Sunday, January 08, 2012

Fund Raising

This is a random church post. Ever since I served in Young Men's, I've struggled with our stake's policy to not do fund raisers. As a leader, I didn't really want to do them because undoubtedly the burden of administering them would have fallen to me. However, after taking all my Scout training (up through Wood Badge) it was clear that we didn't have enough money to really run the Scouting program in our ward as I'd been instructed to do. Due to that, I wanted to do fund raisers.

Our stake's policy to stay away from them was always a bit puzzling to me. I'd attend Roundtable and everybody there did fund raisers; the Scout leaders encouraged doing flags, or popcorn, or something else to raise money. I'd have to sit there and gloss over while they talked finances.

I finally had the opportunity to sit down with the stake president last week and discuss the policy. He first directed us (the bishopric) to these talks from the 1990 General Conference:
Then we talked about Victor Brown's 1975 talk about The Vision of the Aaronic Priesthood, which was a talk Dad incidentally gave to me as soon as I was called as YM president.

The point of these talks was to say that each ward has a budget assigned to them that should be sufficient for the activities and supplies. If not, we ought to simplify. However, even in these talks, they make exceptions for Scouting. 

Then we went over the handbook instructions (Handbook 2, 13.6.8). It says we could possibly do a fund raiser to help pay for a week-long camp or supplies, but then severely limits what's allowed. Take a read:

If a fund-raising activity is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service. It should be a positive experience that builds unity.
Contributions to fund-raising activities are voluntary. Priesthood leaders should take special care to ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute.
Stakes and wards that sponsor fund-raising activities should not advertise or solicit beyond their boundaries. Nor should they sell products or services door to door.
Examples of fund-raising activities that are not approved include:
  1. 1. 
    Activities that would be taxable.
  2. 2. 
    Activities completed with paid labor, either by employees or by contract.
  3. 3. 
    Entertainment for which the stake or ward pays performers for their services, when admission is charged, and when the intent of the activity is to raise funds.
  4. 4. 
    The sale of commercial goods or services, including food storage items.
  5. 5. 
    Games of chance, such as raffles, lotteries, and bingo.
Any exceptions to these instructions must be approved by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.
The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.
After reading over this, the stake president basically threw his hands up in the air and said, "What can we do as fund raisers that fits within these parameters?"

One of the hardest things for me to reconcile was the very last paragraph of the handbook section referring to Friends of Scouting. Our (as a church and a ward) involvement basically goes against all instructions. I told the stake president I felt a bit like I was in the Garden of Eden: Fund raisers shouldn't go door-to-door, don't solicit funds from your members, don't make them feel obligated to contribute, it should provide a meaningful service, etc. Oh, but go ahead and do Friends of Scouting, which is a door-to-door solicitation of funds that provides absolutely no benefit to the actual wards. And we specifically ask those members who gave last year to give this year -- so we're breaking the "no obligation" rule. It doesn't make any sense.

Back to fund raising: I'm really curious what you guys do in your stakes (now and previously) and how they've justified doing fund raisers.


Mike and Adrianne said...

I actually have no idea what our ward does for fund raisers.

Jason said...

This has also been a source of consternation for us also. Especially because we have had up to 4 scout-aged children at a time and scout camp is expensive. This year we are doing a high adventure camp in the Wind River range that has the potential to be very expensive. However, the vast majority of the cost will be covered by the YM budget. We make a conscience decision in our ward to give the YM and YW the biggest budget (how much of the budget does the HP group really need?).

Having grown up in the days before the current budget policies, I can say that our current policy is much more in line with gospel principles.

We have done several things as fundraisers. When I served in the YM presidency, we had a service auction. That worked well but is difficult to organize. The last several years, we have partnered with Cold Stone Creamery. Our youth spend an evening working at Cold Stone and a portion of the evening's proceeds goes to the church. This is an easy fundraiser but it doesn't raise much money.

Good luck.

chelsey said...

I think the fundraiser that's worked best in all the wards we've been in was to partner with Kroger and sell debit cards. The debit cards could be loaded with however much money the person wanted, then when they used the card for groceries or gas purchases, a certain % went directly to our ward scout account. It worked really well since people have to shop for food anyway, and all they had to do was load cash from their reg acct onto the card, then swipe the card instead.

I have a big issue with the Friends of Scouting program though. I don't like it at all. I certainly don't like being targeted because I've given in the past, and I don't like that the funds don't benefit my own scout program directly. I'd rather buy popcorn from a kid in his scout uniform than be pressured to give to the Friends of Scouting.

The YW in our ward washed garbage cans (outside ones) a couple of years ago and made a killing on it! They sent around a sign-up sheet and all they needed was soap, water, and some elbow grease.

Jess and Jen said...

The Kroger debit card violates #4 above. -Jess