Boy Scouts Of America


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It was in the early 20th century that the Boy Scouts of America was founded. It started when a British Army officer, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, was stationed in India and found that his men did not know the basics of survival and first aid. Baden-Powell wrote a handbook called Aids to Scouting, this handbook spread quickly and became popular among young boys. That same year over 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally held at the Crystal Palace, within two years memberships had tripled. The organization promotes charity work, resourcefulness, teamwork, and leadership skills.

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The Good

  • Inexpensive fundraising expenses
  • 83.6 percent program delivery

Total Income

Boy Scouts of America does not yet have their 990 IRS form online for 2015. Annual revenue for BSA is largely built of membership dues. The revenue has grown for the last several years, with the exception of 2012-the year the BSA announced that boys who were openly homosexual were no longer banned from being members of Boy Scouts.

  • 2014: $252,600,778
  • 2013: $239,799,793
  • 2012: $191,960,296
  • 2011: $218,296,402

Administrative Expenses

Reported on Boy Scouts of America's 2014 Form 990 were administrative expenses of $37,025,275. BSA appointed a new Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh, who began his service on October 1, 2015. Mr. Surbaugh's salary has not been publicly announced or published at the writing of this review (August 2016). The prior Chief Scout Executive, C. Wayne Brock, had an annual salary (2014) of $562,676, which was 0.23 percent of the total revenue of Boy Scouts of America. Robert A. Tuggle, the CFO for Boy Scouts of America, had a total salary of $763,709 (0.31 percent of total revenue) which was reported in 2014.

There are many reports of people being unhappy with the high salaries the administration receives, with people saying that BSA runs on volunteer service while the highest employees are paid extravagantly. The relative percentage of funds which goes to administration and to corporate salaries is high when compared with other charitable organizations.

Fundraising Expenses

Of the Boy Scouts of America's 2014 revenue, $2,916,972 was spent on fundraising expenses. This was far lower than the percentage used by other similar organizations.

Program Percentage

Boy Scouts of America used 83.6 percent of their 2014 revenue on program expenses. This percentage is higher than many other organizations, largely because the overhead for salary is comparably lower due to the bulk of the program which is offered by Boy Scouts of America is delivered by volunteers.

Donor Communication

Boy Scouts of America sends their print magazine and email newsletter to all those who have registered with the organization.


Boy Scouts of America has many internal awards which can be awarded to Scouts or volunteers. These can be awarded by the local Boy Scout Council or by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Bad

  • High salaries for administration
  • Financial transparency
  • Negative press

Accessible Financial Information

Finding financial information on BSA's website can be challenging. Significant information is offered regarding volunteer support and resources for the scouts themselves, but there is no clear link to find annual reports, etc. on the front pages. There is also a lack of transparency, whether intentional or accidental, in that to examine prior years' information, the links direct users to the current (2015) annual report. Boy Scouts of America could improve transparency with financial records greatly by adding these files in addition to their IRS Form 990 as well as making them more accessible online.

Negative Press

Boy Scouts of America has had their share of negative press and controversies through the last several years. These have included the organization's stance on openly homosexual Scouts and Leaders, the refusal of BSA to accept girls in California, and new guidelines for Jamboree which exclude obese boys from participating.

Homosexual Scouts and Leaders
Until 2012, scouts who identified as homosexual were not allowed to enroll with the BSA. This ban was overturned in 2012, which resulted in backlash from groups, particularly religious groups who felt that Boy Scouts of America was inviting or encouraging homosexuals into scouting. The leadership stated that the ban on homosexual leaders was also unsustainable. Openly homosexual leaders have been able to serve as Cub and Boy Scout leaders since 2015. This created an uproar and several conservative religious groups left or did not renew their charters with Boy Scouts of America.

Girls in Boy Scouts
Throughout the last several years, there have been isolated incidents of girls wanting to join Boy Scouts of America. The latest is a group of girls, called the Unicorns, who had been attending Cub Scout activities, Pack Nights, etc. with their brothers. The girls enjoyed these activities more than they did Girl Scouts. When the local Boy Scout Council learned about girls participating in these activities, they were asked to stop. The girls turned in official Boy Scout applications into the local council which were forwarded to the national organization. Their memberships were denied and as the Boy Scouts, like Girl Scouts, are a chartered corporation by Congress, and are able to maintain a gender-specific membership.

Jamboree and Obese Scouts or Leaders
Beginning in 2016, Boy Scouts of America will not allow Scouts or Leaders with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 40 to participate in Jamboree. Those with BMIs between 32 and 39.9 will need to provide additional health information before being allowed to participate in Jamboree.

The Bottom Line

Boy Scouts of America has a long-standing tradition to help boys develop character and become self-sufficient with outdoor skills and adventures. There has been a decline in membership over the last several years for various reasons, some of which are the organization's shift from banning homosexual youth and adults from participation. Others have stated that the programs are no longer significant or that there are not enough volunteers to maintain the program in some areas.

In spite of this, Boy Scouts of America maintains its viability and appeal to many. With a solid volunteer network, Boy Scouts delivers a program which teaches character and outdoor skills to boys aged 7-20. The organization uses a significant portion of their revenue to support programs to meet these goals.

Donations can be made to the National Council or to the Local Council. These donations help to support the program or to provide scholarships for boys whose families are not able to pay for the various scouting expenses, which can be significant. Donors can also support wounded veterans for the annual Veteran's Appreciation Day at Summit Scout Camp for wounded veterans and their families.

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