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  • #16
    It's worth mentioning that councils are not locked in to Trails End (to the best of my knowledge, anyway). Our council for the first time went with a new vendor, and overall I think it was an improvement over Trails End. It was a local manufacturer who supplied the popcorn, which made for an easier sell. Also quality was reported to generally be superior to Trails End, with prices being a bit more reasonable.

    Not a silver bullet by any means, but maybe it's at least a step in the right direction.


    • #17

      To answer Brewmeisters comparison, while the percentage profit on popcorn may be higher GS cookies outsell BS popcorn at least 100 to one, multiply that out by the number of girl scouts vs the number of boy scouts selling popcorn and its no contest. How often and in how many locations do you even see boy scouts selling popcorn compared to girl scouts selling cookies anymore, it is not even close. Frankly it is easier for a potential customer to let go of a five dollar bill for some cookies than a $20 bill for some popcorn. The BSA needs to come up with an equal quality and similiarly priced and popular product if they ever want to have a truly successful National fundraiser.


      • #18
        Perhaps part of the reason is also that BSA units can "opt out" of popcorn fundraising, but GSUSA troops cannot opt out of selling cookies to choose a different fundraiser. Troops can do an additional fundraiser but not a substitute one.

        EDIT: Just FYI, our pack also sells rolls of trash bags with a price point averaging $4, which gives us about a 40% profit--just a little more than popcorn. We sell these simultaneously with popcorn, so boys can choose to sell one or the other or both. Each fundraiser brings in a similar amount of revenue.(This message has been edited by brewmeister)


        • #19
          I can recall when popcorn was first introduced. The troop was at summer camp and one of the pros came to visit each troop at camp letting them know that the BSA had a new fundraising idea to help supplement a unit's fundraising efforts. It was just that - a supplement.

          Many units had trouble coming up with ways to fund them. Some units sold things like candy, light bulbs, etc. Other units had strong sponsoring institutions which supported their units with plenty of funding. Our troop was and still is well supported by our church. So, we never had a need to supplement our treasury with the council's popcorn.

          But popcorn over the years morphed into something else. And most new units are told that they have to sell popcorn.

          But we still do not sell popcorn nor have we ever had the need to do so. In fact it is one of our recruiting points. When recruiting, we let parents know that we do not sell popcorn in our troop. Instead we have one fundraising activity a year which fuels our troop treasury for the year. A simple pancake breakfast makes us enough funding to keep the price of camps low and the troop well stocked with the necessary equipment to offer a great program to the Scouts that are served thanks to the support of the church and the neighborhood.


          • #20
            I guess one point to make is that popcorn sales programs are developed by the Council to raise funds for the unit AND for the Council. Its up to each Council what the split is, but in many cases, the split is 50:50 between unit and Council. If you use the Trails End model, 30% goes to Trails End for product (and their profit) and 70% goes to Scouting. Certainly, trash bags, fertilizer, Christmas trees, first aid kits, and the like are great unit fundraisers, and may keep the cost of summer camp down FOR THE UNIT. But those fundraisers dont keep the cost of summer camp down for the Councils side of the ledger. Low popcorn sales results hurts the Council, and places a greater burden on the units for other fundraising ventures such as FOS.


            • #21
              We used to sell popcorn in our pack, but the dwindling return compared to the amount of work put in made it not worth it.

              We do 2 fundraisers a year. this year we sold Sees candy bars. we got 50% of the profit from it.

              in the spring we do a walk-a-thon. families can either pay the opt out (minimum fee) or can get sponsors per lap. some families do both. this is a good fundraiser, because there is almost no over head and it promotes exercize.


              • #22
                Council needs to do its own fundraising separate from the units.


                • #23
                  Well, "Council" sorta does its own findraising, its called, Friends of Scouting along with a few other names. So, the troop sells Christmas Tress and Wreaths and then will also sell somehting for Council? Would that work? What we need is a National Product that the public identifies with Boy Scouts like it does with Girl Scout cookies. What would work? Fire Extinguishers? Be good, likely to have a hefty price though. Smoke/CO2 alarms? First Aid Kits? Would would work and be relatively inexpensive, my ideas would cost a lot


                  • #24

                    I don't know of any reason why a unit couldn't sell something like candy bars in addition to popcorn.

                    Many units would like to have a low price sales item for those who don't want to lay out $15-20 for popcorn. Perhaps a candy bar of this kind would fill that bill?


                    • #25
                      Perhaps Pogo (or Walt Kelly) said it best: We have met the enemy and he is us.

                      Our units are the Council. Everyone at this Roundtable is a member of the Council. Frequent cynicisms aside, the Council is designed to exist for the benefit of the units. If we dont raise money for the Council, who will? Raising money for the Council, whether it be through FOS, popcorn, ad sales, recognition luncheons, whatever, means we are raising money for us.


                      • #26

                        I think you are looking at this through rose colored glasses. If the council is forcing units to sell an overpriced product with little consumer demand they are not looking out for your unit's best interests. As far as being part of the council,sometime go in and try to talk with your SE to suggest some changes and see what reaction you get.

                        The council is NOT there for the purpose of working for you, they are there to make sure your unit and its leaders are staying within boundaries set by National.


                        • #27
                          My biggest issue is 4 years ago a unit could earn 35% back as a starting point from our popcorn sales. Over the last 4 years council has started to reduce the % a unit could make. This years the starting was 26% and the most you could earn is 30% but you had to meet all the goals they had set for your unit.


                          • #28

                            Probably a bad strategy.

                            If the council wants to make more money, I wouldn't be surprised if the SMART move would be to increase the payout to units. MORE units might choose to participate, FEWER units would drop out of the popcorn program, and units might increase payouts to families ( directly or indirectly) encouraging families to redouble their sales efforts.

                            My former District Executive is managing the popcorn sale this year. He told me that declining unit participation was a real issue, and we retain the 35% payout --- I think that increases to 38% if units meet an ambitious sales goal set by the council.


                            • #29
                              I have also found the popcorn training to be unhelpful. Please go do the rah rah stuff for the units that are not currently participating in popcorn. I want the tips on running an effective sale and increasing our numbers. I would also like training in using the ordering system and scout online sales.
                              While I wish there was a $5 item, the $10 items sell pretty well. Our pack is in an area where there are other packs just 5-10 blocks away. Our sales have consistently been over $20,000. This funds the pack for the year, with no pack dues beyond national registration. We also pay the scouts' fee for almost all events.
                              Half if our sales comes from show n sells in front of local businesses. Take/sell door to door has also worked better than standard door to door sales. Both of these require a larger popcorn preorder and 2-3 organized people to coordinate it all.
                              That being said, I do wish we had a practical product to sell. Everyone can use trash bags.
                              Most troops (and some packs) around here sell wreaths too or instead. Talking to a lot of units, though, the highest $ producing fundraisers are the pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners.