Never underestimate the value of teamwork. Working together, BSA supporters are building council endowment funds that help ensure Scouting will be around for generations to come.
Dr. George Lowe loves to talk about his days in Scouting. He pauses in the middle of a story to recall a name that slipped away somewhere over the years. He chuckles to himself and apologizes, "I'm 85, and my memory isn't what it used to be."
But Lowe remembers 1928 like it was yesterday. He remembers working with his Scoutmaster, S. Dilworth Young, to make a sleeping bag from mattress ticking and duck down. "The down was closer to being feathers than down," he says smiling.
He used that sleeping bag for years. In fact, he still has it.
Dr. Lowe says that Scouting changed his life and prepared him for the future. Today, through his support of the Trapper Trails Council endowment in Ogden, Utah, Lowe is helping prepare Scouting for the future.
Like Scouts, local councils spend much of their time planning and preparing for the future. One way they do this is through endowment development.
A healthy endowment can benefit a council in many ways. It can be used to finance council and camp capital improvements, hire additional staff members to help deliver the program to more youth, or pay day-to-day operating expenses. More important, an endowment can be a rainy day fund to help councils weather tough financial times without having to reduce services to youth.
In 1993, the National Council launched a nationally coordinated endowment campaign designed to focus attention on endowment development. Thanks to this emphasis and the dedicated efforts of thousands of volunteer and professional Scouters, local council endowments have more than doubled since 1993. Cash and deferred gifts to local council funds reached more than $2.2 billion at the end of 2000.
To support local council efforts, each region has hired legal counsel to assist with endowment issues, while events such as the National Endowment Art Tour have helped educate potential donors and generate interest in endowment giving. Growth has also been fostered through the James W. West Fellowship, 1910 Society, and Founders Circle Award.
One of the most effective of these awards has been the James E. West Fellowship. To qualify, donors must give $1,000 or more in cash or securities, beyond their regular contribution, to local council endowment trust funds.
The Trapper Trails Council, located in Ogden, Utah, is one of many councils that use the James E. West Fellowship to recognize those—like Dr. George Lowe—who endow Scouting. In 2000, the council established an astounding 51 fellowships. Thanks in part to this effort, the council's endowment gained more than $2.5 million in cash and deferred gifts last year. The council has used income from its endowment to support its efforts with inner-city youth and to make much-needed improvements to camp facilities.
Robert Stringham, president of the Trapper Trails Council, says the James E. West Fellowship is a way to recognize those who support the council and heighten awareness of endowment giving.
"It's rare that we have an event where we have a meeting to recognize a James E. West Fellow that someone doesn't come up and hand us a check," says Stringham.
He's also quick to point out that this level of growth didn't happen overnight. It was the result of years of work developing a rapport and trust with the community. Many times, Stringham says, James E. West Fellowships lead to larger gifts later on.
"People feel good about giving once, and, in turn, they give again," he says. "They feel that it is a very worthwhile program. Many times people will divide their gifts between their church and Scouting."
Equally important to a council's endowment program is how the funds are managed. For Jacksonville's North Florida Council, good financial stewardship of the council's trust has been critical to the success of the trust.
The council's trust fund started in 1981 "literally from nothing," says W. W. "Bill" Gay Sr., chairman of the council's trustee committee. Gay, who oversees the council's $10 million trust, gives credit for the council's success to those who have endowed the council, and also the council's shrewd management of the fund.
"We've had an excellent group of trustees, and we have a professional investor adviser managing the fund. It all comes down to outstanding people," says Gay.
The council has used $2.7 million in income from the fund to update and expand the council's camp facilities—a critical element in the life of the council. Even with that investment, the fund still increased by almost $2 million in 2000.
Good financial stewardship has ensured that thousands of young people will not only enjoy some of the finest camping facilities in North Florida, but that Scouting will be around for generations to come.
It's been 73 years since Scoutmaster S. Dilworth Young showed a Scout in a small Utah town how to make his own sleeping bag. Since then, times have changed, but one thing hasn't. Thanks to thousands of supporters like Dr. George Lowe, Scouting is still touching lives and preparing young people for the future.