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  • anyone NOT selling popcorn?

    another thread made me think of it.... It was suggested recently, that next year we might consider not selling popcorn, and do our own thing instead.

    we do well with popcorn, but this year sales were down.... I think partially because it's just too expensive and thanks to the economy folks can't justify it.
    Seems to me that popcorn is a high return per unit sold activity.... as opposed to something like selling candy bars at $1.00 a pop. You have to sell quite a few candy bars to make the return of one bag of golden corn.

    ..... but a question comes to mind.... if we don't sell popcorn, council isn't getting any $$$ from us except dues. I'm guessing that would be frowned on, but really doesn't seem like anything they could control.

    Is there some rule about doing non-sanctioned fund raisers?

  • #2
    Popcorn is the main fundraiser for my son's Cub Scout pack. The troop that he is joining lets boys sell popcorn if they want, but doesn't push it. I don't think there are any rules about non-sanctioned fundraisers, but you are supposed to submit a form to your Council for approval to do any type of fundraiser. I suppose if you weren't selling popcorn and weren't participating in Friends of Scouting, the Council may not look too kindly on your fundraiser request if they are not getting any funds from your unit.


    • #3
      Council doesn't get dues, unless your Council charges dues on top of national. Our council doesn't pay dues. They really want us to do their two fundraisers, but several units refuse to do popcorn (we apprehensively tried it for the first time this year, had a smashing success).

      If your only involvement with Council is to show up at re-chartering, fine, skip their fundraisers. But if you want a good relationship with Council, I highly suggest participating in the fundraisers and urging the parents to give SOMETHING to FoS.

      We applied to do a fundraiser for a niche product, we were rejected. That year we hadn't done popcorn, and didn't do camp cards the prior year. We did camp cards that spring, popcorn this fall, and I can't tell you how much of a change in attitude I get from everyone I deal with at Council.

      At a district round table, someone came out and spoke to us about fundraises. Our DE said, if you're not doing our fundraisers, make sure you do some fundraiser.

      I have a really good relationship with my DE, but our doing the fundraisers helps him make his numbers. In turn, he helps me wherever he can.

      Others have problems with Council, but a lot is expectations. Council's job is growing units. The definition of a good program is, are scouts joining, are scouts retaining, and are scouts advancing. If you take an adversarial position with council, you'll get away with it (they serve you), but it creates more conflict than is necessary.


      • #4
        you bring up many points Pack18alex
        Honestly, aside from running the store, processing the member applications, and maintaining the scout camp properties that we don't get a lot of use out of anyaway....I don't see that we get much of anything out of council. granted that's just my perspective, but that's how it is.... They aren't helping to grow our numbers and they aren't helping us put on a better program..... imho
        What little training is offered seems to be solely facilitated by volunteers
        The round table seems to be staffed by volunteers in a facility that I'm guessing is donated. (church)
        .... so I'm not really sure on the cub level what would be gained by maintaining our "good relationship" with council..... I'm assuming anyway, that we have a good relationship, since we are one of the more lucrative packs in the area in terms of popcorn, and relatively large membership roles.
        Short of something in-appropriate such as selling dirty magazines...., I can't imagine why they would not approve a fundraiser. What was the "niche" product that they rejected for you?


        • dedkad
          dedkad commented
          Editing a comment
          Our council provides a fair amount of training too. Although the training is run by volunteers, someone needs to coordinate it. The council has expenses, so we all need to contribute our share, but the majority of funds should definitely be kept at the unit level because that is where it best serves the boys.

        • Pack18Alex
          Pack18Alex commented
          Editing a comment
          The Council budget supports the camps, staff in the store/office, and the DEs/SEs. You can pull up the 990 for your Council and see how they spend money.

          Niche product, a neighbor's sister wrote a Passover Cookbook that we wanted to sell as a fundraiser. They said no non-BSA product sales were being approved. OTOH, we hadn't done a Council Fundraiser in a few years. And we had stiffed them on a recharter fee a few years earlier that was still on the books. I'm pretty sure after doing good Popcorn/Camp Card sales, we'll get whatever we needed pushed through.

          Other things for us... we're a Jewish Unit, which means no travel on Saturday. Well, as we've restored our Council relationships, they added an option to Camp Over for Cub Fun Day (a Saturday only event). We were the only group that Camped as a Unit, a few were individual families that thought it would be fun. They are working on ways to accommodate us in other ways, and a good relationship is important.

          But my Emails/TXT messages are corresponded with with our DE on a regular basis. We chat as needed. Council helped us straighten out a bunch of messes.

          We have a good relationship in that everyone knows me, helps me when needed, coordinated things for our boys that were necessary.

          Council needs to function so we can put on the program. It's a professionally guided, volunteer run organization. Doing the Council Fundraiser helps your Unit make money AND Council pay it's bills.

      • #5
        We are starting to de-empasize popcorn in lieu of other Troop fund raising activities--annual Spagetti dinner, food and parking at parades, and selling a few lower priced items.


        • #6
          I call BS on the economy......It is an excuse for people not to spend money if they don't want to. Looking at the boys in my troop and the gifts they received this year......the economy is just fine.

          I you want any other fundraising approved you had better sell popcorn first, at least round here, otherwise you other fundraising opportunity will be denied, well that is if you actually apply for it thru council.

          Far as fundraisers go......Last day camp, they charged$85 per, with a budget of $15 per including Tshirt, Then the Tshirts had sponsorship logos all over the back, so they are making $70 per scout, or how about the $15 BS camporee with a $3 patch, donated site and porta johns....

          They can cry me a river about money and fundraising.


          • Basementdweller
            Basementdweller commented
            Editing a comment
            Or how about our last district awards dinner.

            Meat was donated by a local butcher, Venue was at a CO so donated, It was pot luck so you needed to bring a side dish or desert, and your own mess kit. Then they had the audacity to charge $10 a person to attend.


            Sure $10 isn't much. But I take issue with them charging me for no service.

            I currently have the worst DE in scouting history. Doesn't return phone calls, emails or txt. Provides horrible service and he said at the last Round table he was doing away with Pack School assignments so that will be a free for all.

            Again why should I donate to Council because my council and district provide NOTHING of value to my unit or my scouts.
            Last edited by Basementdweller; 01-17-2014, 08:26 AM.

          • Pack18Alex
            Pack18Alex commented
            Editing a comment
            There are a LOT of costs that go into these things. I know we get per-person costs for using BSA facilities or parks. We also have costs for security, etc.

            If you are curious where the money goes, join the committee that plans the events, you'll see where it goes.

            I know that our Council and Districts makes money on the Camporees/Cuborees, but they tend to lose money through the year. We did a bowling night for Cubs. It was a good price (10/participant), and the money was split with the bowling ally.

            But Council takes money to run. They pay our DE who works his tail off. They have people in Council office that process forms, run the scout store, handle insurance, etc. We can all pay dues, or we can over pay for profitable events.

            I know that for my Unit, we subsidize the camp-outs and activities, which gets us more participation than if we over charged. So we lose $100-$250 on each campout, vs. make $50-$100. Those losses are covered via dues and fundraising.

            We think that this is a good way to build unit retention, but it's neither right or wrong, it works for us.

            At the district level, either we fundraise at the district level and subsidize events, or we don't fundraise and we overcharge events to pay into District that way. If the goal is retention, you fundraise. If the goal is fairness, you overcharge.

            With fundraising, you ask those that are gung-ho to work hard to reward those that don't work hard, but you retain better. Without fundraise, you ask those that benefit to pay to cover the costs.

            There are about 20 line items on a BSA Event Budget form. Money gets spent.

          • Basementdweller
            Basementdweller commented
            Editing a comment
            A shame you cannot get your head around this.

            So exactly where does your unit get the money from to subsidize your campouts????

            Is it dues???? or out of a leaders pocket.

            your just playing a shell game with who is paying for what.

            While a $30 camping weekend is not much for some of you, it is nearly a deal breaker for my unit.

            So you charge me $15 for a camporee, I then need to buy food and fuel which is about $15 a head.
            Then I buy the supplies for my station at the camporee.

            All this so the SE can have a house on the golf course or the new corvette. No thanks.

        • #7
          Do a lot of units do Camp Cards? I keep hearing about them but have yet to see one in person myself. Is it a popular fundraiser?


          • Pack18Alex
            Pack18Alex commented
            Editing a comment
            In our Council, they get companies to offer a discount to put on the card. We sell them for $5, we remit $2.50 to council. Well established groups put up to $2 in each Scout's Scout Account to pay for camp. Less established groups like ours keep more of it for the Pack budget.

            One of the items on our camp card is $5 off at a supermarket, so the easiest sale is to stand in front of the supermarket and sell them. It's a good fundraiser, and since the cost is pennies (to produce the card), it's a good one.

            50% payout to unit, 50% to council, it's a good way to fund council. Since the goal of them is the boys to earn their way to camp, it's doubly good for council, because the boys raise money to spend on council.

        • #8
          Camp cards are great !!! I've bought several myself. They make sense financially and I'm always glad to support scouts.

          We don't sell popcorn. It's a horrible value. Walmart and Target sell comparative products for 15% to 25% of the price. It's really a cash donation with a thank you gift. I remember one year buying the microwave popcorn for $15 for the box. The outer card board could be peeled off to reveal other packaging and that exact product package could be bought at Walmart for $2.50. Ever since then, I do not buy the popcorn.

          Camp card on the other hand are absolutely great !!!


          • #9
            Popcorn is always an option. It is tailored for , as has been said, a"donation" with a "thank you" gift. Sort of like GSCookies, (better value? better handled? another topic). I know lots of BSunits that let the Cubpacks do the Popcorn (no competition there...) and the BSTroops do other things... sell Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, candy, campcards, flag display putup/takedowns, parkcars/do ice delivery/pickup trash at the county fair, spaghetti dinners, car washes, parade marshalling, mulch sale/delivery/installation, yard work, pet care/walking, ....
            Then we get into the definition of what is "service" or "good turns" versus "getting paid for it".


            • #10
              Doing Popcorn, the fundraiser is taken care of, and it's easy to plan for. For cubs, where I need family buy in, it's easy to give them an order form, some Show-and-Sell Popcorn, and send them off to sell. For the Troop, where the boys are more autonomous, you can do more advanced fundraisers.

              That said, if I want to run a business, I'd rather put the time into my business than a low margin "Scout Business" to fund the troop. Popcorn was easy, a volunteer managed spreadsheets to track, the Scouts sold the items, and the money just flowed in. That required less business development time, and each boy put the time he was willing to to get the prize he wanted.


              • #11

                We sell US Flag Subscriptions, 6x a year, we put em out at sunup and take them down at sundown. $30/year per subscription. We raise almost $3k/year for our 20 scouts with only six service dates (1 hr in the morning and one in the evening) plus one construction/maintenance day.

                There are additional details with "inviting" customers, billing, renewals, routes, scout level credit, parent credit, and flag production (some assembly required).

                So after you work out the processes it's pretty smooth. We developed some automation to help with the money/routes/credit issues. The flag person spends more time than everyone else - so he (me) doesn't do the actual runs anymore.
                Boy Scout Troop 1300 of Arrowmoon District, Sam Houston Council, is proud to be a hiking troop located in College Station Texas, home of Texas A&M University. The Troop is sponsored by St Thomas Episcopal Church located on George Bush Avenue.


                • #12
                  Yes, the council is bloated and some of them way overpaid.
                  As for popcorn, we don't. I hate popcorn. It takes time away from the program, costs too much, and causes too much interaction with the DE. It smells like urine and doesn't even make good cat litter.

                  We do alternative fund-raising.
                  Other units still sell the stuff and when they arrive at my door I will buy some from them...but we all know that what they're doing is parasitizing my good will toward a neighbor so they can take my money and give it to worthless executives.
                  Have a nice day!


                  • #13
                    We don't sell BSA popcorn because it is contra to #5: "All commercial products must sell on their own merits, not the benefit received by the Boy Scouts. The principle of value received is critical in choosing what to sell".


                    • #14
                      Somewhere you have to give back to your council and popcorn is really the easiest way to do it. if you do "other" fundraising, yes you seem to make more or as much money as you would with popcorn, but that is usually because you are keeping 100% of the profit, rather than splitting it with council. If you don't do any of the council fundraisers your unit is basically freeloading off council at that point since the registration money you pay a year goes primarily to national for registration.

                      I would prefer to do camp cards over popcorn, and indeed our group does both. The way we motivate our boys is that they get allocated the majority of their profits for fees/things they need for scouting like uniforms, camp fees etc. This makes them actually sell more than if the pack just kept it all and the small percentage the pack does keep for operating expenses turns out to be quite a good chunk of money.

                      It helps our boys, helps our pack and helps our council all at the same time.


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by jc2008 View Post
                        Somewhere you have to give back to your council and popcorn is really the easiest way to do it. if you do "other" fundraising, yes you seem to make more or as much money as you would with popcorn, but that is usually because you are keeping 100% of the profit, rather than splitting it with council. If you don't do any of the council fundraisers your unit is basically freeloading off council at that point since the registration money you pay a year goes primarily to national for registration.
                        Bingo. Council may be bloated and inefficient, but if you don't want to be a part of a BSA council, go form an independent outdoor club. BSA units are part of their council, and need to kick something up.

                        Now, if you do your own fundraisers and kick 50% to council for Friends of Scouting, well good for you, but you're a liar.