Scouts may be thrifty, but some leaders are well paid

Many professional Scouters earn 6-figure salaries across the U.S.

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11 2007 12:09 a.m. MST

He says if Utah councils do not pay well, the top executives will simply go to other councils of similar size — and notes that councils here directly compete with possibly more attractive places to live such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Orlando and Baltimore.

Moore says his accomplishments also help justify his salary. He says membership in his council grew 19.4 percent in three years; customer complaints went from five or so a day to less than one a week; it has reached out to form many new units by faiths other than the LDS Church; its fiscal rating by the BSA went from unsatisfactory to outstanding; and its assets increased 36 percent in three years.

Fund drives

A large percentage of money to run councils — including paying the comparatively high salaries — comes from "Friends of Scouting" drives that in Utah have quotas, potential punishments and church connections not seen elsewhere nationally.

In other states for such drives, Scout leaders visit local troop or pack meetings to explain what councils do, why they need money and to ask for donations. Drives in Utah are far different.

For example, Moore says the Great Salt Lake Council gives "suggested" amounts that LDS stakes (or groups of congregations) should raise. They divide that among congregations, or wards. Wards are then asked to contact every home in their area, whether LDS or not, to solicit funds to meet that goal.

Bishops and other local LDS leaders are often among those personally asking members and neighbors for money.

If a congregation does not meet that quota — or produce "measurable improvement" over previous results, as an information sheet says — its Scouts cannot be in the "Gold Club." Members in it receive 10 percent discounts for summer camps and 10 percent off many supplies sold at Scout stores.

"This is not a penalty per se for not reaching the goal," Moore said, adding it is just a way to thank those who do. "Nearly 10 percent of what we raise through Friends of Scouting goes back as discounts."

He adds that the council tries to keep annual increases in its Friends of Scouting goals small. "If you go out and achieve the suggested amount, we are not going to look at that and say, 'Oh, it was too easy,' and bump it up the next year."

The Ogden-based Trapper Trails Council also uses quotas. But it does not penalize those who do not achieve them, or reward those who do. Barnes said, "We just up front have a lower camp price. So go out and do your best, and we're going to offer you the most competitive camp price in the Intermountain West."

The Provo-based Utah National Parks Council in the past used quotas, Baird said, but has stopped doing so recently.

"The problem with quotas was a ward would go out and raise money until they reached it, and then would stop — not giving an opportunity for all the other people served by that unit to participate," said John Gailey, marketing director for that council.

Mike Plowman, finance director for that council, said, "If there's a new quota, so to speak, it is: reach every home in your boundary. That is because we've discovered through the years that we contact 30 percent of households, which to us is unacceptable because we feel like everybody deserves the opportunity to give."

Moore said he has been around Friends of Scouting drives "all my life, but this is different" using the LDS Church to attempt to contact every household in Utah.

"We have a tremendous blessing that comes to us because of the great relationship with the LDS Church," he said. "We are done (with Friends of Scouting) before most councils in America have even started their campaign."

Fund raising vs. services

Nationally, about 83 percent of spending by Boy Scout councils goes to programs and services for Scouts. Two of the three Utah councils spent less than average, according to 2005 disclosures.

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