Since 1993, local council endowments have more than doubled, increasing to $2.2 billion and allowing councils to make much-needed improvements to camp facilities, fund day-to-day operating expenses, and extend service to more and more youth.
When people think about Scouting, chances are they think about kids, not dollars. But the fact is that much of the success the Boy Scouts of America achieved in serving youth in 1999 can be attributed directly to our success in endowment development.
For a council, a healthy endowment is critical for providing a steady source of funding for a variety of purposes, including day-to-day operating expenses, hiring additional staff, and financing improvements to camp facilities. Endowment can also serve as a rainy-day fund to help a council weather tough economic times without having to cut back on services to youth.
To assist local councils in their efforts to build stronger endowments, the National Council launched a nationally coordinated endowment campaign in 1993. Since then, local council endowments have more than doubled, reaching almost $2.2 billion in cash and deferred gifts at the close of 1999.
Thanks to the campaign, endowment growth has been fostered through the James E. West Fellowship, The 1910 Society, and the Founders Circle Award, which provide recognition for those who make significant contributions. Legal counsel has been hired in each region to assist local councils with endowment issues, while events such as national endowment teleconferences and other programs have helped educate potential donors and generated interest in endowment giving. One way many councils do this is through the National Endowment Art Tour.
The Art Tour, a traveling exhibition of Scouting memorabilia and artwork by well-known artists such as Joseph Csatari and Norman Rockwell, has played a part in the development success of many councils by showing the impact of the Scouting movement in America during the past 90 years. The exhibition provides an opportunity for supporters and potential donors to gain insight into the movement, and at the same time, learn more about the benefits of endowment giving.
The Mount Diablo-Silverado Council, in Pleasant Hill, California, is one council that has capitalized on the Art Tour. Having hosted a tour in 1996 and another in 1999, the council has used the exhibits to heighten awareness of endowment giving. By following a well-developed endowment plan and utilizing a sound investment strategy, Mount Diablo-Silverado Council has seen its endowment increase from $1.5 million to $6 million in three years. In 1999 alone, the council endowment increased 16 percent.
"The national emphasis on endowment has given us a framework to do an effective job of building endowment," says Vic Parachini, chairman of the council's endowment trustees committee. "Endowment has been elevated to a full-gauge function that is every bit as important as properties, or anything else we do."
Those dollars have been used to fund everything from the addition of three unit-serving executives in 1999, to the reconstruction of a summer camp damaged by mud slides. The council is able to serve 5,000 more youth today than it could four years ago due, in part, to its endowment success.
And serving more youth is the ultimate goal.
For smaller councils, such as the Housatonic Council, which serves 2,500 youth in Derby, Connecticut, recognition and simple, face-to-face communication can be the key to endowment success.
"We sit down, and we visit with people about Scouting and listen to their experiences," says Endowment Chair Dorthy Pandagast. After each visit, Pandagast leaves a little bit of Scouting behind by giving each person she visits a copy of The Boy Scout Handbook.
For Pandagast, the key to increasing the number of James E. West Fellowships is simply to ask. The approach may sound simple, but it's working. In 1998, the council set a goal of adding one new James E. West Fellowship member each month.
The council missed its goal by one member in 1998 but more than made up for it in 1999 with the addition of 16 James E. West Fellowships.
Nationally, more than 1,900 James E. West Fellowship endowments were established during 1999, with gifts totaling $2,244,369. Overall, councils added more than $400 million in cash and deferred gifts to their endowments. For councils like Housatonic, that kind of growth can be the first step in building an endowment that will guarantee Scouting for generations to come.
The Boy Scouts of America has come a long way in building a firm financial foundation for the future. Chief Scout Executive Jere B. Ratcliffe says it best: "We had gone 85 years and raised $300 million for local council endowment. Today, the total value of gifts in hand and planned gifts is $2.2 billion. And we've just scratched the surface."