How to Successfully Recruit Scouting Alumni to Become Commissioners: Commissioner Joe’s Story

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Submitted by Ryan Larson, associate director, Alumni Relations/NESA

This is a story about Commissioner Joe.

Joe was frustrated. He was constantly hearing from district commissioners that they had too many open unit commissioner spots and no one to fill them. He needed some ideas. So he shared his predicament at the next council Key 3 meeting.

The Scout executive told him that every quarter the council received a list of Scouting alumni who had registered with the Scouting Alumni Association and were living in the council’s borders. In fact, the list was available upon request! The Scout executive shared a copy with Joe.

The Scout executive had also brought a list of adult Eagle Scouts to the Key 3 meeting. It contained contact information for Eagle Scouts—both those who received their Eagle Scout Award in the council and still lived there and those who had moved into the area after receiving their Eagle Scout Award elsewhere—as well as those who were members of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA).The Scout executive happily shared that list with Joe as well.

Joe left the meeting feeling like he was closer to finding an answer that would help his district commissioners. He at least now had some prospects who might be interested in helping Scouting. Yet he feared that simply sending an appeal asking them to serve as unit commissioners would scare them off.

So he gathered his district commissioners for a meeting to discuss how they could engage these new prospects, and they developed a plan. They decided to use an incremental approach that would grow the prospects’ commitment to Scouting over the coming year. They created a list of levels of involvement, titled “Tenderfoot,” “First Class,” and “Eagle,” and their hope was to create small but deliberate steps to increase the prospects’ participation in Scouting and thus lead them to consider serving as a unit commissioner. They then brainstormed some activities that would fall under each level and invited the prospects to participate. Below are some of the results of their brainstorming.

Tenderfoot Level

  • Participate in a social mixer with other former adult Scouts at a local pizza parlor.
  • Attend a “Do a Good Turn Daily” service project at the local food bank or other community organization.
  • Attend a “call-a-thon” at the Scout office thanking major donors for their gift to Scouting.
  • Serve on an Eagle Scout board of review.
  • Share a story of a favorite Scouting memory for publication in the next council newsletter.
  • Take a guided trip to the council camp during the summer.

First Class Level

  • Participate as a guest instructor at a merit badge fair.
  • Serve on a work party at the council camp.
  • Judge a pinewood derby.
  • Give a demonstration at a troop meeting.
  • Assist with camporee.
  • Write a letter to a Life Scout encouraging him to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Eagle Level

  • Attend a council fundraiser.
  • Attend a unit meeting.
  • Attend a training course.
  • Have lunch with a board member.
  • Take Youth Protection training.

Once a prospect had completed one activity from each level, the district commissioner and/or the council commissioner would approach the prospect and ask him or her to consider serving as a unit commissioner.

They then worked their plan.

Some activities were more successful than others, but they methodically began adding more and more prospects and worked them through the respective levels.

By the end of the year, they had 20 individuals at the “Eagle” level who were primed and ready to be asked to serve as a unit commissioner. They set meetings with all of them and found that many were happy to serve.

Joe was happy!

Steps to Engaging Scouting Alumni

  1. Secure a list of registered BSA alumni and Eagle Scouts from the Alumni Relations Department at the National Council by calling 972-580-2032.
  2. Brainstorm a plan with district commissioners that includes levels for prospect engagement.
  3. Deliberately work each prospect through each level of the plan. Once a prospect has participated in an activity at each level, ask him or her to serve as a unit commissioner.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3.