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2023 Recruiting Update


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I'm sure Sea Scouts/Venturing cost money at National.  There is some amount of insurance, some attention form leadership, etc.  If numbers keep dropping there will be a risk vs return point where BSA feels it is no longer worth the risk/cost of supporting the programs. 

BSA gets about $1M of revenue a year from them (from fees)... much of that probably goes to insurance. So in terms of fees., the number of members left provide little revenue to offset any cost.

 If they get a lot of donations backing these programs, they will last. If donors don't care much about these programs... My guess they are at risk.  So donations will really be key to keep them around long term.

I really think the future of the BSA will be based on donors.  What do individual and corporate donors want to see in a scouting program.  Looking forward to our new AI offerings ...

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With our Council's new service fee of $80/year, our Council will no longer do FOS at the unit level.  Prior to this, I had my 2 units (a Troop and a Ship) make an annual unit contribution to the Counc

In 2023, LaSalle Council (Northern Indiana, Southern Michigan) ranked second of 245 councils in membership growth (Who's on First? I dunno.) with a 21% growth rate of Cub and scouts. Female scouts inc

We have 10 Webelos from our pack visiting next week. It looks like nearly all of them intend to crossover. The crazy just keeps coming for us.

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On 11/27/2023 at 8:53 PM, yknot said:

Perhaps @malrauxwill be kind enough to post an updated number for us. I don't remember if they can do a cub breakdown, but I think they can see overall recruitment.

Sorry, I don't check this forum as often. There are some wild variations in numbers between councils, with some being up 30% and others down similarly. Not sure if the official numbers will hit 1mil by year end.

Screenshot 2023-12-06 at 7.49.16 AM.png

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Finally found some details on my council, not able to find past years, but I know that overall, the council has less youth than in past years.  Most surprising, and possibly troubling item is that Cubs are now over 2/3 of the membership.  Maybe that will mean future growth.  Another possibility is that this is where professionals and council board membership team feel the easy pickings are, so that is where the efforts are.  Less risk and more oversight in Cubs, so the safety folks are happy. 

Other interesting nuggets:

  • Equivalent of 15.5 adult volunteers per unit, which seems high.
  • 2.5 Eagle Scouts per Troop
  • Though not published about 1 council employee per 275 youth
  • SE / CEO overall compensation is about $29.50 per youth.

image.png.272d1deac1347494588f658a64a2cb5c.png

 

 

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3 hours ago, malraux said:

Sorry, I don't check this forum as often. There are some wild variations in numbers between councils, with some being up 30% and others down similarly. Not sure if the official numbers will hit 1mil by year end.

Screenshot 2023-12-06 at 7.49.16 AM.png

Thank you, Malraux. Interesting, because those numbers include rolling vs. old prorated new fall recruitment numbers that will remain valid even if they have dropped out before the end of the year.  If you think of it, would love to see this chart again in January or February to see where everything lands. 

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5 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

Most surprising, and possibly troubling item is that Cubs are now over 2/3 of the membership. 

@Jameson76 we actually had this discussion in our district. Your numbers are actually great! Experience in our council has shown that with all attrition on the Cubs level, you want at least 2 full Packs for every Troop in existence in order to cross over enough Cubs into Scouts BSA. Our district/council has seen a steady decline in Troops because they cannot get enough Cubs to cross over and retain to keep the units running. Our current split in my district is almost 50/50 and we feel it every year. This combined with slow recruiting has not been very successful.

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On 12/6/2023 at 8:11 AM, Jameson76 said:

Finally found some details on my council, not able to find past years, but I know that overall, the council has less youth than in past years.  Most surprising, and possibly troubling item is that Cubs are now over 2/3 of the membership.  Maybe that will mean future growth.  Another possibility is that this is where professionals and council board membership team feel the easy pickings are, so that is where the efforts are.  Less risk and more oversight in Cubs, so the safety folks are happy. 

Other interesting nuggets:

  • Equivalent of 15.5 adult volunteers per unit, which seems high.
  • 2.5 Eagle Scouts per Troop
  • Though not published about 1 council employee per 275 youth
  • SE / CEO overall compensation is about $29.50 per youth.

image.png.272d1deac1347494588f658a64a2cb5c.png

 

 

The number are something like 70% of scouts came out of the cubbing program. There is very little (30%) organic recruitment for troops. The focus should be on the packs, and rising tides will lift the troops. 

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COST ISN'T THE MAIN FACTOR IN LOSS OF MEMBERSHIP, POOR RECRUITMENT, POOR COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS AND POOR RETENTION DUE TO WEAK PROGRAM ALONG WITH A LACK OF LEADERS ARE THE MAIN DRIVERS OF MEMBERSHIP DECLINES. 

My son pays for my 12 year old grandson, several hundred $ per 'soccer season' and there are several 'seasons' per year. Then there are the 'away games' which can include overnight stays and it is easy for him to drop $2,000 or more in a year. We complain about the new fees and other expenses in Scouting but the program is still cost effective when compared to many other youth activities. 

True, the 'woke' crowd that painted the BSA as bigoted in the 90's and early 2000's over our leadership standards didn't help and nor did the recent negative PR over the abuse lawsuit and bankruptcy but it is time to put that all behind us and focus on getting back to the business of bringing a quality, family values program to youth and families across the nation. 

The question isn't, can we rebound? the question is can our leadership, both professional and volunteer, apply themselves to the basics of proper marketing, training, program delivery, recruiting and retention to get the job done? So far the answer is no but we have new leadership and we are out of the woods regarding the bankruptcy so hopefully we can refocus and once more start to grow. 

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3 hours ago, Ojoman said:

COST ISN'T THE MAIN FACTOR IN LOSS OF MEMBERSHIP, POOR RECRUITMENT, POOR COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS AND POOR RETENTION DUE TO WEAK PROGRAM ALONG WITH A LACK OF LEADERS ARE THE MAIN DRIVERS OF MEMBERSHIP DECLINES.

Sorry you are wrong. Cost is indeed a major factor in membership loss, especially since national no longer prorates fees to the unit recharter time. The prorated fees allowed folks to try out the program for a 1-4 month period to see if you liked the program and would remain. Asking for $105 national registration and joining fee, PLUS whatever additional fees your council added PLUS unit fees, scares off families real fast. Some council that is over $150. And that doesn't cover uniforms and activities.

THEN poor program, and lack of leaders takes effect.

I do agree that poor recruitment, specifically the inability to conduct round ups, and poor community relationships, i.e. the professionals have no clue who the superintendent is and other community leaders who could get you in the schools,  is a problem.

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3 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Cost is indeed a major factor in membership loss, especially since national no longer prorates fees to the unit recharter time.

My grandson's sports programs get paid up front... I do agree that some families may find the up front fees to be a hardship but they can put it on plastic the first time around and then budget for the next year or participate in the unit product sale. Also, a unit can give a family a month to get their paperwork together and register. Some councils have programs to assist lower income families and troops could/should have unit savings plans much like a lay away for summer camp and rechartering so families can put a bit down each meeting/week/month. That's what I did as a kid. I recall taking my weekly payment and getting it recorded each week with the ;unit treasurer/scribe. It was good practice for real life and planning for expenses by setting a little bit aside each pay. 

Where there is a will there is a way! 

However, we need to get our image back... we need Scouting to be seen for what it is, a great growth opportunity for kids along with adventure, fun, leadership, friendship and citizenship.... Scouting has been overshadowed by a lot of 'stuff' that isn't nearly as good. Scouting needs to be the competition, not shrink from the competition. 

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31 minutes ago, Ojoman said:

My grandson's sports programs get paid up front... I do agree that some families may find the up front fees to be a hardship but they can put it on plastic the first time around and then budget for the next year or participate in the unit product sale. Also, a unit can give a family a month to get their paperwork together and register.

And there a families that do not do sports for just that reason as well. As for putting it on plastic, again you have families that if it is a choice between $150 worth of food, or paying for a program your child may not be interested in after 1-2 months, food wins.

One reason I liked prorated fees, it gave families time to get money together. And sometimes packs could help out, but that was when the fees were sub $35. $150 is a lot for some units.

31 minutes ago, Ojoman said:

Some councils have programs to assist lower income families and troops could/should have unit savings plans much like a lay away for summer camp and rechartering so families can put a bit down each meeting/week/month. . That's what I did as a kid. I recall taking my weekly payment and getting it recorded each week with the ;unit treasurer/scribe. It was good practice for real life and planning for expenses by setting a little bit aside each pay. 

But not every one. Some councils are not breaking even, and others barely. As for savings plans, that helps long term, but not the immediate registration question of coming up with all the fees, sometimes over $150. Best example I comes from when I was a Scout. I crossed over in May, and was told to If I wanted to go to summer camp in 6 weeks, I needed to come up with $75 (about $214 today) get as physical, etc. And there was no way my family could come up with that fee.

But I agree budgeting is the way to go. I did just that, plus fundraising, to be able to go on trips. Once a campership was also given. But again budgeting is not the problem it is the high initial cost.

 

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

But again budgeting is not the problem it is the high initial cost.

I agree that the initial cost does hurt. Worse is when council tack on insurance and service fees. Frankly, if I was a unit leader and council wanted to do FOS I'd be sorely tempted to tell them it's one or the other... I don't like local council fees. I don't like excessive camp fees and 'training' fees. We are getting a new SE in 2 months and I intend to have a sit down with him/her and express myself on several points. The city of Syracuse is lacking for Scout Units. That's 19,000 youths with no Cub, Scout or Venture programs available to them. That is a sin. There are solutions to every problem if folks care enough to find them. 

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With our Council's new service fee of $80/year, our Council will no longer do FOS at the unit level.  Prior to this, I had my 2 units (a Troop and a Ship) make an annual unit contribution to the Council to offset our not participating in Council-organized fundraising.  We will discontinue this annual unit contribution practice as a result of the new fee.  It would be difficult for conduct a unit FOS and charge a service fee, because the FOS solicitation was always presented as a way to pay for the things the service fee now handles. 

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6 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

With our Council's new service fee of $80/year, our Council will no longer do FOS at the unit level.  Prior to this, I had my 2 units (a Troop and a Ship) make an annual unit contribution to the Council to offset our not participating in Council-organized fundraising.  We will discontinue this annual unit contribution practice as a result of the new fee.  It would be difficult for conduct a unit FOS and charge a service fee, because the FOS solicitation was always presented as a way to pay for the things the service fee now handles. 

Ours said the same thing when it increased council fees but never really actually stopped soliciting for FOS, it just became somewhat more low key about it for awhile. You'll have to see what yours does going forward. It's pretty certain that national fees are going to continue to increase. 

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1 hour ago, yknot said:

It's pretty certain that national fees are going to continue to increase. 

Fee increases were built into the settlement along with a projected increase in membership. I suspect that if membership does not grow as projected that the fee increases may be even more. It appears that our council will end the year down in membership. In two months we should have a new Scout Exec and we'll see if that makes a difference. 

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