Mount Baker Council’s Steps to Sustainability

August 31, 2020

Mount Baker Council’s Adult Volunteers and Supporters,

For the sustainability of the Mount Baker Council and the youth we serve, the Mount Baker Council Volunteer Executive Board has approved a reduced spending budget for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year based on the serious impact of COVID-19 on our current and projected income projections. The Mount Baker Council has a strong fiscal stewardship tradition, strengthened significantly in the past decade through the volunteers of the Executive Board and guidance from the Council Finance Committee as well as our Council staff. It has always been our goal to deliver a balanced budget by year-end. As many of you have had to make much needed but uncomfortable decisions regarding your own personal budgets during the pandemic, the Mount Baker Council has had to make similar decisions regarding our 2020 budget so we can live within our means.

We’re thankful to our Scouting from Home, Safe Start to Summer Camp committees and our Scouting units that have been working to find creative ways to keep Scouting programs available for our youth during this pandemic and financial crisis. As we head into the fall, it is imperative that we continue this work and more, so that we may continue keeping our youth engaged and involved. The Scouting program is too important to put on pause.

Our Council’s income from support through Friends of Scouting, Special Fundraising Events donations and revenue from Trading Post sales, Camp Card Sales, and Camping/Activity programs (including Fire Mountain Scout Camp) is dramatically down by $700,000 at the end of July 2020 when compared to July 2019. While we are trying to be optimistic during this pandemic that our donors and supporters will continue to support our youth programs at past levels, nearly every key fundraising and revenue-generating event has been canceled or postponed since March 2020 and revenue from fundraisers and events such as the fall unit popcorn sales are projected to be half of original budget expectations.

The Council Board and leadership team have taken many pro-active steps during this time to address the expected revenue shortfall. We applied for and received a PPP (Payroll Protection Program) forgivable loan. We are increasing our draw on the endowment, and plan to capture all the money in our “rainy day fund.” Furthermore, we received a major gift from Janicki industries, a capstone gift to support the Strictly Business Patch Campaign from the Nysether Foundation, and additional major gifts from a few private individuals. We are thankful for the support of these terrific donors and the forethought of our previous leadership to build “rainy day” funds. While these actions have been extremely helpful, our Council income is still projected to fall short of fully funding our program needs.

We have been able to reduce Council expenses through cost-cutting measures by an additional $250,000 through this same period (Jan-July) and are planning additional cuts in expenses through the end of our budget year, but we must have further resources to continue our quality operations on a daily basis. It is a financial tenant of our organization to deliver a balanced budget that meets our program needs. Furthermore, we are committed to maintaining this core principal during the pandemic. As a result, and for the sustainability of the Mount Baker Council and the youth we serve, there are several adjustments we are implementing to ensure our budget continues to drive the much-needed program for our youth.

Based on the income projections and the additional reductions in spending, effective immediately (September 1st), the Council will be embarking on a new pathway to balance our operating budget by year-end. These decisions are not easy, but critically necessary to pursue a balanced budget. Some of the cost savings will be accomplished through the following actions:

  • Reducing our employee compensation and benefits budget through staff restructuring and furlough days. Through restructuring of our full-time and part-time staff, the Council Staff will be reduced to 61% of the staff count on January 1st. Actions to be implemented:
    • As of September 1st, three full-time staff roles that are currently vacant (Pilchuck DE, North Cascades DE and Fundraising Administrative Assistant) will be eliminated from the staff structure.
    • As of September 1st, the following staff members will be laid off immediately and the responsibilities of those positions will be merged in the new staff structure.
      • Jose Rodriguez, Salish Sea District Executive (full-time)
      • Carol Stobbe, Everett Service Center Trading Post Manager (full-time)
      • Vangie Visocky, Everett Service Center Trading Post Salesclerk (part-time)
      • Jeanette Clark, Bellingham Service Center Trading Post Salesclerk (part-time)
    • The remaining full-time staff will be required to take ten unpaid (temporary furloughs) days off before the end of the year. To accomplish this cost savings, the Everett Service Center will be closed, and our Council Staff will have one-day furloughs for a total of ten days (normally every other Friday) until year-end. Calendar of closures will be on our website.
  • Reducing fixed and variable expenses by taking the following actions:
    • With the closure of ten days for the furloughs through year-end, we will be saving costs in utilities at the Everett Service Center.
    • There will be no Saturday Trading Post hours at the Everett Service Center until the Everett community achieves Phase 4.
    • Starting September 1st, the Everett Trading Post will be closed during 11:30 am to 12:30 pm due to the reduced staffing.
    • To better coordinate services and sales, the Bellingham Service Center and Trading Post will be closed as of September 1st until further notice.
      • With the elimination of the Trading Post Salesclerk service position in Bellingham, the Trading Post operations will be handled through the Everett Service Center. Units that have normally utilized the Bellingham Service Center will be able to place orders through the Everett Trading Post via phone or email (MBCtradingpost@scouting.org). Orders received by 4 p.m. will be shipped by the next day (shipping and handling fees will be added to order total), dependent on the inventory.
      • The phone services at the Bellingham Service Center will be shutdown. All units and volunteers should call the Everett Service Center at 425.338.0380 for support or their local District Director.
      • There will be cost savings from reduced utilities usage, elimination of phone and copier contracts as well as other reduced expenses associated with the facility closure.

The past five months have been extremely difficult on all of us, including your Council staff. This pandemic and the restrictions imposed on our communities have forced all of us to operate on new terms. The restructuring of our staff and the closure of a facility are steps that our Council did not want to implement, but crucial to being good financial stewards. Each of the staff members released from our team have been working hard on your behalf during these unprecedented times. We wish them well.

How can you help us deliver the mission of Scouting and ensure a fiscally strong and independent Council in 2020 and beyond?

  • Ensure that your units and Scouts are participating in weekly Scouting meetings or activities, even if it is virtual.
  • Ask your Scouts to invite a friend to join Scouting this Fall.
  • Have your Scouts earn great prizes and unit program funds by selling Popcorn online.
  • Attend and buy items at the virtual auction on Saturday, October 3. Invite friends and family to join you online. Donate, or solicit donations, of items for the auction.
  • Attend and donate at a virtual community Good Scout Breakfast or Luncheon. There are many planned for the fall.
  • Participate in the Pull for Scouting Clay shoot in November.
  • Renew your past Friends of Scouting donation and sponsor a Scout or more ($205) if you are able.

This is a call to every adult volunteer to actively participate in ways to ensure the sustainability of our Council for the present and the future. We have an amazing opportunity to strengthen our organization during this crisis but cannot do so without your support. If you have the means, we need your increased financial support this year. If you have not already actively involved your friends and associates on behalf of Scouting, now is the time.

This letter is not intended to diminish the hardships we have all faced; between COVID-19 and health related concerns, job loss, civil unrest, and political turmoil, our hearts cry out for healing. However, we need to underscore the challenges facing Mount Baker Council and its ability to create life-changing experiences for our youth and families.

We plead for your help and leadership to ensure our organization can continue to fulfill our mission of delivering Scouting’s values to our young people. We know that with the support of our Board, our unit leaders, and our community the Mount Baker Council can come out of this experience stronger and  continue to provide the programs and services for the Scouts in our community.

Scout On!

Steven Davis
Council President

Kevin Nichols
Scout Executive