To:          North Florida Council Unit Committee Chairs, Chartered Organizational Representatives and Unit Leaders

Cc:          North Florida Council Executive Board, Staff & Commissioners

Fr:          Jack L. Sears, Jr.
               Scout Executive/CEO

Re:         National Membership Fees Announced- Effective January 1, 2020

Dt:          Tuesday, October 23, 2019

The North Florida Council recently informed you that there will be a National BSA membership fee increase beginning January 1, 2020.   Earlier today, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America announced the new annual membership fees.  The information below is provided to you as has been provided to us by the National Council.
Important! 

More than usual,  you are encouraged to attend your respective November District Roundtable to receive the most current information on the process and resources/support that have been planned to assist you and your families as your unit approaches rechartering.
 
Effective January 1, 2020 the membership fee at registration-recharter in the North Florida Council is:

  • $72 per youth member in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts
    • $60 goes to the National Council
    • $12 stays with the North Florida Council
  • $48 per youth member registered in Exploring
    • $36 goes to the National Council
    • $12 stays with the North Florida Council
  • $48 per registered Adult Member
    • $36 goes to the National Council
    • $12 stays with the North Florida Council

What does the National portion of the Membership Fee pay for?

  • Program curriculum development and safety standards development
  • Training curriculum development 
  • Development of Youth Protection resources
  • Conduct criminal background checks on all Scouting leaders
  • Technology development and upgrades such as the new Cub Scout Leader Meeting App and Scout Book
  • Insurance coverage- Costs continue to increase especially at a substantial rate for insurance coverage

Note-  none of this part of fee stays with the North Florida Council

The $12 North Florida Council Insurance Fee is collected,  in order to cover the Council’s costs/share of providing Liability Insurance to over 300 Northeast Florida Chartered Organizations and 4,500 Volunteer Scout Leaders.

Families enjoy Scouting because of its high value and reasonable price. Even with an increase in the National Membership Fee, Scouting will remain significantly less expensive than most youth programs in North Florida, and certainly more impactful long-term.

National BSA will continue to take every measure to reduce operational expenses and the North Florida Council will continue to fundraise locally to support our program and provide assistance when needed. 
 
The staff and volunteer Commissioner Service of the North Florida Council is prepared to help you.  We strongly encourage that the Committee Chair, Chartered Organizational Representative and Unit Leader of your Unit attend your respective November Roundtable.  Our Scout Council Staff and Volunteers have been working on ways to help your unit recharter and pay for the new membership fees.  Among the suggestions in motion at this point include: 

  • Continue to sell Popcorn & Peanuts- “Raise more than you think you will need.”  The second Popcorn & Peanut order is due Oct. 25.   
  • NEW-  We are working on a simple & quick online Popcorn Sale for November & December to help raise funds for Unit Treasuries and will announce at your November Roundtable.
  • We are working to have Camp Cards available at the February Roundtable for unit fundraising.
  • Units should determine if a quarterly dues structure for your families might be more convenient. 
  • Units should revisit your unit budget to make sure fees align with actual costs.

Inform families now an additional fee will be due, and you will notify them in early November of the amount.
The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America is committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. In addition to our existing North Florida Council and unit membership assistance, a national Growing Future Leaders Fund has been established, which is funded entirely through donations, to provide additional financial support to those who need it. 

We encourage you to share this message with your unit’s leaders and decide how you would like to communicate this to your parents.  Frequently Asked Questions on this matter are provided below.

Thank you for your continued role in empowering a generation of future leaders of character through Scouting programs. 

Frequently Asked Questions regarding this News

Q:         Why are the fees increasing now? 
A:         While costs increase every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance we must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. As the organization’s financial situation has shifted over the past several months, it is no longer possible to subsidize at the level we have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically.

Q:         Does this apply to youth members and volunteers?
A:         Yes, the new National BSA fees apply for youth and adult members. Effective January 1, 2020, the new fees are:

  • $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts,
  • $36 for youth members in Exploring, and
  • $36 for adult members (includes cost of background check and Scouting Magazine)
  • $60 for unit charter fees

Q:         The North Florida Council collects $12 at recharter to cover insurance. Does this change mean that fee is no longer necessary?
A:         No, the liability insurance that we need to carry for all Scouting activities at the national level is different from local North Florida Council fees that are collected to address local needs, which can include such as local property and accident insurance, as well as unique local programming costs.

Q:         Is Scouting still a good value?
A:         Absolutely! While most extracurricular activities are seasonal, Scouting is a year-round program that remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women today so they can become the leaders we will turn to tomorrow.  For most of our youth members, the new registration fee amounts to $5 a month, which is an enormous value when you consider that many seasonal extracurricular activities often start at $100 for programs that last a few weeks. 

Q:         Does the fee increase apply to council-paid memberships?
A:         No. The cost for council-paid membership, sometimes known as ScoutReach, will continue to be $24 for each youth member.

Q:         What will the money be used for? 
A:         Every dollar of membership fees will go to cover the cost of essential services, including liability insurance for members participating in approved Scouting activities, background checks for adult leaders, program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to our councils nationwide. 

Q:         Is this increase being implemented to cover the cost of the additional background checks? 
A:         No, the cost of background checks is not the prompting the fee increase. 

Q:         Why is this being announced now?
A:         We recognize the timing of this fee increase creates challenges as units have already begun collecting fees for their 2020 registration renewal process, and we would not make this difficult decision if it were not necessary. Unfortunately, the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. We are committed to supporting you through this process and are making necessary adjustments to the online rechartering system to ensure units can carry out the recharter process. 

Q:         Does this increase cover financial challenges the organization is facing?
A:         The increase was prompted because the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. The national membership fee also enables us program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to our councils nationwide. 

Q:         When will this increase take effect?
A:         The new membership fees will take effect starting January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 program year. 

Q:         Is financial assistance available?
A:         We are committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. In addition to the many existing North Florida Council and unit membership assistance funds, we have established the donor-funded National BSA Growing Future Leaders Fund to provide financial support to those who need it. 

Q:         Some Scout Councils across the Country charge a “Program Fee” in addition to the membership fee . Is that allowed?
A:         Starting August 1, 2020, Local Scout Councils can choose to charge a local program fee, up to but no more than the national membership fee – up to $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; up to $36 for youth members in Exploring and up to $36 for adult members. The local program fee can include local insurance costs (i.e., accident, property, etc.), as well as cost to administer unique local programming efforts. 

                Please note-  The North Florida Council, BSA does not currently charge a Program Fee.

Q:         What measures has the national organization taken to offset the financial challenges?
A:         In addition to ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the organization, the national organization has taken several steps in addressing its financial challenges, including the recent elimination of more than 35 positions at the National Service Center and ongoing consolidation of departments for the most effective utilization of resources in support of Scouting. 

Q:         Will the national membership fee continue to increase?
A:         Although no decision about future increases have been made, the cost of operating our organization and services increases every year. Should it be necessary to increase fees in the future, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has agreed to evaluate the needs and make such decisions, whenever possible, at the National Annual Meeting in May or early in the summer so that they can be announced with as much lead time as possible to allow for councils and units to be able to plan accordingly.  

Jack L. Sears, Jr.| Scout Executive/CEO
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA                   
North Florida Council
521 S. Edgewood Ave. 
Jacksonville, FL 32205
P 800.232.0845  |  F 904.387.4148
D 904.265.3800  |  C 904.945.0050
Jack.sears@scouting.org
www.nfcscouting.org 

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