By Stephen Hales
Jul 02, 2013

Scout Money: Where It Comes From, How It’s Spent

“A Scout is Thrifty,” according to one of the points of the Scout Law. And that’s particularly true with the budget of the Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America—the nation’s largest BSA council. Across the country, the average cost to deliver the Scouting program to a boy is $190 per year. Our council, however, provides a great Scouting experience to each youth for just under $100, nearly half the national average.  All who donate to Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council can rest assured that they’re helping young people enjoy one of the world’s greatest values-based programs in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Where the money comes from.

At the Utah National Parks Council, the largest portion of our annual budget—38 percent— comes from donations by local families as part of the yearly Friends of Scouting campaign.  Our ability to make Scouting happen for nearly 84,000 youth is completely dependent on these contributions from people and companies throughout central and southern Utah.

Our next largest source of income—29.4 percent— comes from the money we raise through yearly Scouting activities in our Council. Funds generated from the use of our Scout camps are responsible for 23.3 percent of our budget. These three sources of income—donations, activities and camp use—represent more than 90% of all our income annually.

Other sources of income include our Scout Shop sales (6 percent), income from investments (1.6 percent) and facilities rental/popcorn sales (less than .2 percent each). Scouting was never intended to be a moneymaking enterprise. The generosity of tens of thousands of individual donors is what makes it all possible.

Where the money goes.

Just under a quarter of our budget is spent for camping activities, and related supplies.  The next largest expense areas are Scout camp facilities at 16.3 percent and other activities at 13.8 percent.  Nearly 55 percent of our annual budget is spent in these three areas—camping, camps and activities.

Travel/conferences and training each take about 10 percent of our budget (20% total for both categories). Utilities, phone, postage and printing together consume about 8 percent of all we spend. Seven percent of our budget is used to recruit new members, and 4.2% is spent to run the Scout Shops. Administration and insurance costs are just over 3 percent; recognition costs are just over 1% of the annual budget. Only 1% of our budget is used to pay for service fees to the BSA national headquarters.

Where the money for Scouting comes from and how it is spent (click to enlarge)

Where the money for Scouting comes from and how it is spent (click to enlarge.) Designed by Stephen Hales Creative (click on the infographic to enlarge for detail)

Frequently asked questions.

Q. How are Friends of Scouting funds used?

A. Friends of Scouting is our largest source of income, and represents 38% of our annual budget. We use these funds for unit services, recruiting members, training leaders, developing and operating camps and for program activities for units. These funds provide insurance, keep records of advancement and membership, and support the Council office and store.

Q. When I donate to Scouting, I’d like my donation to benefit boys in my community rather than to be used for other expenses. How much from every dollar I donate is spent on local Scouting?

A. Everything that’s raised from local donors goes directly to the local Scouting program. We try to cultivate several sources of income in our council in addition to donations. When we look at the entire “pot” of all our income, 99 percent of it is spent on our local council program and only about 1 percent goes for national charter and service fees. (Those costs are covered by our investment income, and are not paid from local donations.) We hope every donor knows that all of his or her donation is used to benefit local youth.

Q. The LDS Church operates completely with volunteers. Why doesn’t Scouting operate the same way?

The Church is actually one of Utah’s largest employers. It’s a good example of how a “volunteer” organization requires a backbone of paid administrative help in order to function efficiently.

The Boy Scouts of America is a volunteer-run program with a paid staff in support roles. We’re a full-time organization that serves youth. Our volunteers deserve full-time, quality support by our employees. Our council has 32 full-time executive staff members and 41 full- or part-time clerical support staff serving nearly 84,000 youth and nearly 44,000 adult volunteer leaders in more than 6,000 units. This is the most efficient ratio of staff to participants of any BSA Council.

Q. I’ve heard that Scout executive salaries are excessive. Is that true?

A. No. Scout executives are paid modestly, especially when compared to similar non-profit organizations like school districts. The Alpine School District, for example, serves 73,854 young people in 2013. The Utah National Parks Council serves 83,827, yet the Council’s CEO makes less than half what the superintendent makes. (As a private non-profit organization, the Council’s salaries are publicly available online here.) Our professional staff members receive salaries that are similar to what school teachers receive.

The salaries of national BSA leaders are set by the national BSA board (which includes LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, incidentally) and the National Chief Executive’s salary if funded by an endowment. These salaries are audited to be sure they’re commensurate with salaries paid by other similar non-profit organizations. Local donors should remember, however, that none of their Friends of Scouting contributions are used to pay for national salaries.

Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council is an efficient, carefully run program. When your local Scout leaders come by your home as part of the annual Friends of Scouting campaign, remember to be generous in your contributions. Please accept our thanks—from everyone in the Council—for your continued support and interest.

Author: Stephen Hales | Past Marketing Vice President, Utah National Parks Council


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4 thoughts on “Scout Money: Where It Comes From, How It’s Spent

  1. AvatarDevin Caldwell

    Could you break down how much of the 16.3% facilities budget is spent on the Bacon Memorial Park? If just the Vernal area raised $120,000 in 1 year I would assume that near $20,000 was spent on the facility that is closest to the Uintah Basin? Yet, the NYLT program has been using old donated Coca Cola refrigerators for at least the past 10 years. Many of the other camps have an indoor facility with AC where they can do the projector and slideshow presentations. In the past we have had to hang a sheet and black out an outdoor pavilion with oil field pit liners to get it dark enough to see the screen (let’s not talk about how hot it can get in an enclosed area that has black walls with no insulation. The camp host that lives a 1/4 mile down the road doesn’t receive much. Yet, maybe the taxes on the land or something else is taking up a larger share of that portion than what I realize. Ever since the Council started taking care of it near 1996-1997 it hasn’t seen any major renovations. It seems to be discussed each year that we will be next in line for an upgraded kitchen/ pavilion… and it never comes to fruition. Here’s to hoping…

    Either way we love the youth and everything that scouting provides so we will continue to serve all those that will attend.

    1. AvatarHeidi Sanders

      Bacon Park is one of the properties being addressed in our current capital campaign. We have a committee formed in the Uintah Basin that is preparing to raise the money and help with the development of the property. Lynn Snow is the chairman of that campaign. You may know him. One of our obstacles, that has slowed down the Bacon Park development, is that we have a water rights issue and we can’t provide enough water to service the showers in the facility. Currently, the neighbors are resisitant to working with us on a solution. Because of that we have been unable to move forward on the development plans. We are still working to create a win win scenario for everyone involved. If you could help with this solution please contact us.
      Utah National Parks Council.

  2. AvatarJennifer

    I heard that the council is currently in debt or went in the red last year. Is that true? If so – how can we say we are effectively managing the funds donated?

    1. AvatarHeidi Sanders

      The Council last year had a $200,000 surplus that was put toward eliminating a retained earnings negative that had accumulated over prior years. The Executive Board is dedicated to a fiscally responsible budget and are dedicated to ensuring that a balanced budget happens each year. So far this year we are on track for another good, fiscally responsible year.
      Utah National Parks Council


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