Ensure Financial Security

Well-directed funding keeps Scouting dynamic.

Local financial development helps fund council camps and programs.

A council's financial development and security is not just a BSA effort but a community effort.

At the council level, Scouting owes a debt to its board members for their leadership in keeping the program relevant and thriving in its local communities. In the Greater Pittsburgh Council, the board stepped up in a new way—by personally expanding the donor base to keep up with a growing budget.

With a greater emphasis on the Friends of Scouting structure, the council sought to broaden its army of individual donors to offset trends in the local business environment. That meant training staff and volunteers to better share the message of Scouting and to demonstrate how potential donors could help it grow.

It also meant a challenge for the board. "We said, 'Board member, all we're asking you to do is bring someone to a nice dinner,'" said Lou Testoni, council president. "Everyone knows there's going to be an ask, but it'll be someone else doing the ask."

Relieving board members of the duty of asking for donations—and putting that job in the hands of folks who were trained to share the message of Scouting—made board members more comfortable and led to a more dynamic environment at the Friends of Scouting dinner.

The council's Friends of Scouting campaign added more than 1,100 new donors and saw an increase in pledges, from $800,000 to more than $1 million (with a 97.2 percent collection rate). The Friends of Scouting dinner alone yielded 250 new donors, who gave an average first-time gift of $440.

The Family Friends of Scouting effort was responsible for 520 new family donors.

The board's increased role was the key to that growth, Testoni said.

The Nevada Area Council took a broad approach to managing its base of donors and found the need for a multi-pronged approach to fund-raising, from customer calls to support grassroots activities to relationships that back more basic needs, such as operating costs and endowments for the future.

Treating individual donors as though they were customers of a business has become a necessity because today's donors are more sophisticated with their charity dollars, said Sandy Rogers, the council's vice president for finance.

"The only way to grow is to have some sense of organization and of donor management," she said. "It's relationships. It's cultivation. It's not just ask, go away, ask, go away."An important piece of the council's success in donor management is in working with a comprehensive, integrated plan so all arms of the council's financial operation operate in the same direction.

In addition to a strong relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a solid Friends of Scouting program, the council also benefited from a single donor's gift of land. That land was sold, and the proceeds formed the core of a $6 million endowment.

"It's always really hard to raise endowment funds," Rogers said. "Everyone likes to help programs with hands-on, feel-good activities. This [endowment] gives us a good springboard for the future."