We've been working on the budget the past few weeks, and it is always a struggle, trying to balance precious resources with more needs than we can address. The staff members are usually modest in their requests. The offices have worn carpets, and I'm a stickler for trying to keep our utility bills down by not running air-conditioning units or leaving lights on when we don't have to. We simply don't spend money on anything other than the girls we serve unless we have to do so.
At a recent training session, a new staff person sat behind some volunteers and received some interesting insights. Their running conversation, while the presentation was going on, was about how much money the "council" took from "their" money. It was unpleasant enough that she asked another staff person who they were.
As the CEO, I always struggle with how to put these issues in the best light. The "council" doesn't horde money. I believe it is my job to stretch every cent this council receives to serve the largest number of girls we possibly can. A $2.4 million budget sounds like a lot of money, and it is. However, just as your family income probably doesn't stretch as far as you would like, so the $2.4 million budget does not stretch as far as we would desire.
We work hard to put comparable amounts of money into each camp property, recognizing that some camp properties have more to begin with than others. This council has 36 bath houses, 36 buildings, hundreds of acres of trees, and miles of dirt and gravel roads. Just as an example, our monthly telephone bill is $4,000. So, when you look at the order of magnitude, $2.4 million isn't very much to spread over our 9,000 girl members. I understand there is always a balance between recognizing and embracing what is the greater good (i.e. good for all girls of this council) and the good of your troop, but I would like to think that most volunteers understand that, in a $2.4 million budget, very little is discretionary.
We don't do extravagant things. Last year what funds we had stabilized roads at Camp Scoutshire Woods and made cabins and unit houses ADA accessible at Camp Humming Hills. I had a volunteer very unhappy with the cost of our strategic learning process, which was dictated to us by GSUSA. This was not a decision we made, and we conducted that process as required. Most of the volunteers that I talk to understand that most of the funds raised through fall product sales and the cookie program provide funding for everything we do. This is all a direct result of girl power. Thanks for all you do to make this endeavor a success.