How Local Councils are Funded
One of the questions that I am asked most frequently is why does a council (such as Transatlantic) need money? Most Scouters are surprised when they discover how a council is structured.
Relationship of the National Council, BSA to a Local Council
Every council in the Boy Scouts of America is chartered by the National Council, BSA to deliver
Scouting into their specifically designated geographic area. To maintain their charter a council
agrees to abide by the BSA Rules and Regulations, meet program standards established by the BSA, and be fiscally sound.
Each council pays a charter fee (like a franchise fee), liability insurance fees, and forwards all
registration fees and Boy’s Life fees to the National Office. For these fees, councils receive training support, and program resource support, but no financial support from the National Council.
Local Councils are entirely responsible for finding the funding for their operation in their assigned area. The average council has to raise about $280 per youth member per year. We do this by using some or all of the methods listed below:
-- Receiving financial support from local United Ways. At one time this was the primary source
of funding for most councils. It is still a significant source of money for many councils in the
United States. As you may have read in the newspapers this source of funding is being heavily
contested in some communities.
-- Raising funds through the Family Friends of Scouting Campaign with presentations at Blue and Gold Banquets, and Courts of Honor from January to April.
-- Soliciting for funds from corporations and foundations within the council. Many corporations
make substantial contributions (5-20K) to support their local BSA council.
-- Maintaining a Scout Shop
-- Besides the Family Friends of Scouting Campaign, councils may conduct popcorn sales, bowl-a-thons, NFL Sales, Scout Shows (Scout-a-Rama) ticket sales with proceeds being shared with the units (usually 80% council to 20% units).
-- Distinguished Citizen Dinners ($100 to $500 a plate dinners), Golf Tournaments for corporate supporters.
-- Endowment Funds (Remembering a local council in a will or making the council a beneficiary of an annuity.)
-- In the lean years a local council may take out a loan based on the real property value of their
owned camps or council service center.
Transatlantic Council has the same requirements as any other local council. With the huge territory we cover, and the programs we conduct, we spend about $280 per youth member per year. Many of the ways that councils raise funds in the States work here as well.
We have had great success with the Family Friends of Scouting campaign conducted by many of our communities.
Our Scout Shop works very hard and is important part of the cash flow for the council operation. However once the cost of sales, employee costs, postage costs, and credit card charges are deducted. We provide a service as it is at best a break even operation.
We do not have a United Way but we do receive some support from the Combined Federal
Campaign. (about 4% of our budget) There are few corporate contributions in TAC. (However most American companies have very few Americans working for them overseas, and do not give as heavily as they do in their home communities.)
The Bowl-a-thon is an important part of our overall financing, but we are still in the learning
stages. The Bowl-a-thon raises $20 K (net) to support our overall programs.
Popcorn Sales we have brought back two years ago, and we are improving the process each
year giving units the availability and opportunity to make money for quality programs.
The $110 we receive for every youth who joins our council (Overseas Council fees and non-tax
dollars generated by military families overseas). This is very important to us as we can count on 33% of our annual operating needs to provide the BSA program in Europe.
Due to the transient nature of our membership and the great deal of professional time needed to conduct successful golf tournaments, distinguished citizen dinners etc. preclude us from holding those events. Our council has no real property or owns any buildings to help us get in and out of debt.
What does a council do for you?
Provides a Professional Staff. (Your DE and the professionals who support him.) Provides training courses for new and experienced leaders including an annual conferences, Wood Badge, Trainer’s Edge Course, Day Camp School, National Youth Leadership Training. Any
training session offered must be sanctioned by the council.
Provides support staff to handle registration, advancement, camp, training support etc. Provides events such as camporees, Cub Scout Day Camp, Cub Adventure Weekend, Cub Fun Day, Merit Badge Lock-in, Order of the Arrow activities. Any activity above the unit level must be sanctioned by the council.
Provides opportunity to go to long term camps
Provides Commissioner support to units. Commissioners act as a liaison between the BSA and
units to help units succeed in providing a quality program to youth. When units have problems, they make sure the support is there to continue Scouting.
What happens to councils who do not meet the National Criteria for a Charter?
If the problem is program related, or following the standards of the BSA then corrective action is taken. The solution depends on the problem. In the case of finances or too few members (with little prospect for improvement), working with the board of directors of local councils a merger may occur.
Transatlantic Council is in no danger of losing its charter due to program. We have one of the
strongest programs in the BSA. Our membership continues to grow serving approximately 5300 youth members. We have to remain vigilant with our finances. Should we not be able to operate, the BSA would serve the American families in Europe from Dallas. The administrative support would continue but there would be no summer camps, training courses, commissioner support, camporees, district/council activities etc.
That is why we continue to ask for your support of the Family Friends of Scouting campaign. I feel that as a volunteer and professional team that we give our youth a memorable, exciting scouting experience.