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Does Your Unit Have an Annual Budget?

Funding Scouting: Tips For Creating An Annual Budget Plan

As we begin thinking about the next school year of Scouting, let’s take time to plan for how we pay the expenses of providing an amazing Scouting program in our units.

Successful units know that having a plan for funding and expenses can make a difference for our Scouts. Here are some tips to create an annual budget plan to prepare for your unit program.

  • Start with a review of the previous year – Looking at last year’s income and expenses is a great way to identify your needs. There are annual expenses that are relatively predictable, such as membership fees, and annual income that is predictable, such as popcorn sales.
  • Major expenses – Summer camp, weekend camping, and equipment are some of the major areas of expense for a troop, pack, or crew. Utilize your program calendar plan to identify what needs your unit will have for the next twelve months. Budgeting for equipment repair and replacement is a good practice, as well.
  • Popcorn Sales – Fundraising is a key part of a unit’s finances. Including this in your budget plan and making sure it’s a priority for your leadership and your unit’s families can help to ensure plenty of revenue to fund your Scouting year.
  • Don’t forget the awards and patches – Recognition for our Scouts (and adult leaders) is important, and the expense of buying awards can add up, so remember to include this in your budget.
  • Fees and Dues – Does your unit charge membership fees to your members? Some units have reduced fees (offset by fundraising), some charge only the BSA’s fees while others charge a unit fee as well. Determining what your unit needs to charge should be based on your budgeted expenses and income to ensure the budget is balanced.
  • Involve your chartering organization – Some Charter Organizations want to be involved in, or sometimes review and approve, annual budgets. Discuss your organization’s practices with your COR.

Finally, a common misconception is that a unit must spend its entire yearly budget since we’re a non-profit organization. While you should check with your chartering organization on their policies, maintaining a cash reserve can be a good practice. Having reserves can help your unit to continue to meet its financial obligations even if it’s a low fundraising year.

Saving for a major purchase like a troop trailer or a major high adventure trek can also be a reason to have a cash reserve. This is not to say that units should stockpile cash – a reserve fund is typically less than one year’s operating expenses. If your unit is consistently taking in more revenue than it’s spending, a review and possible reduction of fees charged to your Scouts should be considered.

As always, I’m happy to provide any support I can to assist you in continuing an amazing program for your Scouts.

Happy Scouting!

Terry Dutton
Montana Council COO


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