An Intelligent Investment

Gifts to Scouting

The Old North State Council's endowment fund has grown phenomenally in recent years, giving the council a greater sense of security.

In the Thomas family, five sons and one grandson have already reached Eagle Scout rank, and more grandsons are on track. As part of their continued support of Scouting, John W. Thomas Jr., kneeling, and his family recently donated $2.1 million to the Old North State Council's endowment fund.

When it comes to building the endowment fund at the Old North State Council in Greensboro, North Carolina, the council's vice president of endowment, Bill Latture, is not boasting when he says recent years have been "very successful."

Endowment funds at the council have grown from just over $2 million in 1995 to over $7 million at the end of 1998. This phenomenal growth of endowment funds has given the council a greater sense of security and the knowledge that funds for operating expenses, property improvement, and program enhancement will be there when needed.

"When you own a house," Latture points out, "you need to put aside the money for a rainy day in case the roof develops a leak."

Scout Executive Bill Brackett adds, "Too often in the past, we've had to wait until the pump broke, then go raise money to buy one, so to speak. Now we can include money in our operating income from the endowment fund to maintain our facilities."

Embracing the endowment portion of Scouting's strategic plan, Scout Executive Bill Brackett, left, and his council are on track to exceed their $6.1 million goal.

Much of the early increase in Old North State funds may be attributed to the merging of councils, but more recent catalysts have been an enthusiastic capital endowment campaign, receipt of several major donations from supporters - including gifts of $300,000, $500,000, and $2.1 million - and the savvy management of donated funds.

"We have very conservative bylaws that say only income from the principal (of the endowment fund) is available," explains Latture. In this manner, the principal of the fund is retained to provide future income for identified needs and emergencies. Endowment money for everyday operations and improvement projects must come from the fund's investment returns, and, as Latture points out, "It takes a great deal of investment to provide the funds we need on an annual basis."

For help with these investments, the council sought professional advice.

"We went through the process of securing a consultant who helped us identify a fund manager," says Brackett. "Since we've done that, the return has been significantly above average for our endowment funds." The move to a fund manager showed very tangible results: the Old North State Council's endowment fund jumped $1 million in one year.

Funds from the capital endowment campaign will allow the council to finish a dining hall at its Cub Scout camp and new troop sites at its Scout reservation. Funds also ensure that all council facilities are kept in first-class condition.

But while the council members can be justly proud of their accomplishments, the drive to build funds is far from over. The current two-year capital endowment campaign has been very well received by the public and is already close to its $6.1 million goal - a year ahead of schedule. Funds from the capital portion of the campaign will help finish a swimming pool and dining hall at the council's Cub Scout camp. Troop sites and a "primitive" camping site will be added on the Scout reservation. A new wing for the council office will be built, and a lakeside camp will begin to take shape as a base for Sea Scouts, complete with a 50-mile canoe trail.

Funds from the endowment portion will give support to the council's Scoutreach program, take the pressure off fund-raising on an annual basis, provide maintenance money to keep council facilities in first-class condition, and assist the council in meeting national Scouting goals that encourage a higher percentage of council income coming from endowment.

"We thought that $6 million was probably the maximum we could raise," says Dr. Michael D. Priddy, 1998 council president, "but it's going so well that we feel like we can go ahead and include other council needs that had been identified and hopefully end up with a campaign total between $8 and $9 million."

A key reason the campaign has been so successful, Brackett feels, is the number of people willing to get involved.

"From the time we started recruiting volunteers for the campaign, we talked to about 60 people before we had anybody say no," says Brackett. "People are impressed with Scouting. They're pleased that their sons and grandsons and other young people in the community can have such a high-quality program. If you read in the newspaper about all the things young people are doing today, you might get depressed and think there's not a good kid in the world. But Scouting has been quietly going about instilling good values in young people every day. People get excited about that."

Bill Latture, council vice president of endowment, left, and Dr. Michael D. Priddy, council president.

John W. Thomas Jr. and his family agree. The one-time donors of a staff building at the National High Adventure Sea Base in Florida and recent donors of $2.1 million to the Old North State Council believe so strongly in the Scouting program and what it does for young people that "we just can't see supporting any other program to that extent," says Thomas. Involved in Scouting himself since having a "grand and glorious time" as a Cub Scout in the 1930s, Thomas has served in numerous local, regional, and national Scouting offices, including those of council president and honorary chairman of the capital fund campaign, president of the Southeast Region, chairman of the national High Adventure Program Committee, and national commissioner. He currently serves on the Old North State Council board and the National Advisory Committee. His wife, Tommie, served as den mother for their boys - all five of whom became Eagle Scouts - and both John and Tommie are thrilled that their oldest grandson has also reached Eagle.

"A gift to Scouting is a very intelligent investment in the f uture of America," says Thomas. "A very, very high percentage of the young people who come out of the program are the kind of citizens we need to go forward in this country."

And as Thomas points out, "The more we can support the program, the wider it can be offered." Every gift from a supporter, large or small, means that Scouting can make a difference in one more community, one more family, and one more life.