More than Tying Knots

More than Tying Knots

Greater Niagara Frontier Council of Boy Scouts of America

Buffalo, New York—"Are the Boy Scouts still around?"

That's the question Tim Smith, director of development of the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of Boy Scouts of America, frequently heard before coming to Benevon.

Boy Scouts of America on a hike

The answer Smith wanted to give was that Boy Scouts of America was alive and well, that the Greater Niagara region had 10,500 youth members aged 6-20, and that the organization's mission was to teach scouts how to be better community citizens. But he lacked a method to do so.

Smith says that Benevon felt like a natural way to accomplish that goal.

"The most logical way for us to be doing fundraising was to be talking about our mission and dispelling the myths," he says. "Benevon has given us the opportunity to let people know we are still alive."

To do that, the Greater Niagara Frontier Council created their Point of Entry tour, called "Scouting Today." The tour provides the opportunity to dispel many myths surrounding the Boy Scouts.

Summer swimming fun for Boy Scouts of America

One myth is that the Boy Scouts only work in rural areas, camping, building fires, and learning to tie knots. In fact, the Boy Scouts have a large urban scouting program, which teaches inner-city kids the core values of scouting: developing character, citizenship, and fitness.

Another myth is that the Boy Scouts is all male; there are now many female scouts, and Smith says many female leaders within the community attribute their leadership skills to their scouting experience.

Smith says his team began reaching out by inviting the 2,300 alumni in their geographic area to a Point of Entry tour. Many alumni returned to share the stories of how their scouting experiences changed their lives.

The Ask Event Smith's team held was also filled with such stories, including a woman whose son had Down syndrome.

Volunteer project at Greater Niagara Frontier Council of Boy Scouts of America

"She got up there and said, 'When everyone else said he couldn't do anything, the Boy Scouts allowed him to be someone,'" Smith recalls.

The Ask Event also included a salute to America and a youth-led recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, in order to remind attendees about the Boy Scout's commitment to citizenship.

After two years with the Benevon Model, the Greater Niagara Frontier Council has raised over $700,000, and has fifty-two members in its "On My Honor" giving society.

"We realized that we had all these loyal alumni who weren't being cultivated," Smith says. "This is intuitive—it's what we should have been doing all along. The power of the Benevon methodology is that there is a system and if you use it, it works. The more time you devote to it, the more successful you will be."

The Greater Niagara Frontier Council is now on the verge of starting a capital campaign. Smith says that they have re-engaged their planned giving committee, and that their goal is to increase the number of people in their giving society to 100 people.

Says Smith, "My goal is that this council will always have the funds it needs to do whatever it needs to do. My legacy is that people realize that scouting is alive and well, and we are continuing to do the things we always have."

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