Through endowment, councils develop a degree of self-reliance
and establish a solid foundation of financial support.
Fred Faber, center, endowment chair for central Pennsylvania's Keystone Area Council, holds the Boy Scouts of America membership card he received in 1936 as he shares stories with his son, James R. Faber, left, and grandson, Russell T. Faber.
"When I Registered For Scouting, my membership card bore the signature of President Franklin Roosevelt and I paid 50 cents to join," Fred Faber, the endowment chair for central Pennsylvania's Keystone Area Council, recalled as a reflective grin appeared on his face. "That was in 1936. I believe today's membership dues are very inexpensive at only $7."
To help maintain its affordability, Faber believes, Scouting needs endowment funding. Endowment is one of the best ways to ensure that councils can continue to offer their outstanding programs and grow to meet the needs of youth and communities. Through endowment, councils develop a degree of self-reliance and establish a solid foundation of financial support for their operating and capital budgets. "Because I recognize the importance of Scouting to youth, I am certainly interested in using my personal and professional contacts to further my council's endowment to support more kids in the program," Faber added.
Cash, securities, property, charitable trusts, bequests, and other deferred gifts are just a few of the types of endowment donated to the Boy Scouts of America each year. And every year, the greatest challenge to a successful endowment campaign is identifying and educating people about endowment opportunities that support Scouting. The Keystone Area Council and the Verdugo Hills Council in Glendale, California, are working hard to meet that challenge, developing relationships and effectively communicating the benefits of endowment.
"Endowment could never be possible without people telling their friends and neighbors about how important Scouting is to youth, families, and the community," said Fred Faber, right, speaking with two of his neighbors, Telford and Patti Gilroy.
"Endowment is all about relationships," explained Faber. "Endowment could never be possible without people telling their friends and neighbors about how important Scouting is to youth, families, and the community."
By strengthening relationships, the Keystone Area Council became the first council in the Northeast Region to have 100 council members give $1,000 or more and become James E. West fellows. And the Keystone Area Council is not finished. They recently set a new goal of acquiring 200 James E. West fellows by June 2002. Often, councils form relationships through their volunteers' contacts. But relationships can also be nurtured through special events, like the annual endowment trip offered by the Verdugo Hills Council. The council has offered three endowment trips—two cruises and a stay at Gilwell Park, headquarters of Great Britain's Scout Association, in suburban London. This year's endowment tour will take participants to Hawaii. Over the last three years, the council received endowment gifts totaling more than $2.5 million. Much of that was provided by more than 100 James E. West fellows. The council currently obtains about 30 percent of its annual operating budget from endowment interest.
"The real beauty of using a trip to promote endowment is that it allows us the opportunity to build a long-term relationship," explained Jack Wagner, president-elect of the Verdugo Hills Council. "The trip gives us a reason to get together with potential supporters at least once a year and have fun."
For the fourth consecutive year, Betty and Jack Wagner, front row, are joining friends on an endowment trip offered by the Verdugo Hills Council. As they do every year, Jack—the council's president-elect—and Betty are helping to organize this year's trip to Hawaii. Previous trip itineraries include cruises and a stay at Gilwell Park, headquarters of Great Britain's Scout Association.
Communicating Endowment Benefits
More important, the relationships these councils develop provide greater opportunities for effectively communicating the various ways Scouting and the donor benefit from endowment.
"In addition to the fun and sight-seeing, the trips provide an opportunity to explain how important endowment is to maintaining the continuity of the Scouting program in the council," Wagner said. "They learn how endowment smoothes out the ups and downs in the economy. Plus, the couples realize that no other organization can match Scouting in the values, training, and integrity instilled in youth."
During the cruise, Perry Cochell, Western Region endowment attorney, spent more than an hour with each couple talking about their retirement, their financial goals, and how to solve potential financial problems. And after the cruise, the council continues talking with the couples. In addition to the individual attention, cruise participants attended a session on estate planning and learned how to take advantage of tax savings, leave more assets to loved ones, and benefit Scouting at the same time.
While a trip or special event creates a fun atmosphere to learn about endowment benefits, the important fact to communicate is that by endowing Scouting, people can make a difference.
"The individuals who provide endowments to the Keystone Area Council realize they are making a difference in the lives of youth and the community," explained Faber. Endowment interest is used in three ways in the Keystone Area Council. It funds part of the council's operating budget, helps maintain a Scout reservation lodge, and enabled the construction and ongoing maintenance of a training center.
"Every program has limitations largely due to funding," Faber said. "So if we can increase funding through endowment, we can increase the activities and events the council offers and support more kids in Scouting through times of good and bad economies. I can definitely say that I receive more than I give to increasing the council's endowment. And my rewards take the form of friendships and watching boys blossom into leaders."
"It was a wonderful way to get people involved," said Wagner, the council's president-elect. "You could earn the swimming merit badge by swimming in the pool on the boat. By wearing a tuxedo to dinner on Saturday night, you received the tuxedo merit badge. Of course, some merit badges related to endowment as well. For example, by becoming a 1910 Society member you earned the 1910 merit badge."
As the court of honor concluded, the smile on Jack Wagner's face revealed the pride he felt. Reflecting on the time spent on a seemingly endless number of merit badges, he knew that each of the small, round patches played an important role in his earning the Cruising Eagle patch, the highest award on the five-day cruise.
To provide a new twist to the Verdugo Hills Council's annual endowment trip last summer—a cruise to Ensenada, Mexico—the council created a series of special "merit badges" for participants to complete during the cruise. By earning 21 badges, 11 of which were required, vacationers earned the Cruising Eagle patch.