This is an important year to be involved with the LDS Friends of Scouting campaign. As a Friend of Scouting (FOS) veteran at the ward level (six years running) and as a fairly new District Executive, I hope to give some pointers for a successful FOS campaign and to shine a light on a few misunderstandings.
The Elephant in the Room
UPDATED: Aug 28, 2015
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Aug 26 saying they will continue their century-long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America despite their initial concerns with the recent adult leader resolution adopted by the BSA.
In recent meetings with the two organizations, the BSA assured the Church it would be able to continue to appoint Scout leaders based on their religious and moral values.
“As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances,” the statement said.
In response, the Utah National Parks Council released a statement saying they are humbled and “grateful for the trust placed in the Scouting program by the LDS Church to help serve and build up their young men.”
Even before a decision was released by the Church, the direction to LDS leaders (sent July 28, 2015) from Elder L. Whitney Clayton, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy was:
“Please go forward with this year’s Friends of Scouting fundraising drive without any delay. We hope that the drive will be successful and fully achieve its purposes.
So, we move forward in our efforts supported by leadership of the Church.
Tip #1: Study the Ward Timeline and Assignment Matrix
Be familiar with the Ward Timeline and Assignment Matrix from Elder Dane Leavitt. It will help you with expected dates and possible responsibilities delegated from the bishop. For example, the Bishop or you may make assignments for someone to make follow up contact with families in the ward, and other such helpful direction.
Tip #2: Get to Know the Software
The Utah National Parks Council has been using a software called Patchfunding to track FOS campaigns for a number of years. Many of you have probably used the system before. If you haven’t used it before or need a refresher, take the time to review the online training at www.utahscouts.org/wardFOStraining.
In this year’s 2015 campaign, Wards will be able to deposit FOS donations at a local bank instead of having to drive to the Scout offices. Watch the twelve minute video below on how to create and process a deposit at the Ward level.
Tip #3: Keep Records Accurate
Keeping your donations organized and your donors organized at the ward level saves a lot of headache later. For example, when you import donors into the PatchFunding system check them for accuracy so there are no duplicates or errors. Remove donors who are no longer in your ward, and add the new ones. Without accurate and organized information it becomes a lot more difficult if an issue comes up, like a bounced check or anonymous donor.
One thing to check for is if the donor has an e-mail. Usually the donor will choose to include their email when they do a credit card payment online, the best reason is so that they can get a receipt of their charitable donation to be used for tax purposes. Contact your Stake Clerk or District Executive if you have any questions or issues that arise.
Tip #4: Have the “Right Person” Make the Ask
Last year I was new to my ward. As I went out to visit with members and request FOS donations, many people questioned whether I was in the ward at all and some thought that I was scamming. I had to have people who had been in the ward and who were known by members go back to make many visits that I had already made because the “trust factor” wasn’t there.
I also found that overall donations were down significantly the year I rant the campaign as a new member of the ward verses the year before when a long time member of the ward made the visits.
Tip #5: Provide A “Meaningful Opportunity”
We all tend to rationalize why we shouldn’t contact everyone. For example, people told me, “Don’t contact Sister so and so because she is a widow and on a limited budget.” My response was, “I have an 80 year-old mother who is a widow and she budgets every year for FOS because she has seen the impact that Scouting has had on her sons and grandsons.”
One of my favorite experiences while working for the Boy Scouts was when an older sister came into the office and told me that she wanted to contribute to FOS because she had been missed by her Ward. This wonderful sister pulled out $0.83 in change and gave it to me. That is the closest that I have ever come to the bible story of the widow’s mite.
Tip #6: Remember This is Your Campaign
The Friends of Scouting Campaign is run by the stakes and ward, not by the council or the Scouts. We as the council may provide resources and training, but in the end each campaign is decided and run by the Church.
- Give all families a meaningful opportunity to contribute to Scouting
- Account well for contributions
Leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are given Priesthood keys and the ability to received revelation about their stewardship. In my experience, FOS campaigns are always more successful when local leaders rely on these two facts when deciding what to do.
While door to door is popular, I have seen successful campaigns in second or third hours of Sunday meetings, at Ward dinners, and in many other interesting ways. So, own your campaign and run it according to the direction the Lord gives you.
Tip #7: Answering the “Hard” Questions
UPDATED: Aug 28, 2015
Many people that are asked to go out and solicit for FOS are worried that they won’t know what to say if people ask “hard questions.” The ward FOS packets contained information about “Why Scouting Matters” and a letter from Elder Leavitt that discusses his thoughts about leader selection, local alignment, and finances. You can review this letter on the blog with additional charts here: To Friends of Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council. Use these resources at the door to explain the value of Scouting and to be open about Council finances. Plus if they have any questions about how the Council or paid professionals help serve your local unit, have them come into my office and I will happily give them a look into my daily work as a Scouting professional.
Try not to speculate unnecessarily into the relationship between the Church and the BSA and teach those who make visits not to either. Remember that one of the most important things we can do is, as the Primary song says, “Follow the Prophet.” Scouting continues to be supported as the “activity arm of the priesthood.” Scouting has held this position since 1913. Scouting will continue to do everything it can to help youth develop character, citizenship, and personal fitness by working with and through the LDS Church’s Stakes and Wards. Take this opportunity to strengthen the members in the value of Scouting, so that we may run a worthwhile program for our young men. We need not lose a generation of boys, because of a moment of uncertainty.
The fact is, here in Utah, the Boy Scouts of America have never worked more closely with the LDS Church in serving the young men and their leaders. Local Scouting volunteers at the District and Council level meet regularly with stake presidents and bishops to understand what the the Utah National Parks Council can do to help LDS leaders meet the needs of their congregations and specifically their youth.
May we we all have a successful Friends of Scouting campaign! If you run into anymore questions contact your stake representative or call the Scout Office for your District Executive (801)-437-6222.
Author: Russell Dailey | District Executive, Black Diamond District