Boy Scouts do their best as fundraisers

Leave it to the Boy Scouts of America with their “Be Prepared” motto to prove that not all nonprofits are doomed by the nation's economic crisis.

The Mecklenburg County Council has not only reached its 2008 fund raising goal of $840,000, but it set an all-time record by $51,000.

Their secret?

“We're not afraid to ask for help,” says Tony Morton, an assistant director for the council that boasts 17,000 youths.

“One of the things that a bad economy does is make people reluctant to ask, because they expect to meet resistance. They expect it to be too tough. But there are always some people out there who are doing better than others, and you have to find them and ask them.”

The $51,000 surplus could be desperately needed should predictions come true of a shortfall in this year's annual United Way campaign. United Way supplies 18 percent of the council's budget, or about $595,000. The agency has calculated that it has so far lost $5 million due to the economy. More losses are expected over the controversy surrounding a $1.2 million pay package given to United Way's former CEO.

“If nonprofits have a good story, and make a good case to the public, they'll still do well,” says Morton. “We teach ethics, values and leadership. And if you look at what's happening on Wall Street, you can see why people support teaching that at a grassroots level.”