whether wages in general go slightly up or down in inflation-adjusted terms is not the main point here however. The point is that all industries are trying to attract labor from the same human population. The industries that are able to reduce their labor needs year after year will generally be able to see slower price increases than industries that are unable to do this.

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On 2/19/2023 at 7:02 PM, Delphinus said:

And meanwhile, parents are urged to get out there and sell, sell, sell (I hear this in Randolph and Mortimer Duke's voices) more popcorn. The Pack we used to be in heavily urged us to sell popcorn rather than just pay our dues. The "Popcorn Colonel" let slip last year that ~40% of the sale proceeds go to the Pack and ~30% go to the council. So selling $750 to cover all of the $225 dues actually meant that Pack got $300 from all that free labor. Then, we always had the hard sell of "Friends of Scouting" at the Blue & Gold each year to look forward to. Apparently, Packs that schedule that "presentation" get a streamer to put on their flag. 

We tell our Cubs to sell, sell, sell because I'd rather spread the cost of Scouting across the community than pull it from the parents' bank account.  Realistically, even with the 30% commission going to the Scout, it only takes about 4 to 6 hours at Lowes to make the Scout $1000 in commission.  That covers their dues, national and council fees, camping, uniforms, and a bit left over for some high quality camping gear.  My kids both have Big Agnes sleeping bags and air mattresses with $0 coming from our family's accounts.  

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3 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

We tell our Cubs to sell, sell, sell because I'd rather spread the cost of Scouting across the community than pull it from the parents' bank account.  Realistically, even with the 30% commission going to the Scout, it only takes about 4 to 6 hours at Lowes to make the Scout $1000 in commission.  That covers their dues, national and council fees, camping, uniforms, and a bit left over for some high quality camping gear.  My kids both have Big Agnes sleeping bags and air mattresses with $0 coming from our family's accounts.  

You can sell at Lowes? We reached out to do a fundraiser at 2 of them nearby and they told us they don't allow them anymore as a corporate policy.

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1 minute ago, nolesrule said:

You can sell at Lowes? We reached out to do a fundraiser at 2 of them nearby and they told us they don't allow them anymore as a corporate policy.

Doesn't seem to be a consistent thing.  The Lowe's closest to our Pack pretty much ghosted us when we asked for permission.  Meanwhile, the 4 other Lowe's in the council, including one in our district, were cool with it and were listed on the TE shift manager.  We had to drive 30 minutes to get there, but it was like a tobacco auction until the good popcorn ran out.  

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4 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

Doesn't seem to be a consistent thing.  The Lowe's closest to our Pack pretty much ghosted us when we asked for permission.  Meanwhile, the 4 other Lowe's in the council, including one in our district, were cool with it and were listed on the TE shift manager.  We had to drive 30 minutes to get there, but it was like a tobacco auction until the good popcorn ran out.  

Lowe's corporate HQ is literally 10 minutes outside our council borders. I wonder if the stores were just giving us a line.

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5 minutes ago, nolesrule said:

Lowe's corporate HQ is literally 10 minutes outside our council borders. I wonder if the stores were just giving us a line.

I'm betting it's up to the local GM.  The ones where we sold a couple of years ago is an Eagle Scout.  He's since moved on, and we got rejected, or at least, ignored.

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