We had a Monthly Scout Chat live video on June 11 to answer some of the most common questions we've received, and also answer new questions. Find that video here or you can see just the presentation
Annual Program Registration/Renewal FAQ’s
See below for Q and A on General Questions, Financial Assistance, Fundraising and Friends of Scouting
Yearly Program Registration/Renewal General Questions
Q: What is the yearly program registration/renewal process?
A: Northern Star is working to support our families and our units in having a single point in time for new and returning youth and adults to register and/or renew their membership and have the process in sync with the Scouting year. Volunteers and parents, for years, have been asking that the annual program registration/renewal process should follow the school year and program year. No longer will units need to recharter their youth and adults at the end of the calendar year.
Q: How will families and individuals complete their program registration and/or renewal?
A: Everyone will complete their yearly program registration/renewal and pay through an online registration system. Starting August 1, registration and renewal can be found at www.adventureiscalling.org.
Q: What is the yearly program registration/renewal amount?
A: The amount for the 2020-2021 Scouting year will be $180 per youth. The registration amount for new youth will be pro-rated based on when they join throughout the Scouting year. The amount for adults will be $42 for the Scouting year. The registration amount for new adults will be pro-rated based on when they join throughout the Scouting year. The registration/renewal system will be opened on August 1, 2020 for the 2020-2021 Scouting year.
Q: Why is the program registration/renewal amount increasing?
A: Northern Star Scouting wants to ensure that Scouting is sustainable now and into the future for local scouts. Scholarships are available for families in need. Our goal is to hold these amounts stable for three years and shield families from the national registration fee increases that are already planned for each of the next three years.
Q: What does the program registration/renewal fee pay for?
A: The program registration fee supports keeping the Scouting program strong for local youth and adults. Included in the fee is $20 to be transferred to the unit account for each youth who is paid in full August-October, National BSA registration fees, and insurance coverage. The net revenues from the new program fee will be equal to the historic levels of funding that came from Family Friends of Scouting contributions.
Q: Do all youth members pay the same fee?
A: Yes. All youth members - Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA or Venturers - will have the same fee. New youth joining during the program year will pay a pro-rated fee based on when they join.
Q: Who can register and pay online?
A: Everyone! All youth and all adults, new and returning, can register or renew their registration online.
Q: New adult leaders can pay and register online?
A: Absolutely! This is a value-added benefit of the new process that we are now able to offer. All new adult leaders now have the option to register online. New adult leaders can still register with a paper application; however, the entire registration process can be done online if they so choose.
Q: Can a family register multiple family member at one time?
A: Yes, all family members can pay online with the same registration as long as they are in the same unit. If family members are registered in different units, such as a pack and a troop, they will need to register with each of their units; this can all be done online.
Q: Is there a pro-rated fee for individuals that register during the Scouting year?
A: Yes. All new youth and adults who join during the Scouting year will pay a pro-rated registration fee.
Q: What if I am unable to register online?
A: Paper applications and registration/renewal fees will still be accepted and can be turned into Base Camp. The preferred method of collection will be through the online registration system.
Q: Can Boys’ Life be paid for online?
A: Yes, when completing the participant information, you will be asked if you would like Boys’ Life. Boys’ Life has always been available to members as an option and will continue to be available as an option.
Q: Can I choose to donate additional funds to support a Scout in need?
A: Yes. When completing the participant information, there is a question at the end of the registration process with an opportunity to give additional dollars for a Scout in need. Any amount can be given, and this donation is tax deductible.
Q: Do all fees need to be paid at once?
A: No, there is an option to register and pay in installments. You can pay half when completing the registration and pay the second half a month later, and your unit account will still be credited with $20.
Q: What if I can’t pay all of my yearly program registration/renewal fee?
A: Financial assistance is available at the individual level for those families in need. When completing the participant information there is a question that you can answer if needed, to request a scholarship.
Q: As a Committee Chair/Cubmaster/ Scoutmaster/ Crew Advisor of a unit, how will I know which families have completed their yearly program registration/renewal?
A: Every Friday through the fall months you will receive a report that tells you who has completed the registration process. This report will include a list of returning adults and youth as well as new adults and youth who are joining your unit.
Q: Can unit leaders go into the site for an individual youth or complete the registration and make a payment?
A: No. Registrations are at the family level and only they can access their registration.
Q: If a youth is planning to cross over from a Pack to a Troop, which unit do they register with in the fall?
A: They should register with the unit they are currently participating in, the Pack.
Q: Do youth or leaders transferring from one unit to another need to go online and complete the program registration process?
A: Yes. Go to www.adventureiscalling.org and register in your new unit under the transfer/multiple option.
Q: How can Northern Star charge a program fee that is more than $66, which is the National Office limit?
A: It is our responsibility to keep local Scouting strong in our units, for our families, and across our Northern Star communities. We have been testing a new business model to accomplish that for the past four years, as announced in our letter to all families last October.
The National Council is doing more and more direct communication with individual Scouters and Families in recent years, including announcing directly to all what the new national registration fees will be. They have stated that local councils are authorized to charge a council program fee in addition to national fees, but the approximately 250 local councils will be implementing widely varying program fees based on local conditions – so there is a great deal of confusion that results from the national announcement. Northern Star Council is a separately incorporated, locally governed entity that manages our membership registration and charter renewals through our own online and paper systems. Our board of Directors has determined, based on our successful testing of this new business model for the past four years, that we should set our fee at a level that (a) protects our families from the announced national fee increases in 2021 and 2022, (b) that does not pose a “barrier to entry” for new members by charging them an extra $25, and (c) that supports our ability to not turn any family away based on their ability to pay, versus capping our council program fee at $66 and then having to turn families away when they cannot afford to pay.
Financial Assistance Questions
Q: Who can request financial assistance?
A: Anyone with a financial need who is unable to register and/or renew for Scouting without assistance.
Q: How do I request assistance?
A: Financial assistance requests are part of the online program registration/renewal system. Follow the links to sign up and select “Are you applying for Registration Financial Assistance?” when filling out your Scout’s information. Complete the form that pops up and click Submit.
Q: Do I need to wait to hear back before registering?
A: No, you continue with the online program registration/renewal process. Once Northern Star receives the electronic financial assistance request and your program registration/renewal, then they are submitted for approval.
Q: I filled out the Financial Assistance Request form, do I really need to go through the program registration process?
A: Yes! The program registration is needed in order to process your request and get you registered and/or renewed for Scouting.
Q: How much can I request?
A: The typical assistance request can be up to 50% of the total cost, based on your need. This is like the practice we use with support to attend camp (Campership process). It is important to pay what you can, as we will not be conducting Family Friends of Scouting fundraising asks in the future.
Q: Does the financial assistance cover unit dues?
A: No, the financial assistance only covers the Northern Star Scouting yearly program registration fee. We ask all units to communicate their budget and fundraising plans to new families, but to not collect unit fees until later in the fall.
Q: Do I have to pay upfront?
A: The amount of assistance requested is taken off your total before you check out. You only pay the amount you have specified you are able to, up front or in two payments.
Q: What if I can’t pay 50% of the fee?
A: You can still join! Give a brief description of your circumstances in the online financial assistance request form and someone will review your request and will contact you if more information is needed.
Fundraising to Support Costs Questions
Q: Are units allowed to charge or collect unit dues?
A: We do not encourage units charging additional unit dues. We encourage units to set their budget and include fundraising opportunities for youth to earn their way. If a unit chooses to charge unit dues those dues will need to be collected directly at a unit level.
Q: Can popcorn sales or unit fundraisers be used to cover costs for registration and other Scouting costs?
A: It is up to your unit. We encourage all our Scouts to “earn their own way” through selling popcorn. Popcorn sale commissions can be used to pay unit dues, camping fees and anything else Scouting related, and the unit can develop practices for reimbursing families for such costs.
Q: Is the popcorn sale all about money?
A: No! Scouts learn valuable skills such as budgeting, communication, salesmanship, working with others, goal setting and more.
Friends of Scouting Questions
Q: Will the annual program registration fee be tax deductible?
A: No, the program registration fee is not considered a charitable donation, it is a registration cost.
Q: Will units be expected to conduct a Friends of Scouting unit fundraising presentation?
A: No. Units will no longer be asked to conduct a Family Friends of Scouting unit presentation. Units may choose to continue holding a Friends of Scouting presentation on their own if they would like, but the council will not be asking you to schedule them.
Q:My unit met its FOS 2020 goal. Will we still receive our recognition items?
A: Yes, units can collect their recognition items through May 31 of 2021.
Q: Since my matching gift and volunteer hours are not going toward my unit’s FFOS goal, can those dollars go to our unit’s bank account?
A: Only 501c3 non-profit organizations like Northern Star Scouting can accept these contributions. Matching gifts will remain an important source of support for families who may need scholarships to participate in Scouting and we ask for your continued support to leverage your employer’s generosity for Northern Star Scouting.
Q: Is Friends of Scouting going away?
A: Scouting is funded by generous individuals, families, corporations and community members and we will continue to need this support moving forward to keep local Scouting strong. The Friends of Scouting campaign will focus in different ways, no longer through unit FFOS presentations, to raise dollars to support local Scouting programs.
Q: Can an entire unit opt out of the yearly program registration fee and participate in Friends of Scouting instead?
A: No. The annual program registration/renewal process is a business model change and is being implemented council wide. Scholarships are available for families in need.
Q: How are scholarships funded?
A: Through generous Friends of Scouting donations from Scout families, community partners, and foundations, as well as the program fee itself, as we absorb National joining fees and fee increases.
This letter was sent via email or postal mail to all Scouting families on June 1
Dear Northern Star Scouting Family,
We hope you and the other families in your group are staying safe and well in these challenging times. All of us are learning to do things in new and different ways, and we’ll continue to do so in the months ahead.
I’m writing today to share the final plan for one of the big Scouting changes that was underway well before the Covid 19 pandemic emerged. Our annual program registration/renewal process has been called rechartering in the past, but for four years now we have been testing a new registration fee model with 1,000 Scouting families in our core Minneapolis district.
Beginning on August 1, 2020, the start of our new program year, every family will pay their children’s annual program fee online, rather than asking unit volunteers to collect and submit these fees. This fee is inclusive of the next increase in national registration fees to $66, the newly announced $25 new member joining fee, and we anticipate that we will be able to shelter our families from the increases that are planned for 2021 and 2022. This fee will also more closely reflect the full cost of Scouting in Northern Star Council, thus eliminating Family Friends of Scouting group solicitations.
This new approach:
- Provides an easier, fully online registration and payment process for all new and returning youth and adults. (Yes, new adult leaders can now register online, no paper applications needed)
- Enables Scouting volunteers to focus their time and energy on program delivery by reducing time spent on registration and Family Friends of Scouting fundraising.
- Ensures quick and confidential access to scholarship assistance for families that need it.
- Delays the need for collecting unit fees at the time of joining. For each youth member fee that is paid in full August through October, $20 will be transferred to your unit’s account, for use as needed to pay for rank advancements, handbooks, camp fees, etc.
- Responds to family requests to “just tell me what it costs up front”, rather than collecting a low fee that requires a labor-intensive follow-up fundraising ask.
- Creates a process that leads to sustainable Scouting for years to come, but no more revenue than Family Friends of Scouting historically provided.
The annual youth registration fee will be $180, covering the costs of delivering Scouting locally, the national membership fees, and insurance. Adult fees will increase to $42 and will be payable online for the first time.
You will receive an email and/or letter in late July with a link to a secure registration page on our website to register for the 2020-21 program year and pay these fees in full, or in two installments, as well as request scholarship assistance if needed.
We wish Scouting could be available to all at zero cost, but high-quality programs require sustainable funding. Our volunteer task force, board, and staff believe this new approach makes that possible.
More information, including frequently asked questions, can be found on our website, as well as contact information for the staff and volunteers who serve your specific families. They would be glad to answer questions and provide additional details.
We hope your family is having a great Scouting experience, and we are committed to ensuring that Northern Star Scouting programs continue for your children today and tomorrow.