By Matthew D. Harrison, updated 11-11-2016
Here are the four main topics around budgeting and fundraising, in a suggested order.
- Know the Rules
- Learn the BSA rules. Also work with your sponsoring organization’s rules and leaders.
- Make a calendar. A plan of activities needs to be made in order to come up with a good budget.
- Create a budget. What are the costs associated with your activities and awards?
- Guidelines for LDS Fundraising
- Hold a fundraiser if needed. How much money do you need to raise and for what purposes?
Know the Rules
Learn the rules of your organization and who you have to get approval from for your calendar, budget, and fundraisers. Work with your leaders and the vision they have, and follow BSA rules and have fun with the boys. Make the focus on what the boys need, and not what you want to do. If there are differences between BSA and your sponsoring organization rules, follow your sponsoring organization’s rules.
To really run a successful Pack or Troop you need a Calendar and a Budget. An annual Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop planning calendar goes from September to August. This is to coincide with the school year in most places. You need to have a Calendar in order to create a Budget. Start with the largest events firsts, special activities, camps, Pack meetings, and then work down to the weekly troop and den activities. Plan which Adventures and merit badges the boys need or want to do, and then fill in the calendar. Den leaders should come up with a calendar with three den meetings per month along with what awards they plan on the boys earning each month. Boy Scout leaders should work with the boys to get them to come up with the activities.
/ Trustworthy / Loyal / Helpful / Friendly / Courteous / Kind / Obedient / Cheerful / THRIFTY / Brave / Clean / Reverent
Scouters, both leaders and boys, should learn to be Thrifty. This means that they wisely use the money they have been given, no matter the amount. Everyone can be a part of the budgeting process. Den leaders, Cub Masters, Scout Masters and committee members should be involved with the budget. With good planning, hopefully the dens and pack will receive enough money to run a successful program. A well thought out and planned budget will help unit leaders allocate the right amount of money. Help unit leaders appreciate all that goes into the scouting program with a reasonable request for money.
After having created the yearly calendar, including the monthly Adventures or focus, make sure to list each month what awards the boys will be earning. Then put a dollar amount to the awards based on the number of boys you plan on attending. Remember to plan an actual budget and not a padded budget as this is not helpful to the Unit Leader. LDS units no longer have a use it or lose it rule, although bishops may reallocate budget finances as needed.
Remember that the adventure loops and Webelos adventure pins are now part of the rank advancement process and not elective activities. Previously the belt loops were sometimes treated as optional and some packs would not pay for all earned. These (new) immediate recognition devices are similar to the merit badges of the Boy Scouts and should be purchased by the Pack. For Tiger, Wolf and Bear ranks, boys need to earn a minimum of seven for their rank advancement and it is encouraged that they do an adventure a month and therefore earn an adventure loop a month. For Webelos and Arrow of Light, each need a minimum of seven for that rank advancement also.
Choose activities that are free or inexpensive. If there is an activity that needs to be done or the Pack really wants to do, then make that a priority for your finances, to make sure it gets done.
Den leaders can start the process by planning their weekly activities, then the Cub Master can add the Pack meeting activities to the planning calendar, then the Committee needs to review the calendar. Scoutmasters should plan with the end it mind, meaning the week long camp is the end goal and all other activities are focused on getting there. The committee chair or the finance chair could be in charge of the review process. Then a budget summary request should be submitted to the COR and/or Unit Leader for final approval. Having a detailed calendar and budget will help throughout the next year for planning purposes, occasional activity changes, and potential leader replacements. Remember to start this process well before the budget is due to your unit leader.
Sample Budget Requests
- Click here for Cub Scout example
- Click here for Boy Scout example
- Click here for a link to BSA Planning Your Ideal Year of Cub Scout Program Budget
A final note on Budgeting – if you have combined units, the budget and finances should be kept strictly separate and good notes kept for money transfers and reimbursements.
LDS Specific Information
Fundraising is a part of most non-profit organizations. Traditional packs and troops rely on fundraising and dues as the main source of their finances. This is not the same for the units charted by the LDS Church.
The LDS church handbooks state that fundraising should not be the main source for paying for activities. Activities should primarily be paid for from church funds first, then families should be asked to pay especially for the annual camp, and then fundraising should be considered as a last option. Fundraising should only be used for one annual camp. However, unit finances are to be used in a manner that does not put an undue burden on any family.
Fundraising money is to be kept in the Other accounts, separate from the ward’s Budget accounts. The two accounts are not to be mixed because of strict rules for non-profit organizations from the IRS. For instance, LDS church units should not purchase uniforms for the boys, but a collection of donated uniforms from previous scouts can be used as needed. Scouting awards must come out of the ward Budget and not the fund-raiser. Fund raisers are ONLY for one annual (week-long) camp and cooking and camping equipment.
Other Fundraising Items
All units are encouraged to do free and inexpensive activities. A scout is Thrifty! Also, asking for donations of materials for activities is encouraged. In many places there are local stores, shops, businesses, organizations or restaurants that might donate coupons, free items, or sometimes monetary donations (although this is becoming rarer.) Some businesses have leftover materials such as paper, boxes, or wood that are free for the asking. (For instance when my aunt was a nurse she got the small disposable green caps off of some medical containers and brought hundreds of them to a party to use for Bingo tokens.) When calling businesses, be very specific and only ask for what is needed. Other stores will give discounts to Scouts and Scout leaders, including many hobby shops and toy stores that sell items Scouts use. Ask other scout leaders what they do. This is a good topic to discuss at Roundtable meetings.
Some stores have an annual budget to use for donations to non-profit organizations. These types of requests usually need to be made many weeks or months in advance of an activity, so it can go through their approval process.
However, since many units do have fundraisers, here are some tips and comments and a short list of fund-raising projects. Traditional fundraisers can sometimes bring in enough money, but many times it is good to re-evaluate fundraisers based on these basic guidelines that apply to all scouts:
- Is a group fundraiser absolutely necessary?
- What is your Unit goal for camps?
- Is it age appropriate to the Scouts? The boys should be doing the majority of the organization and work, but guided by the adult leaders.
- No door to door selling per the BSA guidelines. This means that the boys should not be cold knocking on houses that they do not know. Yes, they are able to talk with friends and neighbors by calling them on the phone or knocking on their doors.
- Teach the boys how to sell and do a role play. Wear their uniform and be Cheerful; go out with other scouts and parents; state clearly that their goal is for money for Cub Country or their week-long camp.
- BSA fund-raising permit
- Follow local laws regarding fund-raising and taxable items.
Fundraising Ideas gathered from various websites and other scout leaders.
- Yard Sale
- Pancake Breakfast
- Spaghetti Dinner (do at a holiday, ask for food donations, work on Cooking Merit badge)
- Cinnamon Rolls to be delivered on a specific day
- Family photos
- Service auction
- Dessert auction
- Flower arrangement (for Mother’s Day)
- Recipe books (only do every few years)
- Frozen homemade cookie dough
- Pre-sold pizzas
- Caramel apples sold at a local carnival (one group did it with a family history booth)
- Yard sale
- Selling, delivering and putting in mulch
- Wash city garbage cans ($20 for one $30 for two; you deliver we take back)
- Weekly dessert for 4 weeks
- Sell Mother’s Day gift (chocolates, flowers, etc.)
- Put on a breakfast/Easter Egg hunt
- Sell Christmas Trees
- Christmas tree removal
- Put up US flags on Holidays (normally a Boy Scout Troop activity)
- Do service activities (yard work, painting a fence, wash windows, etc.)
- Hold a recycling Event (recycling used electronics)
- Talent show (and a dinner or snack)
There are Council Events where boys can individually participate such as the Popcorn sales and the Scouting Expo, where the boys directly earn a percentage. These events do not go against any of the fundraising rules of the LDS church, if participated in individually. These events can be suggested and encouraged to the boys especially if the unit is not doing a fundraiser. By individually selling, the boys will really learn to earn their own way and to set goals. A scout works to pay his own way. Right now the cost of Cub Country is $47 and most week-long Boy Scout camps are about $200. Tickets sold for Scouting Expo earn a 15% per ticket commission (30% if the pack does a booth). In this way the boy can figure out how many tickets they need to sell to pay for Cub Country themselves. By learning to do hard work, the scout learns skills early to help him later in life. Also encourage the boys to find age appropriate jobs around the neighborhood to do. Individual sellers will need help and encouragement from their parents.
Money from group fundraising should be carefully accounted for, both what was earned and what was paid out for supplies for the fundraiser. A member of the committee should oversee Fundraising efforts in your pack and keep good records. Don’t forget the: who, what, when, where and why. Units should manage money earned by the Pack and Troop, but families should manage money earned individually by the boys.
It is my opinion that units that pay 100% of the cost for boys to go Cub Country or Webelos Camp, should instead require a percentage from the parents as a commitment that they are going. A free ride does not benefit anyone. A scout is thrifty and a financial commitment will help leaders know the actual number of boys going to camp. In cases where families are struggling, arrangements could be made ahead of time for the boy to work towards earning some money, or to discuss their extenuating circumstances with a Scout leader or COR or Unit Leader. This suggestion is not meant to keep boys from going to camp but to help prevent leaders begging boys to go to camp.
Boys should not be kept from participating in activities if they cannot pay. This means that there needs to be good communication with all parents on the costs of scouting especially for the camps. Let families know as early as possible what the cost is and what portion they are responsible for. That way if there is a problem, a leader can refer them to the Unit Leader or offer suggestions for individual fundraising.
Fundraising is not easy. As people in the neighborhood and community see the Cub Scouts in their uniforms, working hard and working together, they are more likely to donate to a good cause. Let them see the results of donating to help the scouts.
Links to the LDS Church guidelines on Funding, Fundraising and Activities
See the following sections from Handbook 2
- See LDS Church, Scouting Handbook, section 8.15
Summary Questions and Answers about Budgeting and Calendaring
- Should a scout leader pay for gas out of their own pocket?
- Should a boy learn to pay their own way?
- Should a boy be kept from participating because they cannot pay?
- Is individual unit fundraising limited to the local neighborhood?
- Can a boy or family be asked to bring treats to a Den meeting or Pack meeting?
- Can a boy do jobs in the neighborhood to earn money for a scout book or a uniform?
- Who approves the Pack budget?
- Is it optional for the Pack to pay for awards ? Should the Pack pay for more than the minimum awards?
- Why should funds not be used out of own pocket? (Yes I know we have all done this…)
- Can LDS units sell for the Popcorn Fundraiser?
- Yes, as long as it is not a burden on them
- Committee / Unit leader
- Should not be optional. The Pack should pay for all awards in the new Adventure program earned by a boy.
- To keep from creating a hardship or unrealistic expectation on the leaders that come after us.
- No, but individual scouts can.
Other questions with researched answers, brought up during class time:
(will be posted after College of Cub Scouting)
Q: What can I do to help my unit leader help me?
A: Especially when a unit leader is not familiar with Scouting, help them know all the time and money required for the program. Them them what you are doing to become a better leader and what kind of support you will need. Ask questions such as when is my budget due, what was last year’s budget, etc. Also tell them when the scout leader training are, so they can also attend. Let unit leaders know what struggles you are having, the good service projects and advancements the scouts are doing and how you are doing with your budget.