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Q-and-A with Boy Scout councils

Published August 6, 2011 7:48 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This is the written response from the Boy Scouts to questions from The Salt Lake Tribune about Friends of Scouting drives in Utah. (Submitted by Kay Godfrey, director of support services for the Great Salt Lake Council, on behalf of all councils in Utah.)

1) For each council, what are the dates for your Friends of Scouting drive?

The dates for the Friends of Scouting drive vary by council. The Great Salt Lake Council typically runs its Friends of Scouting drive from August to September. The Trapper Trails Council uses a phased approach, running the campaign in about 75% of council districts from February through May and the remaining districts in September through November. The Utah National Parks Council hosts a fall drive during the month of September.

2) For the Great Salt Lake Council, why is the 2012 drive for the Great Salt Lake Council held in 2011? Is it called that because it is raising money for the 2012 calendar year?

Yes. The Friends of Scouting campaign conducted in the fall is in preparation for the next year. It would not make good business sense to borrow money during the first three quarters of the year in anticipation of funds raised in the fall. While many councils raise money during winter and spring of the year in which the donations are used, the Great Salt Lake Council feels a preemptive method allows their executive board to more effectively develop and approve a budget because they are able to better anticipate available funds.

3) For each council, what are the goals for making contacts through FOS? Is it to contact each home in each LDS Ward boundary? If so, what role, if any, do non-LDS units have in the FOS drive?

The goal of Friends of Scouting is to give the opportunity for everyone in the community to support the Scouting program. Many people in every community benefit from the positive effects of the Scouting program and should be given the opportunity to help ensure the future of Scouting. The LDS Church has a long history of collaboration with the BSA and has adopted Scouting as their program for male youth. Each chartering organization has the opportunity to organize their support of Scouting in a manner that best fits their organization.

4) For each council, why is the FOS drive done differently here than the usual national model for family FOS drives of just asking scouting families to donate, which is often done in a pack or troop meeting (often using a presentation by a council employee or representative)? Could you tell me how the current system evolved here, including how long the current model has been used? Is this model used elsewhere to your knowledge?

The goal of Friends of Scouting is to give the opportunity for everyone in the community to support the Scouting program. Many people in every community benefit from the positive effects of the Scouting program and should be given the opportunity to help ensure the future of Scouting. The BSA provides a template that can be used to help organize their FOS campaign but every council customizes the template to best meet the needs of their community. The methods for the Utah councils were developed jointly by the BSA and LDS Church and are structured very similarly to other councils across the country.

5) For each council, what is the suggested minimum donation that you are seeking of each household through FOS this year (or sought this year)? Could you explain the reason for that amount (such as it costs a certain amount per boy to run scouting, etc.)?

Again, the goal of Friends of Scouting is to give the opportunity for everyone in the community to support the Scouting program. Many people in every community benefit from the positive effects of the Scouting program and should be given the opportunity to help ensure the future of Scouting. Every contribution to FOS is meaningful and we accept donations of any denomination. Suggested donations vary by council and are based on what is needed to best serve the Scouts in each area, but this is by no means a requirement.

Currently, local Utah headquartered councils proudly administer the Scouting program to more than 200,000 young people in 29 counties across the state and in neighboring states. FOS funds are used to keep the costs of camps affordable, keep all facilities in top condition and maintain the promise of a quality Scouting experience for all participants. Some of these funds are also allocated to support underprivileged and underrepresented communities, giving youth in those areas the opportunity to participate is the Scouting program.

It is important to note that all donations raised through FOS stay in the local council. The local Utah councils are committed to providing the finest Scouting program possible for each Scout. To do this, they rely on support from our friends of Scouting and the community at large.

6) For each council, I see that instructional materials contain suggested letters from LDS stake presidents or bishops to their congregation. Did that come from the church, the scouts or a combination of the two?

These letters are jointly developed between the BSA and LDS leaders. The BSA provides a template that is available and used by most councils nationally and LDS leaders have the opportunity to personalize and customize the materials prior to distribution to better serve local needs.

7) For each council, does involving church leaders such as bishops or stake presidents in soliciting donations make this more than a mere voluntary donation – and perhaps make it appear to be a requirement of active members? Why or why not?

The goal of Friends of Scouting is to give the opportunity for everyone in the community to support the Scouting program. Many people in every community benefit from the positive effects of the Scouting program and should be given the opportunity to help ensure the future of Scouting. While Church leaders oversee and support FOS, they do not solicit donations. The Church supports the FOS drive by providing an opportunity for members to contribute, but there are no donation requirements.

8) For each council, I see that reporting for units is often done through church lines rather than scouting lines. For example, wards give money collected to their stakes, instead of troops giving money to districts. Why is that done that way?

The LDS Church and BSA have a long-standing history of working together to build the character and integrity of Utah's youth. Scouting is a youth-serving program within the LDS Church and each unit is owned by the Church. Because of this strong relationship, Church structure frequently aligns with BSA structure so the flow of contributions really doesn't matter. Those contributions in the end go to helping ensure the positive effects of Scouting in the Church and community. This is just one example of the many ways the BSA collaborates with the LDS Church in order to serve the greater good.

9) For each council, how are overall monetary goals or targets for FOS set at the council, district, stake and ward levels? (I note that I found online for the Francis Peak District in the Trapper Trails Council a FOS page that tracks how much each ward donated in recent years, and minimum and target goals for them. Are similar records kept and goals set for all wards?)

Approximately 200,000 Utah youth and their families receive the benefits of the Scouting program each year. Each council must establish a budget and plan for generating the needed funds to meet the obligations of that budget. Therefore, each council generally establishes a goal in each of the fundraising campaigns as a tool to ensure that the necessary funds are raised.

Goal setting for the council and any other levels of organization within the council is determined by the volunteer leadership of each council. Some may set district goals and others may extend goals to the unit level. These goals are used as an organizational tool and are not meant to be used as monetary quotas. The primary goal of FOS is to make contact with as many members of the community as possible in order to allow them to share in the mission and values of the Boy Scouts of America.

10) For each council, is there a reward or penalty for meeting or missing targets?

The goal of Friends of Scouting is to give the opportunity for everyone in the community to support the Scouting program. Many people in every community benefit from the positive effects of the Scouting program and should be given the opportunity to help ensure the future of Scouting. There are no rewards for meeting or penalties for missing goals. FOS is driven by volunteers who follow a plan and we know they do the very best job possible. We appreciate their efforts and are grateful for their commitment to the BSA.

For over 100 years Scouting has provided a values-based program that has affected more than 100 million youth. These values have been part of the fabric of our society and have had a tremendously positive impact on our nation. The values of Scouting are needed today more than ever and we think that the reward for investing in the Scouting program is preparing our young people to lead a productive life that will positively affect our nation and world.

11) For the Great Salt Lake Council, if I understand correctly, a couple of years ago it said it was discontinuing camp discounts for units that met FOS goals and that essentially all groups would be given the discount rates. I've had questions come to me about whether the council is making up losses in revenue from that decision by charging more for some activities at its council camps. That includes such things as $18 for a kit for working on the Indian Lore merit badge; $6 for a paper target and 20 bullets to start working on the shooting merit badge; and $6 for a kit to make an arrow (that several archers said has poor enough quality that they would never actually shoot it for worry of hurting their equipment). Could you explain the basis for such charges, and whether they are designed to help meet overall camp costs not covered by basic camp fees?

This information is inaccurate. For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun, and we continue to make this experience possible through affordable camps. We have worked hard at keeping the cost for camp to a bare minimum because the camp experience is one of great value to each Scout. Providing a positive and affordable camping experience is one of the many budget items that a FOS investment supports. The support the council receives for families and the community in general enables the council to keep the cost of all program areas to a minimum.

12) For each council, could you explain where money from FOS goes – and what percent of the council budget it covers?

While the council has many sources of income, FOS is the single biggest source of revenue for most councils around the country. All FOS funds directly benefit the local council and community. FOS pays for services to units through the means of personnel, properties and equipment on the council level. These services help units with training, expertise, facilities, materials, activities, events, camps and other activities that support individual unit needs. Funds are also allocated to pay for outreach efforts to local underprivileged and underrepresented communities. In 2010, for every $1 of Friends of Scouting given to local Utah councils, a value of $4.10 was returned to the community through Scouting service.

13) For each council, could you say what the current salary is for the top scout executive and how many council employees make more than $100,000 in compensation? Or could you please provide a copy of your most recent IRS Form 990?

Executive compensation is recommended by the volunteer Compensation Committees of the three local councils and reviewed and approved by the leadership of the Council Executive Board. These committees are comprised of volunteer executive board members who are in senior management positions for their companies and know the local labor markets. Their expertise in understanding local wage and benefit scales help keep BSA employee compensation in line with the rest of the community.

Any details regarding compensation would be more appropriately directed to the council's volunteer leadership.

14) For each council, also please provide any additional information that you feel would help the community understand the FOS drives, their purpose and uses, and the benefits of scouting locally in general. That may include any expressions of gratitude for community support for the program.

For nearly 100 years, the BSA has provided parents and youth in local communities with a proven program of values and education. The Boy Scouts of America has succeeded in delivering this program by remaining true to the values of the Scout Oath and Law, and we are committed to continuing the positive influence of Scouting in our local communities.

We want everyone – regardless of their affiliation to Scouting – to have the opportunity to join us in building the character and integrity of Utah's youth. By supporting FOS, donors are supporting an organization that is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. We appreciate the support of our local community and look forward to working together to prepare the youth of Utah to become exceptional adults.