By Cliff Golden
We take a three prong approach to this problem.
We do about 6 fundraisers each year raising between $8,000 and $9,000, the vast majority of funds for Scout use.
You can only knock on doors so many times each year, so only a few of our fundraisers are sales campaigns. Let me explain our fundraising program in greater detail, and how it relates to our overall program.
#1 September: Council Popcorn Sale
This goes on for about 4 weeks. This is your basic door-to-door, friends, family, relatives, sales campaign. We support our council while providing unlimited earnings potential to our boys. ALL profits go to boys' Scout Accounts.
#2 December: Spaghetti Dinner
This involves a short two weeks sales campaign, followed by a half day event, the actual dinner. It's good for involving our church and local community. Scouts earn a 50% commission from each ticket they sell.
#3 May: Pancake Breakfast
This involves a short two weeks sales campaign, followed by a half day event, the actual breakfast. It's good for involving our church and local community. Scouts earn a 50% commission from each ticket they sell.
#4 July: Concession Stand
We have a concession at our community 4th of July event. Polish sausage, hot dogs, lemon shake ups, sweet corn, etc. No sales campaign, just a half day event cooking with counter sales, plus we enjoy a fantastic fireworks display at the end. The boys really enjoy doing this. It's also good community exposure.
#5 July: Concession Stand
We have another concession in July at the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival. This is a combination fundraiser and a free campout. We do funnel cakes, chicken & veggie wrap sandwiches, sweet corn, etc. The boys enjoy working at the booth, plus it's a fun festival to attend with a really great crowd. On Saturday night they have "Cruise Night" in downtown Morris, Illinois with classic & muscle cars, which the boys really enjoy attending. This is a working campout which provides a fun/fund event. The boys run the booth.
#6 August: Concession Stand
Late August at the end of the summer we have another concession with funnel cakes, lemon shake ups, sweet corn, etc. at our local community event, "DeKalb Corn Fest". Everyone in town shows up plus many from the Chicago suburbs, about 100,000 people or so. This is our largest single fundraiser and a great opportunity for community exposure. That was about two weeks ago and we earned around $3300 with over 40 workers spread out over the weekend.
We have a very active program with day trips, weekend adventures, mini tours, summer camp, and high adventure tours. Usually 70-85 activities per year.
About 60% of all activities are free of charge.
At least one free activity is offered each month.
Most other activities are $5-$20.
In 2003 we had 4 troop sponsored events over $100.
The price was all-inclusive of all expenses except souvenirs.
We also had a boy attend Philmont with another troop for a Cavalcade at $825. He could have done both the Northeast and Southwest tours with us for the exact same price.
We try to keep prices low, values high, and give each boy a chance to earn his own way. Boys of all economic levels are active in our program. Any boy willing to work at our fundraisers can pay his way on any trip.
We feel this fundraising program gives us balance. Half our fundraisers depend on boys going out and selling tickets or popcorn to the community. The other half does not require any advance sales, the customers come to us. We just work and serve food.
Not all boys like selling things, they just want to work. We split our concession booth profits among those boys working based on the number of hours worked.
The sales campaigns rely on a commission earned based on total sales. Boys can make an unlimited amount of money depending on how much they sell.
We are considering trying to add one more concession event, early in the summer before the big trips. Since these are short-term commitments of time and do not require advance sales, they work out very well for older boys. It's they who have asked for another concession event.
We do have to invest substantial funds in food service equipment, and have significant start up costs for each concession we do. Basically we equip and mobilize a small restaurant.
It's a lot of work, but for the boys it also provides challenge, builds teamwork, develops leadership, etc., you know the drill. We try to use our fundraisers as we do any Scouting event, to further achieve the aims of Scouting.
Any boy willing to work can achieve his goals of going on any trip we offer. Setting goals and achieving them. Our events provide incentive, our fundraising program provides means. It all works together to achieve the aims. At least it all seems to work out fairly well for us.
Cliff Golden is Scoutmaster of Troop 33, DeKalb, Illinois
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.