One 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:
- Youth Registration
- Adult Registration
- Unit Charter Fee
However, there are three items typically left off a standard Unit Budget.
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.