Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tent? Check. Backpack? Check. Overcount? Check, check, check.

Great. The Boy Scouts are back in the news. The Greater Birmingham Scout Council is being investigated by the FBI for allegedly inflating its recruitment numbers, creating fake units, etc. all apparently to chase more money from funders including the local United Way. Here's a news article.

While I am not happy about this, I suspect that when all is said and done one of the root causes will be arbitrary outcome measures from the funders. I would not be at all surprised if the United Way and other funders were paying for growth, and this pressure led to the temptation to pad numbers. Let's just add 100 or so this year. Next year they want a 10% growth, OK we can do that....and like anyone knows, compounding whether in interest on your mortgage, or lying about past facts and needing to exceed those facts can be a bitch.

No, I'm not blaming the United Way for asking for outcomes. But there may well be a lesson here for funders. Asking for outcomes without giving nonprofits the skills and tools to really count or achieve them is a recipe for cheating. And, as the late pres Reagan famously said: "Trust, but verify."

One more thing: The FBI is investigating the Boy Scouts? The F B I? Don't they have terrorists to catch, or a computer system to fix? I don't get that. I'm pretty sure that this would be the job for the local district attorney, or even the state Attorney General, but the FBI? Huh.


Anonymous said...

...and morally straight.Peter, I have a son in Webelos. One of the things that they focus on is not only getting the kids to memorize the Scout slogan, motto, and law, but to be able to explain what it means. This is tough when it comes to terms like "morally straight". What does that REALLY mean to the Scout organization?

Not only does news like this not help, but it's particularly aggravating when the agenda of the organization steps into the homes of Scouts' parents and goes too far. I'm talking about its "faith" agenda. It should stick to, as your post said, "Tent, Backpack": boys doing healthy boy things.

-- Dorothy

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