Month: May 2013

3 Most Common Items Left Off a Unit Budget

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Scouts ThriftyOne of the most beneficial things a Unit can do to start their program year is to create a Unit Budget.  In fact, having a Unit Budget is a section of every Unit’s Journey to Excellence qualifications, and, in my opinion, one of the easiest to complete.

There are many items that should be included in every Unit Budget.  Expenses include the following:

  1. Youth Registration
  2. Adult Registration
  3. Unit Charter Fee
  4. Insurance
  5. Awards

However, there are three items typically left off a standard Unit Budget.

1. Camp

In a survey done with the top 100 Units in each region (400 in total), 82% created a Unit Budget.  However, only 54% included a long-term camping experience in their budget.  Long-term camping experience includes Day Camp, Resident Camp, Summer Camp, and High Adventure.  The number one reason for not including camp in the Unit Budget was because someone other than the unit paid for camp, like their parents/guardian or the Charter Organization.

Camp should always be included.  This is standard accounting practice. If money is collected, whether from a product sale, parents or the Charter Organization, there should be an accounting of the funds.  Once these funds are collected, they are used to pay for camp.

2. Boys’ Life Magazine

Boys’ Life Magazine is received by less than half of all registered Scouts.  Boys’ Life Magazine is one of the item paid through the re-charter. The re-chartering process, while improved with the online system, is still difficult to complete. I find that if Boys’ Life Magazine is not made a priority with the Unit and included in the Unit Budget, then money is never collected to pay for it.

Many may not know, but there are several different versions of Boys’ Life Magazine created in order to match the boys’ level in Scouting as well as their reading level.  My son likes it because it is the one piece of mail that has his name on it.

3. Reserve Fund

Most not-for-profit organizations require in their by-laws to have a “Contingency Fund” on hand in the case of emergencies.  However, the majority of Units do not include this item in their Unit Budget.  Most organizations require at least a 5% Reserve Fund in their budget. For example, if a Unit has a budget of $10,000 then they should add $500 to their overall budget.

If budgeted correctly, this Reserve Fund is never used and rolled over to the next fiscal year. Remember, a Scout is to “Be Prepared” for emergencies, not only physically, but financially.

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6 Things Units need to do today to “Be Prepared” for the fall popcorn sale.

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popcorn kernal patch

For most Units, it is the end of the school year, thus the end of their program year.  However, in order to “Be Prepared” for the fall popcorn sale, there are several items that Units need to do before the program year is over.

1.       Create a Unit Program for the next year and your new budget

Units that have a planned program are more four times likely to recruit new Scouts into their program and retain current Scouts.  Many Councils have a Program Planning session in the spring, so make sure to attend.  Your budget will help determine how much money you need to raise and how long it should take.

2.       Set a Unit Goal and Individual Scout Goals for the fall popcorn sale

Units that set goals for their popcorn sale are 80% more likely to achieve their goal that those that do not.  That ratio is even higher when looking at the individual Scout.  Take into consideration the number of new Scouts you may recruit between now and when the sale begins.  If the expectations are set up front as to how much to sell and what the funds are going to, you are far more likely to have everyone participate.

3.         Get Volunteers Recruited

Vital to the success of your fundraising campaign is having enough volunteers to support it.  I recommend creating a Unit Popcorn Key 3 consisting of your Unit Popcorn Kernel, Unit Distribution Kernel and, if needed, a Unit Show and Sell Kernel.

The Unit Popcorn Kernel is the person that is the main point of contact with the Council, and they are responsible for turning in funds to the Council.  Depending on the size of your unit, you may have multiple people enter individual Scout Orders. However, the Unit Kernel is likely to be person that places the final orders with the Council.

The Unit Distribution Kernel is the person that actually picks up the popcorn from the appropriate location and delivers it to the Show and Sell Kernel and/or the individual Scouts for Final Distribution.

If your Council does Show and Sell (selling in front of a store), then I recommend having a person in charge of just these locations.  This person coordinates the site locations and schedules which Scout will be at that location and what time.  For some locations, permission needs to be obtained several months in advance.  That is why it is important to start today.

4.         Go to Training

Your Council is likely to hold a Popcorn Kickoff sometime between now and the start of your sale.  Do not send just one person to these trainings.  Get as many popcorn volunteers from your unit to attend these trainings.  The more people know, the more they are invested in the program and the process.

5.         Obtain your own Unit Prizes

One thing to include in your budget is the amount you will spend on your own unit prizes.  In a survey of the top 100 selling units in each region (400 in all), 84% of Units said they offered their own prize program outside of anything the Council or the popcorn company was offering (More on this survey in next week’s blog).  In addition, these units spend on average of 2% of their gross profits.  The dollar amount does not have to be a lot, but it is important to have something that is your own.

6.         Create a method of communication

There are many ways to do this.  Whether through mail, email, newsletter, Twitter, presentation or phone, you need to establish the best way to communicate to everyone in your unit.  Remember, different people prefer different delivery methods.  You need ask people how they prefer to be contacted and try to accommodate to this.  Because there are so many different ways to communicate, you may want to set the expectation with those in your unit.  Share with them the one, two or three different ways you are going to send out the information and have them look for it.

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