Troop Fundraising




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By Cliff Golden

I would like to know how the cost of Scouting is addressed by units that provides a level playing field for all the Scouts in the unit. It is reasonable to expect that a unit would not incorporate a program that would exclude Scouts from participating because of financial need?

We take a three prong approach to this problem.

  1. Offer as many free activities as possible.
  2. Keep programs as economical as possible, good value.
  3. Operate a strong fundraising program, providing earning potential for Scouts.

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.

bulletAviation Centennial Mini Tour $120
bulletDriving tour,
bulletUSAF Museum, Dayton OH
bulletWright Brothers sites, Dayton, OH
bulletDay at Kings Island Amusement Park
bulletOvernight at hotel with pool & spa
bulletCamping at Wright-Patterson AFB
bulletNeil Armstrong Air & Space Museum
bullet1,100 miles driving
bulletSummer Camp $165
bulletExcellent traditional summer camp program
bulletCamp Lowden; Oregon, Illinois
bulletSuper staff!
bullet90 miles RT driving
bulletNortheast USA-Canada $250
bulletWaterfall tour, 4 state Parks in New York
bulletTour of Fort Drum
bulletBackpacking in the Adirondacks
bulletFerry across Lake Champlain
bulletBen & Jerry's Ice Cream factory tour
bulletMountain biking @ Killington Peak; Vermont
bulletBackpack Appalachian/Long Trail in Vermont
bulletCanada tour:
bulletsightseeing in Montreal
bulletsightseeing in Ottawa
bulletcamping at Rondeau Prov Park.
bulletTwo nights in hotels, the rest camping.
bullet2,600 miles driving
bulletSouthwest USA-Mexico $575
bulletOvernight at Nellis AFB, NV
bulletHike narrows at Zion Nat Park, UT
bulletCamping at Kodachrome State Park, UT
bulletHorseback trip at Bryce Canyon NP, UT
bulletPontoon Boating at Lake Powell, UT
bulletCamping/hiking Grand Canyon Nat Park, AZ
bulletCamping Coconino Nat Forst, AZ
bulletTour Sunset Crater Nat Mon, AZ
bulletTour Wupatki Nat Mon, AZ
bulletSwimming at Slide Rock State Park, AZ
bulletDesert camping outside Phoenix, AZ
bulletPima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
bulletHotel in Nogales, AZ.
bulletMEXICO tour by bus
bulletHotel in Guaymas
bulletBeach and sea kayaking in San Carlos
bulletHotel in Mesa, AZ
bulletHoover Dam tour
bulletLas Vegas hotel and tour the strip
bullet5 nights hotels the rest camping.
bullet2,000 miles driving, 500 miles bus
bulletround trip air Chicago-Las Vegas

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.