Exploding an Expensive Scouting Myth


You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But did you know there’s a corollary? It’s “If something sounds too bad to be true, it probably is.”

That saying could apply to the doom-and-gloom advocates of politicians across the political spectrum–as in “If you elect my opponent, your taxes will quadruple, America will go out of business, and your dog will get fleas”–but it also applies to some of the myths Scouters fall for from time to time. This week, Bryan’s Blog debunked the myth that Scouting units must zero-out their bank accounts each year, the logic being that we’re nonprofit organizations.

First, Scouting units aren’t nonprofit organizations; they are programs owned and operated by chartered organizations like churches, schools, civic groups, and businesses, which may or may not have nonprofit status. (Actually, come to think of it, “disorganizations” might be a more apt term for some units!)

Second, consider the case of a true nonprofit organization, like a local nonprofit college, hospital, or place of worship. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if that organization zeroed-out its bank accounts on December 31. How would it make payroll the next week? How would it cover utility costs? How would it…. Well, you get the idea.

In that Bryan’s Blog post, Russ McNamer from the BSA’s legal department offered a good rule of thumb: keep a bank balance that’s no larger than your annual budget. I think you might go higher if you’re saving for a high-adventure troop or a major equipment purchase, but you shouldn’t go so low you don’t have a rainy-day fund. Remember the Scout motto!




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