By Joel Zabriskie
Mar 05, 2015

Financial Transparency and the Council’s Budget Process

Money Signs FeatureRecently we completed a second survey of Scouters and LDS Church Leaders. The overwhelming question among them centered on finance, so we have asked several contributors to help explain the process.

This first article comes to us from Joel Zabriskie. I have known him for years as both the Council Commissioner and as a local LDS Stake President. Several years back, Joel was able to finally put his accounting and finance degree to work when he joined our finance team as CFO and Comptroller at Utah National Parks Council.

When we asked him to explain the budget process, this was his response:

Utah National Parks Council (UNPC) is a Utah corporation chartered by the National Office of The Boy Scouts of America as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As any corporation, it has Bylaws which provides structure to the entity as well as instructions and requirements of its officers, employees and volunteers.

The council’s bylaws authorizes two governing bodies: the Executive Board and the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is comprised of 15 to 20 volunteers who meet monthly to discuss and approve various topics and proposals. The Executive Board is made up of the officers of the Council, District Chairs, Council Committee Chairs and others approved and elected, all being volunteers. The Scout Executive is the Secretary to these committees, but has no voting power. The Executive Board meets quarterly.

One of the Bylaw requirements states:

“The Executive Board shall, preceding the commencement of each fiscal year, consider and adopt a budget of estimated expenditures by the corporation for such fiscal year.”

Since the fiscal year ends December 31st, the budget must be considered and adopted at the Executive Board meeting held in November of each year. Preparation of the proposed budget takes place months before the board meeting.

Money GraphA Council Budget Committee is appointed with a chairman and several committee members, including the Council Treasurer, all who are volunteers. The proposed budget is prepared by the Scout Executive and the CFO, taking into consideration historical data as well as future anticipated changes. They meet together to discuss the various aspects of the budget, including the current financial status of the council. After careful deliberation and, in some cases, more than one meeting, the annual budget is revised, finalized and given to the Executive Committee for their consideration and approval.

In a regularly scheduled Executive Committee meeting the annual budget is presented by the Budget Committee Chair or the Council Treasurer. A motion is made to accept the budget with any revisions, and is forwarded to the Executive Board for their approval.

The Budget Committee Chair or Council Treasurer presents the annual budget to the Executive Board and answers any questions. It is then approved for the following year.

As can be observed, this is a lengthy ongoing process which creates discipline in managing the finances of the Council, requiring attention to detail, and fulfillment of fiduciary responsibilities.

Author: Joel Zabriskie | CFO/Comptroller, Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America

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3 thoughts on “Financial Transparency and the Council’s Budget Process

  1. AvatarScott Echols

    I love Scouting. But after reading this article I still have no idea how the money is spent. In the “How the money is used portion of the image the percentages add up to 100, so I must assume that things like salaries must be lumped into expense categories like “Insurance and Administration”, “Training”, and “Travel and Conferences”. And in Utah there is no “Membership Recruitment” that I’m aware of, other than through the LDS Church which would have no fiscal impact to the Council.

    My primary concern is this: I am currently a Scoutmaster, a former Unit Commissioner, and former BSA Chartered Organization Executive. I know that they are not entirely equivalent but the costs for LDS Young Women camps is less than 1/2 of that for a Council sponsored Scout camp. I know that each “troop friend”, staff member, and BSA camp director is paid. And I know most are not paid very much for the amount of time they put in, having had 2 of my own children work at BSA camps. On the other hand, LDS Young Women camps are staffed by volunteer missionaries that are mostly unpaid. Both LDS Young Women camps and BSA camps are very well run and wonderful experiences for youth. I don’t know the exact figures but I’m certain that LDS YW camps are partly funded directly through Church funds that are not covered through individual units or the girls. BSA collects a very large portion of their funds through Friends of Scouting, with no comparable equivalent for the girls. The overall numbers seem to be vastly different between BSA and the Young Women, roughly 4:1. Can you help me better understand how the BSA money is spent?


    1. Melany GardnerMelany Gardner


      Thank you for your thoughtful questions. We are working on a series of articles to explain how recieved money is used in Utah National Parks Council,BSA, this article is the first and only explains our budget process. Your questions will be helpful to make sure we address as we continue to write about financial transparency.

    2. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

      Several years ago, when running the FOS campaign in our stake, someone commented on the inequitable difference between the cost of young men and young women programs. The counselor in the stake presidency chuckled and said, “looks the same to me.” He then pointed out the MIA Shalom (our young women’s camp) assessment was nearly the same as what we raised in Friends of Scouting. Then we got down to it and compared camp costs, that’s when the stake started underwriting Scout camp along with YW camp; all youth in our stake earn $45 toward camp and the stake makes up the difference, YM and YW alike


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