Total Financial Development

To be financially healthy, a council must address current needs while planning for the future. Volunteer leaders and Scouts alike depend on the council to strike this balance to provide the staffing, equipment, and facilities needed to help make Scouting happen.

In 1996, the Crossroads of America Council, in Indianapolis, Indiana, began having a unique problem: double-digit growth thanks to a successful membership campaign. The traditional Scouting program had gains of more than 25 percent. While growth in membership is a good problem to have, former Council President Steve Holt says the strain of the increase took its toll.

"When you have that kind of growth, suddenly your facilities don't work; the camp dining hall isn't large enough; the pool leaks. ... You just need more programming facilities," says Holt.

The membership increases caused the council to re-examine its financial position and begin planning to meet its growing needs by looking at the bottom line.

For the Boy Scouts of America, watching the bottom line isn't a luxury; it's a necessity because it takes money to support Scouting's values-driven program. Successful financial development enables a council to provide the staffing, equipment, and facilities to support the youth already in the program and to reach out to those who could benefit from the Scouting program.

To do this, a council must strike a balance between three major budgetary components: operating, endowment, and capital.

The operating budget covers daily operating expenses and is funded through the annual Friends of Scouting campaign and other fund-raising activities. A council's endowment budget is built with gifts from supporters and is intended to provide long-term financial security for the council. The capital budget is funded by contributions and can be used for new facilities and for repairs to existing ones, and financing special initiatives. To deliver the best program possible and to reach the most youth, a council must succeed in all three areas. The Crossroads of America Council is doing just that.

The highlight of the council's financial picture was a $17 million major gift campaign, which funds camp improvements and endowment. The funds also support a major urban Scouting initiative with $2.5 million, as well as a $1 million leader training initiative. At the end of the campaign, the council reported total commitments of $19.5 million—$2.5 million above its goal.

For Bob Reynolds, vice president for council finance, the financial success gives the council the ability to focus on what really matters: the youth.

"When you have success in all these areas, you have a healthy Scouting program," says Reynolds. "You can afford to keep all your professional positions filled and keep them recruiting, motivating, and training volunteers while the volunteers deliver the program, which is the promise to the kids."

Commitment to delivering the promise is also the motivation behind the Old Baldy Council's financial success. Serving Ontario, California, the Old Baldy Council has established a disciplined policy of cost containment, as well as an overall financial strategy. Because of this commitment, the council has had more than 30 percent growth in its Friends of Scouting campaign since 1999. The council has also launched "Investing in the Promise ... Building a Legacy of Character," an endowment campaign designed to raise $10 million for the council endowment by 2010, the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

Looking forward to that anniversary, the council's long-term goals include deeper involvement in the community and continued commitment to being the most relevant youth-serving organization in the Inland Valley, says Harold Fraser, council vice president for endowment. "The bottom line is that total financial development allows us to make sure we have a quality program to offer the kids and gives us the ability to bring our program to those youth Scouting hasn't reached yet."