Scouts – Nonprofit perspective on Maximization vs. Shared Value

Throughout several years of my childhood, I belonged to a troop as part of the Boy Scouts of America. Each unit has a sponsor organization who receives a charter on a yearly basis from the National Council to operate a troop. Due to the altruistic nature of the scouting program, they are operated on a nonprofit basis. As a result, minimal yearly fees are required by each participant to cover the cost of the charter and programming throughout the year. All adult leadership in the units volunteer, which removes much of the overhead costs for the program and allowing manageable dues for each scout.

As the main goal of the program is to provide a quality experience for all of the participants, troops don’t have to focus on generating revenue for their shareholders like many other businesses. However, they still must focus on smart budgeting and planning to ensure they can keep yearly dues down for the participants while maximizing both the quality and quantity of events available. The number of scouts can be highly volatile year-to-year, so careful cash flow management is necessary due to the minimal savings on hand (for my troop at least). For example, the troop had condensed membership leading into my first year, but the group of kids one year after was far larger and enabled a larger incoming cash flow for the troop. Thus, one method of financial performance maximization could be from recruiting more members into the unit.

Arguably, the most important stakeholders for a scouting troop is the local community and the members (scouts) themselves. Much of the scouting mantra revolves around doing good and giving back, and I participated in plenty of different volunteering opportunities during my time in scouts. Both social and environmental sustainability are emphasized through the programming expected of each troop. Additionally, with the low costs, it could be argued economic sustainability is attained through the minimal barrier to entry for interested kids. Compared to larger nonprofits such as UNICEF or Doctors Without Borders, the stakes for the scout troop are far lower and the impact far less severe if they fail to meet funding targets for a particular year. However, larger nonprofits must both pay many of the staff members and rely on donations for their funding, which if failed to procure could lead to far greater consequences for both their triple bottom line and their longevity as important and influential organizations for good.

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