The Boy Scouts have been a fixture in American culture since 1910. Still, many people see only see a boy scout once a year when they come to the door peddling popcorn.
Selling popcorn has been the go-to fundraiser for troops since the 1980s, and competition to sell enough for their troops’ needs is fierce. Recently, troops have branched out and found new and creative ways to raise funds.
This article breaks down why Boy Scout troops need to fundraise. We will also give you a detailed list of new ways your troop can use to raise funds.
Why does your Boy Scout troop need a fundraiser?
The mission of the Boy Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The oath and law promote virtues like strength, kindness, loyalty, and thriftiness.
When it comes to choosing a fundraiser, it is important to keep these virtues in mind. Fundraisers that Scout members are expected to earn their own way. When choosing a fundraiser, the need for funds must be transparent and not cover items that fall within the normal budget.
The Boy Scouts have recently become co-ed and increased their outreach with programs like STEM Scouting and Venturing. Venturing offers 14 to 20-year-olds the opportunity to rappel a cliff, practice shooting, kayaking, and more. STEM programs are split into elementary, middle, and high school and take field trips focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
STEM scouting, Venturing, and other Boy Scout activities include field trips that cost more than the normal budget can cover. Scouts need to raise funds for uniforms, camping equipment, and other needs. Fundraising for these projects gives scouts a feeling of ownership and thriftiness because they had to work for the privilege.
Fundraising rules for the Boy Scouts forbid gambling and scout members from soliciting money. Selling raffle tickets and many other common fundraising ideas are not allowed. Because of this, creativity in finding new ways to raise funds is critical.
The most common form of fundraising for boy scout troops is selling a product. These fundraisers are most effective because of the low up-front cost and a higher profit percentage. Depending on the product, scouts can make a 30-60% profit on each one they sell.
1. Christmas Wreaths
This fundraiser is almost as common as popcorn sales. As we get closer to Christmas, boy scouts offer Christmas wreaths, garlands, table-top trees, and more festive products for sale by companies like Mickman Brothers, Sherwood Forest Farms, and Evergreen Industries. These fundraisers are no-risk with free marketing products and payment expected at the end of the fundraiser for only the products sold. Your scouts can earn $7-$10 for each wreath. These companies have also changed with the times and offer online sales instead of depending on door-to-door.
2. Flower Bulbs
Another well-known boy scout fundraiser is selling flower bulbs. For example, Dutch Mill Bulbs gives scouts the chance to earn at least a 50% profit on sales with their products. This product is another no-risk option and one that may appeal to a crowd that is passionate about the environment. Depending on where you live, this could be a great option for your troop.
3. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea sales are another way your troop can easily raise funds. Companies like Giving Bean have an easy fundraiser option for your troop to hold throughout the year. This company has a “no up-front cost” sales option along with the chance to buy and sell products. In-person sales have a 40% return. Online sales will give your troop a 25% profit.
4. Candy Bars
This fundraiser is probably the easiest. Who hasn’t bought a candy bar from a group selling candy bars on the street? Whether they are selling Hershey’s bars or a more generic version, your scouts can earn a 60% profit on these fundraisers. The biggest danger in these fundraisers is ordering more than you can sell.
5. Cookie Dough
ABC Fundraising has an interesting take on product sales with their Cookie Dough sales. Scouts can earn an 80% profit on this product, and no up-front money is needed. While on the surface this may seem the same as everything else, ABC Fundraising brings up another idea of how to sell this product. If you are afraid those on a diet will be unwilling to pay for cookie dough orders, your troop can always order cookie dough before the sale to bake and sell while promoting your cookie dough sales. Who can resist freshly baked cookies after all?
6. Meat Sales
For those who do not want wreaths or sweets, Country Meats is offering smoked meat sales for your troop to raise funds. Like the candy bar sales, Country Meats gives scouts cases of Smoked Snack Sticks that can be sold for a dollar each. Your scouts can make a 45% profit on each snack stick they sell. Once again, this fundraiser will cost money before you start to sell, so make sure to order an amount your troop can reasonably sell.
7. Camp Cards
The prime reason for the Camp Card is to send boy scouts to camp. This fundraiser boosts awareness of the Boy Scouts in addition to raising money for your scouts to go camping. These discount cards give vendors a cheap marketing option and scouts the chance to earn a 50% commission on each card sold.
8. Scratch Cards
Scratch cards are another form of discount card with a lottery twist. Donors scratch two or more boxes and the total amount uncovered will be the donation. The total amount is generally around $4 so it does not scare people off. ABC Fundraising sells these cards for $20 each. Scouts earn $100 when selling out all 25 coupon sheets in a scratch card so the profit can be up to 90%.
9. Spinner Cards
Spinner cards are similar to scratch cards. Instead of scratching a card for your donation, the donor will spin an arrow two times to find out their donation amount. Each scout member can earn $200 with this fundraiser. Another benefit to this fundraiser is it can be reused each year. After the first year, your troop will only have to order discount sheets to hand out to donors at $5 for a pad of 50 coupon sheets.
Holding an event may feel overwhelming, but the extra work can be well worth it. In addition to raising funds, larger events allow your scouts to show off their skills and promote the mission and values of the Boy Scouts. Below are a few event ideas your troop can hold to raise funds.
10. Food Events
Events can be fun and successful. Depending on where you live, a pancake breakfast or pork roast can bring in hundreds to thousands of dollars for your troop. Another plus of this type of fundraiser is your scouts will not only sell tickets but will serve their guests and do their best to promote Boy Scout virtues. This is a great opportunity for younger scouts.
11. Car Wash
This is another go-to option that will not steer you wrong. Car washes are easy to hold and can be a fun way for the troop to get together. Let your troop members choose which job best fits their skills. You may have a budding artist who wants to create a flyer. One of your scouts may be a natural leader who can help organize the layout of the event. Others may just want to have fun with water and soap. For $10 a car, you can make a couple of hundred dollars in half a day.
12. Garage Sales
Garage sales are just as popular as the Boy Scouts. Why not combine the two? Have your scouts reach out to their friends, family, and neighbors for product donations and hold a garage sale to support your troop’s activities. Once again, use your scouts’ skills where they can do the most good. Which of your scout members is great with numbers? Do you have someone good at online research? These scout members can oversee pricing!
13. Cake Auctions
The best way to hold a cake auction may be as a part of another fundraiser. Choose a theme for your scouts to stick to and ask them to bake and decorate a cake with their family. At your annual event, hold a silent auction for these cakes and make a few extra hundred dollars.
14. Skills Show
Skills shows are not only an opportunity to raise funds but a wonderful chance to recruit more scouts for your troop. Let your scout members show what they have learned about camping, shooting, cooking, first aid, and more. Ask for a small donation of $5 to enter the event, and show how fun being a scout can be.
Whether it is a person or a dog walk-a-thon, your troop can raise funds and have fun with this event!
Walk-a-thon attendees can pay to be part of your event and you can ask them to find sponsors for each mile they walk. Your troop can make over $1,000 with this event.
Finally, an event that raises much-needed funds is great, but the best fundraisers also promote an organizations’ mission and show the world why they are needed. The following events are the perfect way to advance the mission of the Boy Scouts.
16. Flag Subscriptions
A flag subscription is a way to show the responsibility and ethics of your scouts. Many homes would love to have a flag flying at their home during the holidays but worry about the best way to do it. This unique fundraising idea lets community members pay your scouts to put up and take down a US flag six or seven holidays a year. The only financial cost for your troop will be the price of the flags.
17. Recyclable Product Collections
A recyclable product collection is another unique fundraising idea that promotes the Boy Scout’s values. Have your troop leave a flyer on every neighbor’s house asking for bottles and recyclables. Include a day and time for collection and get your scouts ready to pick up and sort. This environmentally friendly event can make your troop $2,000 in a day.
18. First Aid
The Boy Scouts recommends that each troop teaches their scouts CPR and other first-aid skills. A first-aid fundraiser seems like an obvious choice. First Aid Product.com has fundraiser first aid kits that your troop can sell. Buy them for $5 and sell them for $10. Your troop will get a 50% profit from this sales item and can include the sales in another ongoing event or sell them door to door.
19. Literacy Projects
Can you think of a better service event than a literacy project? Through groups like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, the local library, your scouts can help other children learn to read and find sponsors to support their efforts.
20. Kindness Fundraisers
Raise Craze is an organization working to change the way fundraisers are done. This company offers online services to schools and other groups that want to fundraise based on doing good works instead of selling a product. Users will create custom websites, request donations via email, and pay those donations forward by completing “Acts of Kindness.” What your troop chooses to do is entirely up to you. While not unique in what products they offer, what they are promoting fits well with Boy Scout’s goals and values. If you’re interested in creating your own website and online tools to raise funds, Donorbox offers state of the art online donation services that can help your troop’s fundraising efforts.
Regardless of which fundraiser you choose, all scout fundraising events must be authorized by the Boy Scouts of America through an application process. Make sure your fundraiser fits your troop’s age and skill set and get your scout members involved in as many areas of the process as possible. Remember, member of the Boy Scouts is expected to earn their way, and this is the perfect opportunity to teach this skill.