It’s that time of the year when you’ll start hearing the phrase “Friends of Scouting” at unit meetings and district roundtables.
What is Friends of Scouting? What does it mean to be a Friend of Scouting? And why should you consider becoming one?
First, the basics: Friends of Scouting is your council’s annual giving campaign. In most councils, Friends of Scouting (or FOS) represents the council’s largest source of income.
In most councils, the Friends of Scouting campaign begins in November and ends in March. During the campaign, a volunteer will visit your pack meeting or troop court of honor to explain the campaign and make an appeal for your support. You’ll be asked to make a tax-deductible pledge to your local council.
The natural next question is: Why should I give money to my local council? Many councils answer this with what’s called “The Iceberg Analogy.”
The Iceberg Analogy
The thinking here is that Scouts and volunteers see only 20 percent of what councils provide to members. There’s a whole lot more beneath the surface.
I know this well. When I first became a Boy Scout, I had no idea that there were council professionals working behind the scenes to make the Scouting magic happen. I just assumed those silver-looped Scouters were other volunteers.
As I’ve met many of these wonderful professionals, I’ve grown to understand their role. They support you, the volunteer, so you have more time to enjoy the life-changing fun of Scouting.
What do councils provide? In other words: What’s beneath the surface?
- Volunteer and staff training
- Insurance coverage to protect volunteers, chartered organizations, staff members and properties
- Support staff for registration, publications and other program support
- Camp promotion for Cub Scout day camps, Boy Scout summer camps, high-adventure bases and more
- Camp rangers to keep the council camps up-to-date and ready for Scouts and families
- Camp equipment, like tents, cooking equipment, camp vehicles, building repairs, canoes, equipment replacement and repair, and general upkeep of council camps
- Recognitions for leaders who complete training, volunteer for special projects and help in many Scouting roles
- Professional staff to work with volunteers to organize new units, manage fundraising programs, conduct training, assist membership recruitment, provide counsel and direct support for district, camps and programs
- Administrative needs, including postage, computers and links to the National BSA computer system, copy machines, folding machines and a printing shop
- Service centers to provide additional support to volunteers
- Audio-visual supplies used in training, at camps and in volunteer meetings
- Postage to mail materials to leaders, parents and youth members
- A council website to keep you informed
- Reference publications and resources, including program planning kits and to camping cookbooks
- Camp scholarships, uniforms and registration fees for disadvantaged young people
As you can see, there’s more happening at your council than the average volunteer sees. And it can’t happen without the support of volunteers like you.
Employee match programs
Some companies, possibly including the one for which you work, will match their employees’ charitable contributions. Be sure to see whether your workplace has such a program. If so, you’ll double your impact.
Support Friends of Scouting
Watch your council newsletter, website or Facebook page to learn more about your council’s Friends of Scouting campaign. A fellow volunteer should be visiting you soon with more info.
Thanks for making a difference.
Photo by W. Garth Dowling/BSA