ScoutingJanuary-February 2000

Front Line Stuff Front Line Stuff

Edited by Robert W. Peterson
Illustration by Bill Basso

What should be the message given to unit leaders and parents during a Friends of Scouting fund-raising campaign? FOS speaker D.B., a pack and troop committee member, asked that question in our October issue. Scouters had several suggestions.

Most people who hear a Friends of Scouting (FOS) presentation are already familiar with the benefits of Scouting. Not only do they believe in the value and importance of the program but most of them also give considerable time and money to support a pack or troop. How can anyone possibly ask these dedicated adults for more?

The following is the message that helped me to understand the need to raise more money: "The local council needs money to pay for the things that volunteers can't do or won't do." It's a simple, easily understood concept. In spite of the great service volunteers do for Scouting, there are some necessary things and services that must be purchased.

Troop Committee Member J.F.
Loveland, Colo.

My Friends of Scouting message consists of three parts: why we're asking for money, what we will do with it, and how a donation will benefit your family, your community, and your country.

In San Diego, the answer to "why" is simple. We have pie charts that show our local council income and expenditures over the years. I point out that the slice titled "United Way" has dropped from 37 percent of the council budget 20 years ago to 4 percent last year. I also note that when $100 is given to the council through United Way, the council gets about $79; when $100 is given through FOS, the council gets all of it.

Another pie chart shows how the money is spent. Many parents are surprised to learn that none of their child's annual dues or Boys' Life subscription money goes to the local council.

The most important part of my FOS presentations is as a witness to the power of the Scouting program. I point out that the Boy Scouts of America, with its Oath and Law, has been training "promise keepers" since 1910. Many of us Scouters are keeping promises we made as young men and women. This concept is especially effective with church groups.

It's also important to talk about the impact of Scouting on your own family. I often give examples of how Scouting has influenced my children and say that they have become successful adults at least partly because of their Scouting experiences and of the role model I have been as a Scout leader.

San Diego, Calif.

I often hear Scouters say, "I volunteer my time; I shouldn't have to pay money, too."

My response is, "If Scouting were not here, who would you pay to give your child the experiences he has in this type of organization?"

Volunteers need to set the FOS giving standard. Make a big deal in your presentation about unit leaders, committee members, and others associated with the troop who commit to FOS. Their example will often guide the rest of the families toward contributing.

Scouting means the world to me and my 15-year-old Eagle Scout. I can't think of a place other than church where I would rather he be involved. I hate to think of where he would go without Scouts and where Scouting would go without FOS.

Hamilton, Va.

The first key to a successful FOS campaign is education. When people are informed about the expenses of a quality Scouting program and understand that dues and registration fees don't come close to supporting the program, it has been my experience that they are willing to become a Friend of Scouting.

A creative presentation is the second key. One year when we presented the message in a humorous skit, we raised more money than ever before or since in our district. Some people said they understood what FOS was about for the first time.

Another key is to believe in what you're presenting. You can't sell others on what you don't believe in yourself.

Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner V.L.
McPherson, Kan.

I tell unit leaders and parents what Friends of Scouting is and why all of us, Scouting and the community, need it. I explain what is done with their contribution dollars, and I ask them to support the council's objectives by giving because of what it has given to their son and their family.

I start my FOS planning early. In August I ask each unit to provide the district FOS committee with details about the time, place, and person responsible for the unit's FOS presentation.

At roundtables, I emphasize the rewards of planning: meeting the unit's dollar goal, achieving the campaign incentives for unit and individuals, and helping the unit earn the Quality Unit recognition.

I don't shy away from the occasional unit leader who tries to avoid the campaign by telling me that his or her unit's parents won't or can't help. I respond by saying parents should make their own choice after hearing the facts about FOS.

I firmly believe that if the message is presented effectively, reasonable people will make an attempt to give money to our campaign.

District Family FOS Chairperson T.V.
Omaha, Neb.

The best advice an FOS presenter can get is: Know your audience.

Most of the parents who come to a pack or troop parents' meeting in order to hear a pitch for Friends of Scouting know very little about how Scouting is funded.

They know that they pay their child's annual registration fee, and that the child pays dues to his unit and probably subscribes to Boys' Life. So why are they being asked for more money?

Friends of Scouting donations to the local council are a vital source of income for most councils. So it's important that the parents understand what the local council does.

Explain that the council organizes and supports new units, provides a Scout camp with lots of facilities, operates a service center for Scouting equipment, and has a staff of Scouting professionals to help districts and units to succeed.

They will be more likely to donate to FOS if they understand where the money goes.

Troop Committee Member J.S.
St. Petersburg, Fla.

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