Upon further review, troop’s grocery-bagging fundraiser isn’t permitted

fundraisingUpdate, Feb. 7: See more explanation and answers to questions left in the comments below at this post.

I stand corrected.

Yesterday I blogged about a troop that raised money by bagging groceries for tips at a local supermarket.

Today I learned that such fundraisers aren’t permitted by the Boy Scouts of America. Mark Moshier, team leader for the BSA’s Development and Corporate Alliances and Council Fund Development teams, was friendly and helpful in providing me with an explanation as to why this type of project isn’t allowed.

Be sure to read Mark’s full explanation below, but the essence is that the project involves “solicitation of funds,” he writes. “Only the BSA national organization and local councils are authorized to solicit funds in the name of Scouting.”

I should say that several wise volunteers who commented on yesterday’s post knew something was fishy with the project idea and should be commended for staying aware of these important rules.

Today Mark gave me a copy of “Funding Your Scouting Program,” an official BSA training video I posted to YouTube. Watch it below. It’s 13 minutes and worth your time if you’re at all involved with fundraising in your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew.

Thanks to Mark for this clarification. Please read his official response to yesterday’s post:

Mark Moshier’s response

The Boy Scouts of America has provided long-standing guidelines on permissible fundraising activities for its units. These guidelines are intended to clearly define to the Scouting community and the community at large the role in fundraising of the National Organization, Local Councils and Units. These guidelines are based on the Charter and Bylaws and Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America and in compliance with IRS regulations related to nonprofit organizations. They are reviewed on a regular basis by committees of the National Executive Board as the fundraising environment is constantly changing.

The Unit Money Earning Application provides a great source for guidance on permissible fundraising activities and is available from your local council or online at this link (PDF).

Additional guidance can be found in a Frequently Asked Questions document available at this link (PDF).

The key issue with the fundraising activity described in the Bryan on Scouting blog post is the issue of solicitation of funds. Only the BSA national organization and local councils are authorized to solicit funds in the name of Scouting. Units are permitted to earn money by participating in council-sponsored fundraising activities such as Popcorn sales and Camp Card sales and through the sale of products on their own such as candy bars, Christmas wreaths and trees and other direct sales.

Units can also deliver a service and charge a fee. Examples include a car wash, or a unit that cleaned up after a community festival, conducted by their charter organization, and collected all of the beverage cans and then turned them in for the deposit amount.

In the activity featured on the blog, the unit is providing a service, but as identified by several commenters, by seeking tips are really soliciting a donation, which is not permissible.

Funding Your Scouting Program: A Training Video


  1. If they had provided a “product” (such as a small candy bar) in exchange for the money donation while still providing the bagging service, would that have met the BSA guidelines?

      • No. The scouts were providing a service and being paid for the service. If they did not carry bags they were not paid.

        Furthermore, the IRS defines tips as income paid to service providers.Tips ARE NOT donations.

        The BSA does not get to make up its own definitions on what is a donation and what is payment for a service.

    • My cub pack would regularly receive about 15% of our popcorn sales related revenue from direct donations. Bag of $15.00 (!!) popcorn and they tell us to keep the change. Do we go to BSA jail for accepting, or do we chase the person down and stuff the money into his coat pocket?

  2. Not that I want to make things more difficult but I am curious. If this fundraiser is not permitted, how is this any different than recycling Christmas Tree that many Troops do?

    I know my son’s Troop does Christmas Tree recycling but the flyer stares it is a $10 fee for the service. Many Troops ask for a donation for the service but my understanding is that was not allowed. Can you clarify this?

    • If we get clarity, I think it will prove your perspective correct. You provide a service. You change a fee. I don’t see the problem. If you provide the service but ask for a donation, that may not be allowed. Many events, whether it is stated or not even use a $10 tree recycling donation suggested. So that people who cant afford can give less and people also can give more. Not sure on Corporate BSAs stance on that.

  3. How is this different that car washes with “free will offering” ? They are providing a service and asking for a tip in return….

  4. The same thought came to me, but I decided it would be ok, based on the fact that they *are* providing a service (bagging groceries) in return for the money. How is that not providing a service? What did I miss?

    • Nothing – National is confused again. This is fine. Provide a service and collect money. Maybe it needs to be a charge and not a tip. Semantics.

      • National is not confused. Yes a service was provided (allowed) but allowing the customer to choose how much to tip (not allowed). Not sure how to make this particular fundraiser feasible, but in order for it to be legal, they need to charge a flat fee.

        • Then that is simply all they did wrong – nothing was wrong with the fundraiser – no retraction is needed. All National had to do is clarify that they have to charge a fee next time. Issue solved in a clear way without shaming the troop and confusing many.

      • Semantics would fix this, if they stood there with a sign saying $5 for a scout to bag your food then it would be a charged service. But donations only being the issue, well…….

        • that being said to follow this rule to the letter of the law most Eagle fundraisers (read car-washes for donations) are illegal too. I’m glad local heads still have common sense.

  5. Most baggers are employees of the grocery store and are paid a salary from that store. I didn’t understand how Boy Scouts could take their job/pay away by bagging?
    Wouldn’t those baggers be upset by the Scouts taking their job? Thanks for further explaining and keeping us legal.

      • We still have several stores that have baggers and I agree that it wouldn’t be right or likely allowed to do this there. But we also have lots of self-checkouts and stores that don’t bag/carry for you, where this certainly would be appreciated and a great idea.

      • Agree. They still are kicking kids out when they are 18 just because they might be gay when they could be great leaders. This tarnished the brand for many years and will continue to even with the small change they made at the beginning of the month… Progress not perfection.

      • Scouting’s duty is NOT to protect the brand it is to develop young men and women into exceptional leaders. How is having uniformed scouts providing a service bad for the brand? Rules like this make scouting not fun for leaders and scouts alike.

  6. Some grocery stores have paid baggers, others do not. One of my local stores does not have paid baggers, but almost every weekend a different group is “bagging for tips”.

    It sounds to me like it has to be a fixed fee for service “$10 to wash your car” is fine, “donate whatever you want” is not.

    • If that is the distinction, while I personally don’t agree, at least it is clear and solid counsel from corporate BSA. Instead, we have an amended article that confuses us more than it answers any questions…

    • OK,…You run a car wash and charge a (let’s say $7) fee. But someone comes thru and only has $5. Do you say soory we can’t wash your car. And if someone comes thru and only has a $10 bill and decides to donate the balance, is this ‘cool’?

      • Who knows what Corporate would say, but I’d say “of course,” you accept the 5 and wash and accept the 10 and wash also.

      • You can accept donations, but you cannot do a service and ASK for donations. So if you set your price at $7 and you get someone with only $5, tell them every so many cars gets a discouted price and then Thank them. Scouts can do a service for a fee or for free, but they cannot ask for donations.

  7. Sorry but I believe that any boy can ask for donations for his scout account if he so chooses. He is asking for his own personal trip not for “boy scouts” per se and it should be allowed. many of our scouts accept money from friends and family for their account as they would rather do that than buy more popcorn or candy bars or whatever.

      • The IRS doesn’t care about gifts under $13k in value. Seriously, what Boy Scout is getting more than $13k in tips? Because if someone is, then I’ve been obviously been doing it all wrong all these years. 😉

      • I give those kinds of “gifts” to the homeless all the time. I doubt they are filing it on their taxes and my kids wouldn’t be required to either…

        • There are no tax consequences for the recipient of a gift, just for the giver, and only if they’re giving way, way, way more than anyone ever gives to one homeless person, or to a single Boy Scout. You have to give more than $13k to a single individual before you have to start worrying about taxes.

      • Funny that I’ve never heard of this from any Scouting resource and nearly every troop and some packs do this. What are we paying fees to National for if it is not for guidance on the policies and rules of scouting in the BSA?

    • Wow,
      Not only can’t a scout ask for money for his own personal account per the IRS, scout accounts are illegal and it seems that this has been the case for a long time now but is just becoming a bigger deal.

      I believe that asking for donations may not be allowed since whatever service or product is being offered needs to be worth the money.

      I don’t know if that makes sense because if a person decides what the service is worth and pays it I guess it can’t be overcharging……….sigh…..

    • If little Tommy Tenderfoot wants to stand on a street corner and ask people for donations (or tips) to help him pay his way to summer camp (or Disney World or wherever) great! He can do that. However Tommy has to do it as Tommy the kid, not Tommy the Boy Scout (he shouldn’t be doing it in his BSA uniform and he shouldn’t using the BSA name or brand to help him in his panhandling).

  8. So the scouts can charge a fee but not as for a donation. So I take the car wash must have a fee attached and can’t be free with donations welcome. Seems backwards since a fee is mandatory and a donation is optional. We are a none profit and the BSA take donations. Why can’t the Scouts or is national afraid they will miss their cut. Something is wrong with this situation.

  9. Raising money via popcorn sales is all well and good, but how do you raise the initial capital to START a new Troop. I have several Webelos dens interested in starting one, but any popcorn monies they collect would rightfully go to the Cub Scout Pack they’re currently in.

    • The Charter Org can collect and earmark all the funds they want. Donations can be made to the Charter Organization and they can distribute to their hearts content. The unit actually belongs to the charter organization.

    • Having recently started a troop (last August):

      We cleaned up after Garage Sales all over town (providing a service for free), collected the items in a garage, and had a massive Rummage Sale. We raised about $2000 at our first sale!

      • Question for Doug – were all the items you used for the garage sale ‘donated’. Don’t these items have a monetary value and at a garage sale there are usually no ‘fixed’ prices. There is usually ‘bartaring’ going on. Oh think I see, you arrive on a price agreeable by both parties and that is considered the set price…lol EGAD! the mind games that national can put on things. It all comes down to this. If national/council can’t get part of it, then it must be against the rules.

    • In my son’s Cub Scout Pack, the money earned by Webelos 2 went with them to the Troop in which the transferred. We do this so they get a jump start for Boy Scout Summer Camp. We arrange this in advance with the Troop. That gets into the subject Scout Accounts but that is another subject.

    • Starting a new unit usually means charging dues. The start up costs are these dues. If equipment is needed maybe borrowing from other troops until money comes in from popcorn.

      Or maybe a quick can and bottle drive after the new unit is chartered.

    • In addition to the ideas others have added. Maybe the chartering org will give a loan or a start up cost. Maybe smaller goals (a local camp or troop trip of low cost) could be achievable for the first year and then working towards a bigger goal next year. Using some used/donated/borrowed/family gear for the first year while you acquire it… Good luck on starting a new troop!

  10. “this is the kind of legalism that makes fundraising in scouting such a nightmare.”

    and why many (most?) units do not follow the rules

  11. I think a bigger question here is, how do you police something like this? This can’t be the only unit that has done a fundraiser like this. I’m sure now the Scoutmaster regrets sharing this info now that it’s been banned.

    There are a lot of units that do fundraisers that wouldn’t pass muster with the BSA. Many simply skirt the rules by saying it’s being put on by “the parents of Troop XX”, and not the unit itself. There are Packs who do 50/50 raffles at the Pinewood or Blue-Gold to help pay for the expenses of the event. That’s a no-no. There are units that put on dances, ox roasts, and similar parties as fundraisers with alcohol present–no Scouts present, no one in uniform, and it’s “officially” put on by “the parents of…”, but they still go on. The registrar of our council says she can’t remember the last time a unit filled out a fundraising form to council.

    So again, how do you police things like this?

    • I agree with some of the previous comments, this seems like a ridiculous and arbitrary distinction. It does seem the same as a carwash for tips. National ftl.

    • If the guidance was clear, helpful, and allowed units to fund-raise not just to support National, I don’t think much policing would need to happen. Frankly, if a group of parents get together, outside of scouts, and raise money not wearing uniforms and not under the auspices of the BSA, I could care less. I think the tax rules and such would be questionable as to how to do it properly – I’m no expert there…

    • And most organizations hold 50/50 raffles. Consider schools do it, Lions Clubs and other charitable organizations. It is time for the National to get with the times considering they keep raising the money they collect from the chartered organization.

  12. Several stores around here allow groups to wrap presents for Christmas for tips. I know some groups who sign up for a couple nights every year. What, Scouts are supposed to stop doing that as well? My church just started it’s Friends of Scouting drive and I was about to donate this coming Sunday, but I’m not contributing now. You take away our funding opportunities, National, I return the favor.

    • Bart, FOS funds YOUR Council. It has nothing to do with the national office and you are only hurting YOUR Council and every unit in it by not donating. National won’t notice, but your unit, District and Council will.

      • I will donate to my district, council, and National when they support all scouts and scouters and stop the discrimination of gay leaders. Until then I support our local units only. I’m not going to financially support bigotry.

    • Bart, while I share your feelings about the matter, not contributing to a Friends of Scouting Campaign only hurts the boys within your specific council. Your council relies on the FOS campaign to put towards program and camp improvements as well as paying the council professional’s fees. I don’t believe National takes a cut.

      • That’s okay with me, as we pay for all the BSA paraphernalia and they get their cut, we pay our unit/council/national chartering fees and they get their cut, we pay for our use of scout camps, programs, etc. They can get supplemental donations from me when they start improving their relationships, support, technology, and moral standards of membership. Otherwise, we pay for our use and very generously for our units.

    • I already pay for scouting as a Scouter in fees, uniforms, program fees, and registrations for myself and my boys. National should cover their own costs from their registration fees and any fundraising they want to do. In just the last 2 years, they have lost millions in donations from major corporations because they wanted to continue to discriminate against gay scouts and leaders. Councils, too have lost donations for this same reason from many companies and other charities like the United Way. Councils need to fund-raise on their own and not from Scout families, scouts, and parents. If they want additional money for staff, etc, they will need to find it. Our council and local units are soon to lose a huge sponsor amounting to tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of dollars to local scouting specifically because of the continued discrimination. Companies are more and more aligning their corporate giving strategies to their internal employment policies and do not want to be associated with or support groups who discriminate. National and Councils are going to need to continue to cut their expenses and to raise their revenues on their own. Raising fees and tapping scouts for more and more money is only going to “shoot them in the foot.” If National and Councils wants to continue to insist on being bigoted and excluding people, they need to get ready for some pretty heavy layoffs, camps sales, and program reductions. Units are going to continue to fund-raise for themselves and their boys, not for councils and national. I hope that they will make the right decisions, but if they don’t they done. My kids will have their great experiences, go to whatever great camps remain in the coming years, and then will age out.

    • Exactly my point. I could see if they were simply standing there with hat in hand. But they are working. Like someone said above, It’s no different than if you have a car wash for donations.

      • Suggesting or asking for a tip/donation is very different than accepting one. Frankly, most people who work and should be getting tipped are shortchanged these days…

      • But you can’t do car washes for donations either. If a service is performed but there is no fee charged it is understood that the Scouts are working for tips………. The difference is that a fee is charged BEFORE the service is performed.

        Even at popcorn sales tip jars are not allowed.

        While this is not well liked by leaders and families I don’t understand the confusion about the difference between donations and charging a fee.

        • re-read what was written in the article and I think you will understand the confusion. You understand, plainly and clearly, what I believe is probably Corporate’s guidance: Provide a product or service in exchange for a fee = okay. Provide it at the discretion of a tip/donation = not okay. That’s not what was clearly said in the article. I’d hire you to help get Corporate on track with clear communication volunteers can understand and follow.

    • sounds like if they had a sign saying, ‘groceries bagged for $1. Additional tips gladly accepted’ then they’d be ok, or at least closer to ok (if the 2nd sentence doesn’t cross the line).

      I guess it’s something along the lines of: A thrifty Scouts is supposed to earn his own way. Not beg for it. (don’t just ask for money, provide a service.)

    • Because Council/National are not getting their cut? Sadly, that’s my fear. We have a council not far from my own that refuses to promote/publish a merit badge college held in their council unless they get a cut of the “profit” (if any) from the event. That’s scout spirit right there – can’t be discussed at roundtable or posted on the website unless they make money!

  13. This is hogwash! The answer that seems obvious to me is this. If they are allowed to perform a service and charge for it like a car wash, then they can also perform a service and charge for it (bagging groceries). Find a store that does not bag/carry for customers. “Hello, I’m a scout with Troop 000, we are raising money to go to Philmont. Could I bag your groceries and carry them to the car for you for 50 cents per bag?” The fact that this was not suggested or mentioned is the problem, in my opinion with much of corporate and even local scouting. THIS IS FOR THE BOYS! Our job as parents and leaders is to enable them and to help them do and achieve what they want. Saying “No” simply never should be an option – give them an alternate that is allowed and help massage their plan into one that is workable. I’d like to hear Mark explain why my idea wouldn’t be approved and what suggestions he has to make this idea workable. Sorry to sound so harsh, but I see this all the time with Scoutmasters finding reasons why someone can’t get this badge or shouldn’t be an Eagle, or they can’t do this event, activity or campout… We are only there to support the boy-led ideas and ambitions, not to set our own or squash theirs…

    • Because whoever is bagging groceries usually does so for free, and the stores usually don’t want some group to set some arbitrary bagging fee.

      • Right, but in stores where there are no baggers, that doesn’t matter. Like any product or service, people ask to buy and can answer yes or no. It’s no different than pestering them to buy overpriced flavorless popcorn that they can get inside the store with more flavor and at 1/4 of the cost.

  14. Does anyone have current valid resources/documentation about the following topic: BSA units are no longer to credit amounts from fundraising to an individual towards their Scout expenses. The IRS has stated that crediting fundraising amounts constitutes private benefit. However, the unit could use the funds (all or a percentage) raised to reduce or eliminate dues and various registration fees, purchase uniforms and Scouting books, and purchase camping equipment. The unit could also use its funds to provide assistance to individual Scouts in cases of financial hardship.

    I found the August 2013 Fiscal Policies and Procedures for BSA Units Frequently Asked Questions, but have not been able to find any recent documentation that supports the above statement. I have not heard my district nor council discussing the topic so was not sure of the current validity of it.

      • Thanks to a fellow Scouter, the following was shared: page 9 of the Fall 2013 BSA Product Sales Guide states:

        “Individual Youth Accounts: The use of individual youth accounts to credit amounts from fundraising to an individual toward their expenses is not permitted. The IRS has stated that crediting fundraising
        amounts constitutes private benefit. However, the unit could use the funds (all or a percentage) raised to reduce or eliminate dues and various registration fees, purchase uniforms and Scouting books, and purchase camping equipment. The unit could also use its funds to provide assistance to individual Scouts in cases of financial hardship. “

  15. I beleive the popcorn sales is a stale choice for fundraising, very expensive and little product, what happens if i just give the unit selling the popcorn a 20 and don’t accept the product?

    • This happens all the time. Popcorn is just not unique, it’s generally not a product or service that is needed or wanted. It’s much cheaper in the store and is better quality in the store, too. We find that the best fundraisers are one where you provide a desired product/service where people ask you for it and that is not popcorn. We have a couple of fundraisers that “sell themselves” because of this concept. Marketing 101: Product, price, place, promotion. If you have what people want when they need it at a good price, you don’t even have to sell it. In my opinion, we sell popcorn because we get yelled at by council if we don’t. Check it off the list and then to better fundraisers and not worry about popcorn. And don’t get me started about having to pr-order and commit to the popcorn and then getting stuck with it because it can’t be returned. One year we took a loss.

      • yes I agree….We had a friend who’s son was in a local troop. He perfectly sold us a tin of Popcorn (pre-ordered). The size of the tin was the size of a can of coffee. I am all for supporting local charities, and scouts. My work United Way goes to my local council. but the popcorn is hard sale for me to purchase again. I wish the BSA would get a product that people would want….. maybe an online survey for the troops to complete. My last note…. The tin did not even have any BSA emblems/markings on it to represent the BSA. It has been a while since i have bought any Popcorn so this may have changed… very generic

        • Thank you for supporting your friend’s son and scouting. You are correct about the product. While he can’t really ask you for a donation to help him, that would probably be more helpful to him in the future. If a friend of mine offered my son some cash to put towards his camping, high-adventure, or uniforming/equipment goals, it would be appreciated! We had a guy once just give us $1,000 in honor of his brother who had passed away. the only stipulation was to take the unit fishing with it. We had a wonderful deep-sea trip with lots of memories, fish, and merit badges and sent him a nice thank-you letter and photos from the event. We would ahve had to sell $3,000 – $4,000 of popcorn to take that same trip.

    • I did find out that if your unit is given permission by the council the Scouts can wear their uniforms. But you have to ask.

      • That is my understanding, as well. However, many units do not do this because they are worried their fundraising idea will not be permitted by their council (right or wrong), it’s a barrier and why i doubt councils see many requests for fundraising…

    • And open any Boys Life or Scouting magazine and you’ll see ads for wreaths, nuts, batteries, first aid kits and more “scout fundraisers” that apparently aren’t BSA endorsed. Our troop says we can’t wear our uniforms when conducting those sales either… although they’re in the BSA magazines!

  16. I think it should be pointed out that an Eagle Scout candidate may solicit funds for project materials in accordance with the Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application (which must be approved by the local Council).

    • I am not sure if this has any bearing on the validity of the solicitation of funds but the Eagle fund raising process is limited to family, Unit, Charter Organization, and beneficiary unless it is approved by the District. So solicitation of funds is not from the general public.

      • Really? I’ve known lots of projects going outside of those listed for resources. Corporations, stores, public, etc. where is that stated?

        • Take a look at page 3-8 of the 2013 Eagle Workbook -Procedures and Limitations on Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising. It basically states that the Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application must be completed for any contributions outside of the candidate, his parents or relatives, his unit or it’s chartered organization, parents or members of his unit, or the beneficiary. Also, point 8 of this page indicates that while youth are not normally permitted to solicit funds on behalf of other organizations, it is up to local councils can make exceptions for Eagle Scout service projects.

  17. Reblogged this on BSA Troop 45 and commented:
    “In the activity featured on the blog, the unit is providing a service, but as identified by several commenters, by seeking tips are really soliciting a donation, which is not permissible.”

    Apparently it’s fine to set a fee for services. Just don’t ask for donations in return. Read the full article for more info.

    • that’s my assumption, too. But poor writing and direction from Corporate to not have them provide what is acceptable (just bad the groceries for a fee instead of tips)…

  18. While this semantic difference between providing a service for a fee and asking for donations is a hassle it is what it is………… When my Crew does a car wash or spaghetti dinner we presell tickets. So whether folks come or not, we have made money and are not soliciting donations.

    Now the thought that this asking for donations is not allowed because councils don’t get their cut, is a bit cynical (and believe me I am not that naïve). What I mean is if that was the case then no other money earning applications would ever be approved. My unit went for years shunning popcorn in favor of wreaths. But what we didn’t raise for the council we traded in work and a huge FOS contribution. A few years ago we started up popcorn to give incoming Webelos a chance to keep a customer base if they had one.

    • While I agree, I’m still not clear if it is that simple. If it was, Mark and Bryan should have said great work to the troop – the only correction for the future is to bag groceries for a price, not as a service for tips. End of revision. instead, they retracted the article, said the fundraising was not approved by BSA, went into a lengthy explanation that didn’t even answer the fundamental question that nearly everyone is asking – is it okay if they just charge a price (for wreaths, tree recycling, bagging, etc). I’d be so embarrassed if I was the troop who mentioned their great idea – get get National scouting reprimands and to fee like their great moneymaker is not off the table with no real answer or suggestion. National owes more to those boys to give the solution and to be clear.

  19. So providing a service of bagging groceries and asking for an open-ended “tip” to support Scouting is not approved, but providing a service of bagging groceries and charging a flat-free to support Scouting is approved? So confused!

  20. You have to give National and your local council a cut. An d whatever you do don’t even thing of using their Tax ID number!

  21. National is sure going out of its way to irritate as many Scouting families as possible. I think “corporate” describes them perfectly – they are a business. BP would be rolling over in his grave.at what BSA has become.

    • Yes, alienate all the corporate donors so they wont give. Alienate many of the chartering orgs, so they want to walk away. Annoy volunteers by not providing easy to understand direction and profitable and easy fundraisers or instructions… and then possibly even disallow them unless you go through corporate or else they won’t permit the money to be used for the boys who work hard… What a brilliant solution from the professional scouting staff!

  22. After watching the video, it appears that the favorable fund raising projects are the ones where the council gets a cut. The “Unit Money Earning Application” ensures that the Council gets their cut. The Popcorn sales allows the Council to get paid up front. I feel that a pack/den/troop all together supports everyone. When I was in scouting, I cannot remember when a boy was left out because he could not afford to participate in scouting. I hope the BSA doesn’t become so hardcore for funds that they forget why they are here.

    • Unfortunately they are already there. With all the discrimination in the news, people are upset. Businesses have stopped donating huge sums to National and Councils. The uber-conservative were offended and left to start The Trail Life Christian only/non-gay group. Those for equality are still not satisfied because the policy makes no sense and still discriminates, so additional companies still won’t donate due to their own corporate giving policies. The moderates in the middle and just hanging on for dear life… Corporate BSA has made their bed and it’s getting pretty uncomfortable for them to lie in it… And after spending millions or billions or whatever it was on the Summit… They’ve just raised fees for National and some councils have levied huge fees to recharter, as well…

  23. Simple solution: Put up a sign that says Bag your groceries in a red bag: $10, in a blue bag: $5, in a white bag: $1, in a green bag: Free! Same type of thing would work for car washes (wash your car with water from the red bucket…)!

  24. Okay! Let me see if I can provide this in simple, everyday American English for all of you.

    The policy, which HAS NOT CHANGED, is really simple:

    – Only the Boy Scouts of America, represented by your local Council, can enter into any contract or solicit funds in the name of the Boy Scouts of America. Your unit is a part of your local Council, and they must ask the local Council to solicit monies for any sort of a fundraising project. There’s a form which needs to be filled out and submitted to the local Council to avoid cross-purposes in rasing that money.

    – Your unit can raise money to support/sustain their programs. However, unless it has been approved by the local Council, your Scouts and Scouters must be in clothing OTHER THAN the official Scout uniform. Why? Because wearing the uniform *implies* that you’re raising the money *for the BSA*. You’re NOT. You’re raising the money for *your unit*.

    – If you sell anything — candy bars, flashlights, calendars — or provide a service — tree removal, wreath sales, car washes, bake sales, pancake breakfasts, and in this example, grocery bagging — you have to charge for it and the price has to stand on it own merits and NOT the “BSA’s merits”. In other words, you cannot use the name of the BSA or your local Council to sell your candy bars, have people to allow you to wash their cars, or bag their groceries.

    – Putting out the “donation jar”, and even suggesting an amount, is not allowed. Everything we do in Scouting is based on what that item is worth. We don’t sell popcorn for a “donation”; we don’t provide pancake breakfasts for “a donation”.

    To those of you who constantly spew out the “they won’t approve anything unless National (or the Council) gets a cut”, think about this: why would the BSA want to “get a cut” from a car wash…and how much would that “cut” be? What — $40? A smart District Executive or Field Director can ask for $1000 from a member of a community!
    NO, the BSA isn’t interested in “getting a cut” from our unit sales — neither is your local Council. The ONLY thing they are interested in is in keeping you and your unit from crossing over and asking Big Box Inc. to give your Pack or Troop $200 when they are working the CEO of Big Box Inc. to give the BSA or your local Council $50,000!!

    Finally, come on…the policy has been around for a long time. We sell things on their own qualities. We sell things in street clothes unless it’s an official BSA/Council activity, like popcorn sales. We show pride in what we do, because we are either providing a service to which we expect to be paid or we are selling something to help our unit financially get where we need to go. And the BSA and our local Council is there to support and help us if we ask them.

    Hope this helps!

    • Yes, this was much more direct to the actual question and clear. I think you answered nearly everything in the comments in just this one post!

    • People are saying that National/Council won’t approve anything unless they get their cut are referring to the money that National/Council get from selling popcorn. No, they don’t want a cut of car wash money, that’s why they mandate that popcorn must be purchased by the unit before orders are placed and why they reserve a cut of the profits. If National didn’t want a cut off the money they’d just let the units earn money.

      Would I buy a wreath or card or tree or popcorn from some random kid? Of course not. I buy them from Scouts because I support Scouting. When National says that kids can’t try to make money as Scouts, that just seems greedy to me. I can’t support executives who make decisions like this and if Boy Scouts is going to go along the path that Girl Scouts has already trod, with such an emphasis on Council-sponsored fundraisers, they’re going to end up in the same position that Girl Scouts is in now. When I was a Scout, we raked yards and did a lot of fundraisers. We charged a fair price and we did great work but I believe we got our feet in the door because we were Scouts. Would you hire some random group of kids to take your yard? Probably not.

      Girl Scouts focuses on the fundraiser, they don’t emphasise the outdoor program, they’ve alienated most of the churches who currently sponsor 50% of all US Boy Scouts and look what a financial mess the Girl Scout Councils are in now. I’ve talked to plenty of Venture former Girl Scouts who say they just got burned out of that program with the constant emphasis on making money for the Council.

  25. I follow that scouts should earn the money, not ask for hand outs. While there is a bit of grey area that makes sense. We want to hold to the ideal of “A scout pays his own way.”

    I’m curious why the reaction is so focused on the donation nature of it compared to the use of uniforms. From what the Unit Money Earning Application says, it seems pretty obvious that for a unit fundraiser scouts should not wear their uniforms. (Why that is doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s not what I’m asking about.) Why was Mark Moshier’s response only to the handling of funds and no mention about the uniforms?

    • Excellent point. And why did it go over the top to say the type of fundraiser is not approved? Nothing is Wong with it. They just need to charge instead of saying it is for a donation. Why a retraction and lengthy article to just point out a small change?

  26. Bart wrote and commented “People are saying that National/Council won’t approve anything unless they get their cut are referring to the money that National/Council get from selling popcorn.”

    National doesn’t get a cut from popcorn sales. Period. This is a local Council promotion and not a “national promotion”. Only two-thirds of all of the local BSA Councils sell popcorn; and that money goes in a split to support and sustain the Council’s operations and programs as well as to individual units to support and sustain their program. Popcorn sales only accounts for a tenth to two-tenths of a Council’s annual budget, which is why only two-thirds of all of the BSA’s local Councils even bother with it.

    “No, they don’t want a cut of car wash money, that’s why they mandate that popcorn must be purchased by the unit before orders are placed and why they reserve a cut of the profits. If National didn’t want a cut off the money they’d just let the units earn money.”

    Bert, the local Council BUYS the popcorn from Trails’ End or the other popcorn vendor. Then they turn around and dole it out to units who participate and those units are responsible for selling it and accounting for the sales, which depending on the local Council, amounts to a third or so of the sale of a popcorn tin. The other third goes to Trails End (NOT to “National”; again this is a LOCAL COUNCIL deal and NOT a “national mandated thing”) and a third goes to the unit.

    “Would I buy a wreath or card or tree or popcorn from some random kid? Of course not.”

    I bet you do. We all do. When those beggers…er…kids…come around selling things for school or church or community, we all find a few dollars to buy their wares. It’s part of being a part of a community and part of many kids’ growing up.

    “When National says that kids can’t try to make money as Scouts, that just seems greedy to me.”

    They ARE selling things to help their unit, Bert. They just can’t sell them wearing the official uniform — because the implication is that they are selling it “for National”. See…you wrote it yourself here in that above sentence. The fact is that when Scouts sell things and they are wearing a uniform that somehow they are selling it for the national organization. THEY ARE NOT. They are selling it for their local Council (if they approved the sales in uniform) OR they are selling it for their unit (in which they cannot be in uniform and cannot say “Boy Scouts sales” or “Cardinal Council sales”. There’s nothing wrong with “Troop 000 sales”, however; and there’s nothing wrong with the Scout explaining that they raising the money for camp or the Jamboree or a trip to Cancun with the rest of the Troop.

    “When I was a Scout, we raked yards and did a lot of fundraisers. We charged a fair price and we did great work but I believe we got our feet in the door because we were Scouts. Would you hire some random group of kids to take your yard? Probably not.”

    If my yard needed raking, I’d hire them. As long as they did a great job, I’d even recommend them to my neighbors and that croutchy old maid down the street too *smiling*!

    • Mike, I appreciate your clarifications. One question that I still have – youth are not to be in official uniform for most fundraisers. What if the unit has unit activity shirts and they all wear those for the car wash, yard raking, grocery bagging, etc.? Is this allowed or would it fall under the uniform prohibition? If my troop t-shirts have the BSA logo but say Troop XXXX, does that give the impression that funds are going to the BSA or to the Troop?

      • A uniform is a uniform….whether it’s the official field uniform or an activity uniform, as in the popular polo shirts or tee-shirts with a BSA logo. The public will still perceive this as the “BSA” doing the activity instead of “Troop XXX” doing the activity (even if, unfortunately, the shirts have “Troop XXX” on the shirts). I know that you and I will be able to “tell the difference” but the average person out there can’t make that leap that the fundraiser is for a specific Troop instead of the national organization (or its local affiliate).

  27. Councils and National want their cut. National may not get the cut directly but they surely must get some money kicked upstream and they don’t want to lose that. Especially now that they’ve lost members due to the all new gay-friendly BS of A. Have the corporate donations started rolling in? I’ll bet they haven’t. Don’t try asking anyone in the national office – they’ll ignore you.

    • Donations won’t roll in so long as the discrimination continues. In fact, more companies are planning to stop their BSA contributions because of their discrimination against gay leaders. Just wait.

      • You’re just as hateful as those you say hate you. It seems that there are those who have placed a large target on Scouting with the sole intention of having it all their way or destroying it. It saddens me more than you can imagine. While I was opposed to the change, I resolved myself to accept it & hope that the decision would allow us to move forward together in the spirit of Scouting. Guess not. Sad; very sad indeed.

        • Of course. Why do I want my friends kicked out for no good reason. Makes no sense. Not fair to them and not the Scouting organization we should be.

        • He didn’t say anything hateful. He stated a fact: Donations are going to be short until the discrimination continues. I’ve been scouting for 30 years, and I have stopped contributing. Until BSA reverses their policies, my unit will not participate in fundraising.

      • Brian: Stop with the descrimination crap. You progressives will not stop until the Boy Scouts joyfully become a gay organization. This is not what Boy Scouts is about. We at the local level care about scout advancement and learning, camping and other scout activities. Please go away.

        • I am at the local level and I care about the same thing you do. I’m not sure what a gay organization is, as you describe it. I just think it is rude and un-scoutlike to have an 17 year old gay eagle be fine to lead his troop, but the moment he turns 18, he is kicked out and can’t do that any more. Actually, wait, he can. If he is in Venturing, he is a youth until 21, so he can participate until then. That is logical. But at the new magic age of 21, he can’t lead any more. So is it 18 when gay boys turn evil or 21? I’m not sure.

        • zollweg, a gay organization is one that accepts homosexuality as natural, normal, and a choice of lifestyle, and promoting such as a valid and even beneficial lifestyle. Now that BSA has changed its standards to imply that gay is the way, it will begin advocating for the homosexual lifestyle. If for no other reason than that it needs corporate dollars to survive.

        • Yesterday: correct. It is natural and normal. God does not make mistakes. All boys deserve to learn and grow from the lessons in Scouting. I certainly respect your right to believe what you want. And I feel sorry for any youth who have to endure your attitude. The BSA is changing because it is the right thing to do, not just to get more money. Remember that in the 100+ year history, this was only an issue about 30 years ago, when BSA attorneys drafted a restrictive membership policy. We are correcting that mistake and getting closer to the original intent and spirit of the Scouting movement.

        • Zollweg, you write, “God does not make mistakes.” True enough, but people do. Since you brought up God, what does He say about homosexuality? Man shall not lie with man as he does with woman. Hmm. How about, “And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.” We are given intellect, to know the truth, and free will, to choose or not to follow the truth. BSA has chosen to accommodate those who burn in lust for homosexual acts. “Morally straight” was thrown out in favor of the gay lifestyle.

        • zollweg, I agree we have different views. In fact, as the years pass, I find I have less and less in common with people who wear the same uniform as do I. “Morally straight” means something entirely different to today’s Scouts and Scouters. As for Scouting magazine not being a proper forum, I can only quote Baden-Powell himself: “We aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of theology on Sundays,” and “It [religion] does not come in at all. It is already there. It is a fundamental factor underlying Scouting and Guiding.”

    • Think just a minute what you are saying. You have a choice. Participate or not. But ask yourself, do my actions & the words you speak or write match up to the Oath & Law? You need to move on in one way or the other.

  28. I am perfectly game to sell popcorn if my youth get more of the take than trails end and the council.

    My boys are out selling it and getting dog scraps after the 70%. Getting the doors slammed in their face, people screaming at them, one guy nearly tried to shoot one of them (the cops were called.)

    A 24 pack of the SAME popcorn sells in Wal-Mart for $5 – meaning they get about $2.50 per each box.

    40% of a 20 pack at $20 is $8. So Pop-Weaver uses our boys to make up for the loss at Wal-Mart. Very BAD Business.

    I prefer to have them do a fundraiser that don’t get them shot or hurt.

    • Wow. We have never had those kind of experiences. That is frightening. We have had people explain that they don’t support discrimination, share great stories about their scouting and eagle experiences, and had to fight for show and sell locations amongst the over saturation of packs and troops all wanting to schedule at the same places and times… What was really interesting is learning that popcorn is not sold by 1/3 of the councils. Why not? What do they sell? I hope we can get away from it one day

      • Zollweg: You asked what do other Councils who don’t do popcorn sales, and there’s a variety of answers to it. Some Councils are just fine with Friends of Scouting/Investment in Character, council events, and a strong foundation contribution “input”. Other Councils put on Scout shows or rallies and other Council-level events. Despite what some here may think, Trails’ End Popcorn is NOT a part of the BSA’s operation — it seems that way thanks to the cooperation between that firm (and another one, I can’t remember the name off hand) and the BSA’s marketing team.

        Depending on the community, one gets pleasant responses from the sales of popcorn and others well, they are a bit rude about it. What units can do is to separate all of the “national stuff” from the fact that this is THEIR Pack, THEIR Troop or Team, or THEIR Crew or Ship which is selling the popcorn (or anything else) for THEIR UNIT. Not for “national” and not for “Council”, although as we’ve discussed here, the local Council does get some benefit from the sales.

        I made a couple of phone calls last night and was reassured that NO, “National” does not get a DIME from the sales of the popcorn sold from your local Council. Not even in some sort of “kickback scheme”. The reason why not is because it’s your Council’s money — not “national’s money”. The Boy Scouts of America on a national scale is funded differently than the local Councils are. They sell supplies and uniforms, books and manuals. They charge Scouts and Scouters for attendance at Jamborees and their four Outdoor Adventure (“High Adventure”) bases. They ask for those donations from Big Box Inc. and their CEOs and others who have money to share and desire to share some of it with the BSA. They use the registration and Boys’ Life fees. That’s where the “national” money comes from.

        • I appreciate your research, knowledge, and sharing… I can tell you that years where we have said we wouldn’t do popcorn or have not done popcorn, Council and District have made our life as volunteers a living Hell. Multiple calls from both council and district to each and every leader in the unit to try to change our mind. “Shaming” at roundtables. Emails to the unit to try to change our mind and to the families, as if we “forgot” to order. It’s institutional bullying and not scout-like. Most people in our unit either believe we “have” to sell it or know we don’t but feel like maybe we should just to avoid all that ugliness.

        • The best thing to do is simply ignore BSA’s rules on fundraising and do whatever you want. There’s really nothing BSA can do to stop you from having a fundraiser.

        • “Me” stated: “The best thing to do is simply ignore BSA’s rules on fundraising and do whatever you want. There’s really nothing BSA can do to stop you from having a fundraiser.”

          Nice. And I take it you tell your Scouts this…that it’s okay to do whatever you want because nobody’s going to stop or advise you otherwise. You know that Scouting has three aims, and one of them is citizenship development. By your comments, you are stating that that aim has, well, no “aim”. Good luck with that — and good luck to your Scouts you’re teaching by example with that point of view!

        • Mike, you replied much nicer to “Me” than I would have!!! I admire your constraint! I absolutely cannot stand that kind of “do whatever you want” attitude and loathe the fact that type of person is influencing the morals and values of our youth! …I sure hope that was at least a parent-only and not a registered leader! Even their identifier “Me” shows they only think about themselves. I applaud your reply, again! Bryan would have had to censored mine! LOL! 🙂

  29. In the United Kingdom bag packing as well call it is, by far, our most successful way of fund raising. Interesting how different Associations have different rules.

    • Indeed. At little common sense certainly could go a LONG way. If you live in a locality where the grocery store supports this fundraiser, then good on ya!

  30. What is so infuriating about the national “leaders: is that they are so caught up in how the local troops raise funds, especially in these tough economic times, and then go and raise the dues more than 50%. Nice going guys. Sometimes I wonder if you are for us or against us.

  31. Steve wrote in part and asked: “I’m curious why the reaction is so focused on the donation nature of it compared to the use of uniforms. From what the Unit Money Earning Application says, it seems pretty obvious that for a unit fundraiser scouts should not wear their uniforms. (Why that is doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s not what I’m asking about.) Why was Mark Moshier’s response only to the handling of funds and no mention about the uniforms?”

    The short answer is because Mark doesn’t handle “uniforming” with the BSA, that’s why. As the lead professional on the BSA’s Council Fund Development Team, his role in life is to support local Councils with campaigns and projects which will further their local Councils.

    It has been a long standing policy (written in the BSA’s Charter and Bylaws) that Scouts and Scouters do not “commercialize” wearing the official uniform unless it has been approved IN ADVANCE (not after the fact) by the local Council, representing the “Corporation” (the Boy Scouts of America, Inc.). This has not changed just because we’re living in a new century — as a matter of fact, it has been strengthened by the further trademarking/copyrighting of some of our terms, logos and images. This is all designed to keep the BSA out of the “the official whatever of the BSA” business we WERE in back in the 40s, 50s and early 60s (those of you with earlier versions of our “hymnals” can look in the backside and find all kinds of ads for various products carrying the BSA’s seal… very little of it is done today).

    Bryan can provide us with the name of the BSA professional lead managing our uniform and insignia programming.

  32. Zollweg thanks me for the information and background I’ve shared with all of you (glad to assist) and wrote: “I can tell you that years where we have said we wouldn’t do popcorn or have not done popcorn, Council and District have made our life as volunteers a living Hell. Multiple calls from both council and district to each and every leader in the unit to try to change our mind. “Shaming” at roundtables. Emails to the unit to try to change our mind and to the families, as if we “forgot” to order. It’s institutional bullying and not scout-like. Most people in our unit either believe we “have” to sell it or know we don’t but feel like maybe we should just to avoid all that ugliness.”

    And what do we tell our Scouts when this kind of bullying is going on and you’re not getting any “joy” from informing those directly involved in it? You keep going until you find someone to listen and act upon your bullying and pushing around.

    Have you talked with your Council’s Scout Executive or Commissioner (or both)? Do you realize that they have counterparts at the “state” (Regional Area) and Regional basis?

    Before “taking it higher”, please consider why they are trying to get you to participate. Yes, that ten or fourteen percentage that the Council takes in sounds awfully small in the larger scheme of things…but that’s ten or fourteen percent of their annual budget. If they don’t get a lot of units to participate, they lose money which they either have to raise it someplace else…or everyone does without some part of the Council’s services which everyone has been dependent upon. $50K or so pays for a District Executive for a year. While some will say “good…we really don’t need him or her”, those are typically the people who had little to no usage for the rest of the Council’s services (and I always question “then why are you involved in Scouting…and don’t give me that “it’s for the boys” line, because if it was truly “for the boys”, you will realize that the program extends well past your unit…and it involves other elements, and that professional manager keeps those things together while we’re all working…”).

    But surely, if you’ve explained it to your District’s volunteers and your District Executive WHY your unit does not want to participate, and they keep on pushing your collective chests with their fingers to get you to participate….then it’s time for you to talk with your Council’s Scout Executive and the Council’s Commissioner and ask them to “please tell them to back off…”

    This is what we in Scouting in part teaches our youth. We teach based on our own example and modeling.

    • I get it, but once I say “no” one time, I don’t need to be pestered, and I don’t need to try to find people to complain to. I know they are trying to do their job. they want the money. We also should be teaching that “no means no” in many situations. We all know that council wants us to sell popcorn. If we order it we order it. If we don’t one polite email or call to ask “did you forget or are you participating” is reasonable. Once we say no, there should not be further calls, emails, or pestering whatsoever. All of this is hidden from the boys, so there is no example to teach them here. We hide the boys from the red tape of corporate scouting so they can focus on the details of the program they want to run…

  33. Actually, one of our local grocery chains allows any group to come in and bag groceries as a fundraiser. They pay the troop a lump sum total to the same wage as the baggers who work there for the number of hours they contribute; if the customers want to “tip” the Scouts for bagging or carrying their bags, that is up to them. We don’t solicit for contributions. This type of fundraising in our troop is usually reserved for those Scouts raising funds to attend a high adventure or another specific purpose.

  34. Sometimes these blog comments get WAY OFF TOPIC.

    I started thinking that you should not do this based on the rules stated above. BUT how different is this from a car wash? What if you have a “FREE car wash and take a donation for it? Or do you have to have a set price. A lot of troop do this to get around local laws about taxation and business laws.
    What if the scouts were bagging in only half the available lanes? Then the shoppers would have the option to not use these lanes.

    What if they bagged for free and sold something for the fundraiser at the front door? That sounds like a win-win.

  35. Nothing to stop an individual patrol from bagging for tips on their own as long as it’s not under troop auspices. We set the donation jar on the table near where one of our Scout’s Mothers sits. We don’t actually ask for a tip; it’s totally voluntary

  36. Tom wrote “I started thinking that you should not do this based on the rules stated above. BUT how different is this from a car wash? What if you have a “FREE car wash and take a donation for it? Or do you have to have a set price. A lot of troop do this to get around local laws about taxation and business laws.”

    Which is a great reason why you need to fill out a money-earning form; and why you need to adhear with all local laws and ordinances. If you’re rasing monies for Scouting, you need to set a reasonable price (value) for the service you are providing (washing cars). And you can’t take “donations” — even providing a “donation piggy” or “jar” is not allowed.

    “What if the scouts were bagging in only half the available lanes? Then the shoppers would have the option to not use these lanes.”

    Doesn’t really matter…and you and I know that if a bunch of kids are providing a service, we are more than likely to go where the kids are…

    “What if they bagged for free and sold something for the fundraiser at the front door? That sounds like a win-win.”

    It does sound like a “win-win”, until someone decides that they don’t want to purchase that item.

    Phred wrote: “Nothing to stop an individual patrol from bagging for tips on their own as long as it’s not under troop auspices. We set the donation jar on the table near where one of our Scout’s Mothers sits. We don’t actually ask for a tip; it’s totally voluntary”

    But you’re still doing it as a SCOUTING fundraiser, even if it’s a patrol or even an individual Scout doing it. We don’t take donations. Everything has to stand on its own merits, not “we’re doing this for the BSA”. Yes, your Patrol is a part of a Troop, and therefore they should be a money-earning application submitted so that everyone is aware of the fundraising event.

  37. Mike wrote: “So let’s split this hair with a 21st century twist that once again illustrates the youth are waayyyyy ahead of the Walnut Hill Lane Gang” and provided a link to a crowdsourcing story about a Troop who wants to raise money for a trip to Germany.

    To me, this is no different than making a presentation to a Kiwanis or Lions Club and asking them to help underwrite a Scout’s participation in the National Jamboree, Mike, or to help fund a trip to Philmont or the Summit. Scouts have been doing things like this for decades and it doesn’t violate the spirit of the fundraising policies because the local Council was informed (and gave permission) before the presentation was given.

    If the Troop did not get their Council’s permission, they need to do so and explain how they intend on documenting and “providing value” for those who provided contributions. In the cases of those Scouts and Venturers who did the presentations to various social and service clubs, they return after the event is over and provide a presentation to those same organizations, thanking them and providing feedback as to how their money was spent.

      • Bart wrote: “So getting your groceries bagged doesn’t count as “value” but hearing a little story does?”

        They BOTH count as “value”, but let’s think a bit about the scope.

        In the grocery bagging deal, there is a particular value associated with the bagging. As someone wrote earlier, it could be that the grocery chain has figured out the “cost of having someone to bag groceries” and that’s the cost that the Scouting unit should use.

        In the speaking for a contribution deal, the value comes from those hearing or witnessing the speech or presentation. A good speech, as evident from national speakers, can net a person a lot of money. A lackluster one, and you may get very little if anything.

    • Now this one really puzzles me – how is this not soliciting donations (either the KickStarter or the pitch to Kiwanis, etc.)?

      The guide to money-earning projects states,
      “The BSA Rules and Regulations state, “Youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money for their chartered organizations, for the local council, or in support of other organizations. Adult and youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money in support of personal or unit participation in local, national, or international events.””

      I doubt very much that groups who go the presentation route are setting a speaking fee for their service so where is the difference between giving a presentation and asking for support and holding a car wash, bagging groceries, etc. without a fixed price for the service?

  38. MT_Momma wrote and asked: “Now this one really puzzles me – how is this not soliciting donations (either the KickStarter or the pitch to Kiwanis, etc.)?

    The guide to money-earning projects states,
    “The BSA Rules and Regulations state, “Youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money for their chartered organizations, for the local council, or in support of other organizations. Adult and youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money in support of personal or unit participation in local, national, or international events.””

    I think that those lines need to be clarified a bit, for we’ve had a lot instances whereby youth members have provided presentations and speeches — but they have not come right out and said “What I need from you this evening is $300 to help fund our trip to the Cancun” or something like that. What they have done is to explain why their trip to Cancun is important and why the individual or unit is doing the trip now. I am sure that those attending can read between the lines and figure out that it’s going to cost money to get them there and back.

    I know that many Scouts wanting to go to the Jamboree have presented programs to various organizations, stating “I would love to attend and I would do you all proud from my attendance and participation” without stating “…and the reason why I’m here is to see if I can get some funding support from you.” Its a fine line and that’s why that form should be submitted so that folks can sit in an office and hash out where the line is and how best to support the event without crossing that line.

    That’s the best way I can answer it.

    “I doubt very much that groups who go the presentation route are setting a speaking fee for their service so where is the difference between giving a presentation and asking for support and holding a car wash, bagging groceries, etc. without a fixed price for the service?”

    I don’t know personally where that line is, but there is a difference. In speaking, at least in my personal experience, I have to bite my tongue when talking to groups outside of Scouting about donating or direct financial support. I can say things like “Scouting’s important and it needs your public and financial support…” but I can’t say “I’m here to get a check from you to help the Council grow.” I CAN, however, say that during a Friends of Scouting presentation or during a specific Scouting event. When people ask me “how can they support ME in what I do,” I have to turn them down because while I could definitely use the money — the reason why I am there is to bring awareness to the positive values of Scouting and not to fund a trip to Cancun (or anywhere else for that matter). The “value” of my words will become dependent upon each person listening or observing my presentation.

    In holding a car wash or bagging groceries, there is a definite “value” associated with those events, and we in Scouting must be careful not to “price” or “place a value” associated with it because “it’s for the Scouts (meaning “it’s for the BSA”). Instead, we place the value to assist that Patrol with going to Cancun or summer camp; we place the value to assist the Troop with new camping equipment, a new flag and funding the Senior Patrol Leader to NYLE.

  39. I have a question that I would like clarified. As this topic says we can’t solicit funds, does this mean that we cannot solicit donations from local businesses or apply for any grants from say the Walmart foundation? In the past we have requested and received donations from businesses for supply for our blue and gold banquet’s

    • Bob, those kinds of donations and support is best left to your District and Council volunteers and professional to handle. This goes in most cases well above unit fundraising, which is what I understand is the scope of this discussion.

      • Mike,
        B&G fundraising IS unit fundraising. You can’t seriously think my pack should rely on district to solicit donations/discounts for the pack’s event? They’d laugh me all the way home.

  40. Bryan,

    This seems more worthwhile than reselling someone else’s products, whether it be popcorn, wreaths or some of the other fundraisers that I have heard of.

    Does that mean, the store couldn’t give a flat fee for bagging instead of asking for donations at the checkout?


    Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

  41. I’m still confused. Perhaps it is the way things are on military installations and the Commissaries.
    The baggers at the Commissaries also work for tips. They provide a “service” and they are in turn “paid” for it. (you can bag your own groceries and/or you can just not pay a tip, there is no obligation, it is a voluntary “donation”).
    So what is the difference if a Scout is providing the service of cleaning a car or a cut Christmas tree (both “services”, since they can both be done by the individual him/herself) or bagging groceries (which can be done by the buyer him/herself)?
    What is the difference in “soliciting” a donation, with an open box with a sign on it that says something like “support your local Boy Scout Troop”, for hanging up garments at a social function? A service is provided and a non-mandatory donation, in any denomination, is rendered……
    There is gray area, please make it more black & white.

    • Kreg, based on the discussion and on Mike Walton’s clarifications, I would have to say that it is pretty black & white (although the Kiwanis, etc. speaking route seems to sit on a razor-fine line):
      -Providing a product or service for a donation is not allowed.
      -Providing a product or service for a fixed price is allowed.
      Scouts should not be in uniform in most cases and unit money earning paperwork should be submitted to your council.

        • Well, phred, regardless of whether you support the Trail’s End product or not, it is a product sold for a fixed price. You either choose to buy it at that price or not. Same is true of the band fruit, baseball chocolates, PTA cookie dough, etc., etc. Products sold as fundraisers are, almost by definition, overpriced. If not, there would be little margin to give to the seller.

    • I would not use a sign that says ‘Boy Scout Troop’, I would use a sign that says ‘summer camp fund’. Leave the Boy Scouts out of it. Since we are supposed to provide value, I believe I would put up a thermometer type chart with the dollar goal written at the top. Each week, hopefully, I could color in a little more of the thermometer. Yes, the store could give a flat fee since you’re now providing a service similar to picking up trash after the festival

  42. Can anyone offer guidance on aluminum can recycling? We have a bin our scouts made, located in our CO parking lot. The proceeds of donated cans help us fund our troop. Is this allowed?

    • Yep, along with paper recycling. Those things help clean our enviorns as well as to provide income for units and/or chartered partner organizations. Whether you go around and collect cans or place a bin and announce this is where your empty cans can go…it’s a good *service project* as well as fund raiser.

  43. So no scout should have there own fundraising account log.. cause we did numerous of fundraisers each year.. from selling pancakes..to working at the pizza place up town..to bake sales..and then we divided the money up for each child to use during the year for scouts.. so this would no be permitted?

  44. I came across this blog because I was researching fundraising ideas. My main concern was how the IRS ties into fundraising, and what the specific dos and don’ts were, now that the IRS has put it’s two cents in.

    • Several things to say on this. I am a Unit Leader and an attorney, but I do not speak for the BSA (or even for my Unit). Also, nothing in what follows is intended as legal advice – I’m just setting out my understanding of the law and policies, and my guesses as to the reasons the BSA does what it does. Unit fundraising is complex and tricky, and if you have access to an attorney who can help you should utilize that resource as much as you can. Bottom line: I think BSA is really trying to protect us and our Chartered Organizations with the fundraising policies. You are probably in good shape if your Unit fundraiser: 1) doesn’t use any marks or uniforms of the BSA, 2) does not _solicit_ (but does accept) donations that are freely offered and given, and 3) engages in an activity that is primarily about improving youth or providing service to the community, and only secondarily results in additional funds to the Unit.

      1. As far as Unit accounting goes, the Unit is part of the Chartered Organization *NOT* the Council. This is a big deal, and people get it wrong more often than right (for instance, notwithstanding his excellent guidance Mr. Walton gets it wrong in his comments on this blog post). I think of it as a subscription service – your CO wants to provide a valuable youth program. It could come up with something from scratch, but it prefers to have the massive resources and 100+ year history of BSA. So it asks for a charter to permit it to offer the BSA program. The resulting Unit is part of that organization. Most importantly for the present discussion, it is part of that organization’s accounting. _That_ is why your Unit cannot use the Council’s tax id: it is not part of the Council, and the Council cannot loan out its id to Chartering Organizations – the IRS won’t let it. Your Unit’s fundraising activity is done under the auspices of its CO, in accordance with the policies and procedures of the BSA (to which the CO has subscribed, and which it has agreed to follow). If your Unit violates the BSA’s fundraising policy, it is no longer a BSA Unit. The appropriate thing to do in that situation is relinquish the charter and no longer run the Unit under the banner of the BSA.

      2. Most Units are chartered to nonprofit organizations, typically 501(c)(3)s. Any Unit fundraising is, thus, subject to whatever constraints the organization is subject to. Nonprofits can raise money in a few different ways: 1) donative gifts; 2) selling goods or services; 3) funds that are a result of their ordinary non-profit purpose (for instance, tithe may fit here if it is considered a religious sacrament and not a voluntary gift). Donations and funds that are raised in pursuit of the non-profit purpose are tax free. Funds from sales of goods or services that are not a part of the non-profit purpose may be subject to tax. Have a look at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Unrelated-Business-Income-Defined.

      3. This means that regularly-conducted sales by your Unit could subject its CO to tax. Because many Units do not even properly report their finances to their CO or consolidate their finances in their CO’s accounting, this probably goes unreported more often than not. But I think some of the BSA’s fundraising policies are intended to protect COs from this sort of thing. The tax liability from UBI can be huge, and the failure to report it can lead to an audit and even the revocation of your CO’s tax-exempt status. _PLEASE_ check with your CO Rep on any fundraising activity, identify this concern, and ask them whether they are comfortable taking this risk before undertaking any fundraising.

      4. The BSA does not permit _solicitation_ of donations. It does not regulate acceptance of donations. I have been informed by my Council, and believe it to be consistent with BSA policy, that a Unit may accept donations that are offered without solicitation. So if the boys are just bagging groceries and carrying them to the car and someone gives them a tip, the boys (on behalf of the Unit) may accept the tip. They may not request a tip, or do anything that causes someone to feel compelled to offer a tip. They may not suggest an appropriate amount of a tip. This gets hairy fast. When doing a carwash, for instance, it is typical to have a “Suggested donation amount”. Why? don’t want to charge a fee, for fear of UBI tax. But BSA has indicated that a “suggested donation” is inappropriate. I do not know how to resolve this tension.

      5. The BSA has become very protective over its trademarks. I do not know that it has ever said so, but I believe this is at least in part in response to some clarifications of the US trademark law. In essence, it has now become clear that companies that fail to police the use of their mark, including by requiring explicit permission for any use, may lose the ability to enforce the mark. In the case of the BSA, that would be horrible for all of us. Among other things, it would mean that other organizations that do not agree with the BSA’s policies could nonetheless use the BSA’s symbols and marks in marketing their program. The resulting confusion is undesirable. I believe that BSA requires Council approval for the use of the uniform in fundraising activities in order to preserve BSA’s ability to enforce the mark.

      6. Popcorn sales suck, and do not do much good for the Council or the Unit. But they are defensible as part of the Boy Scout program. As a result, sales of popcorn are probably not subject to UBI tax. For most Units, Unit fundraising should be similar: the purpose of the fundraising should be, first and foremost, to improve youth or provide service and value to the community. The fact that the Unit makes money from it is, and should be, secondary.

      7. Remember that most Units are chartered to 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Nonprofits may lose their tax status if any part of their fundraising inures to the benefit of an individual. That is the essential difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit venture: a for-profit company produces profits that its shareholders share, whereas a nonprofit pays out any money it makes in pursuit of its charitable purpose. If a shareholder is getting some profit from the operations of a business, by definition that business is for-profit and not entitled to the 501(c)(3) tax exemption. When your non-profit fundraising activity is credited to the account of a single boy, it has the effect of giving that boy a share of the profits of the activity. Aside from creating a tax liability, this is also very likely fraud: the donations to the nonprofit may have been made based not the affirmative representation that 1) they would be tax exempt, and 2) they would benefit a charitable purpose and not a single individual. Again, I believe the BSA’s policies are, in part, intended to shield COs from misguided Unit fundraising that results in a problem.

      I hope someone finds this helpful, and that it clarifies something.

  45. In my opinion, most everything that Scouts do should be done in Scout uniform, especially fundraising. Increased visibility is paramount to recruitment and can only help with fundraising efforts. Personally, I would open my door in advance of a uniformed Scout approaching while I may not even answer the door for “some kid in street clothes”. The public needs to see us doing what we do and needs to be able to easily recognize us for what we are. There used to be tremendous pride in wearing a Scout uniform, but anymore you just don’t see Scouts – or you do see them but have no idea they are Scouts because they are in street clothes.
    I understand the policies on this, and I find them completely baseless. I find it ridiculous to assume that potential donors are being fooled in to supporting a local unit over National. Support is support and I think supporters would much rather support on a more localized level.
    I am incensed by the restrictions from National placed upon fundraising at a Unit level. If the religious and civic entities which charter and support Scouting programs utilize proven fundraising methods such as 50/50 raffles and services for donations, why is the Scouting organization so steadfastly against them? Many smaller units are suffering through reduced participation and financial hardships – both of which could easily be alleviated through better fundraising alternatives coupled with more uniformed activities in the public’s eye. Fundraising and recruitment go hand in hand, it’s just good for Scouting.

  46. So, National and Council can solicit or beg for money but a unit cannot. That is a double standard which doesn’t aid in teaching kids.

  47. So our boy scout troop sold popcorn this year, and during the course of the show and sell event, there were several people whom said they don’t want popcorn, or said they could not afford the $10.00 bag, but said they wanted to still support our troop and asked if they could make a donation, (there was no jar box, sign or anything that implied that were seeking an donation.) Of course the scout said yes we accept donations. (as this is how the scout was instructed to do). The person then would give a buck or 2.Now that the sales event is over our troops popcorn chair received a e-mail from the area council stating that all donations collected during the popcorn sale must be made into Military items. a seen here:

    All donations collected during the popcorn sale must be made into military items and ordered with your Take Order. We know people are happy to support/donate to Scouts, thus realize every unit should have some military items on their Take Order.

    We suggest collecting all monetary donations and dividing them into $30 and $50 increments (to make complete military item orders), instead of crediting individual Scouts. Uneven amounts will not count towards Scout sales or prizes (try to get additional donations to get $30/$50 level). This will yield the highest return to your unit.

    Now nowhere in the literature that was handed out to our popcorn chair, did it ever state that all donations would go to the military, and I can assure you that if a scout said, we accept donations, but that donation would go to the military, they would not have given the money. Now these kids are out there selling there buts off to raise money for their troop as the slogan on the bag evens says (73% stays local). These scouts are not out there to raise money for the Military. This just happened today and that how I came across this msg board. Now there is an option for for people to buy popcorn for the military at $30 or $50 rate, and there is also a Military donation receipt to issue. Now this same receipt also states 73% of your purchase goes to local scouting, so what is it an donation or a purchase. Note in the e-mail that the council states that uneven amounts will not count towards scout sales or prizes (our impression is that no donations would go towards popcorn sales or donations) Where does the uneven amount go? The council also say’s people are happy to support/donate to scouts. there are a lot of people in this country that don’t support the military, I honestly don;t think this should even be on the form or an option especially while in a scout uniform. I don’t think it’s legal for a group to present them self as one entity and then the money collected goes to another. and then to ask the popcorn chair to consolidate all the little donations to make it, meet the $30/50 mark. and have a bag of popcorn sent off somewhere. this is not accurate accountability, and the council may be asking the popcorn chair to commit fraud, by doing so. as the donations collected were not intended to go to the military. In fact in one of the selling tips, The council suggest the following response if a person complains about the price.-If people complain about the price, explain that we see it as donating the money, the popcorn is more of a thank you gift, and tell them that 73% of the money stays local. So based on that everything is an donation.
    And if according to other post if wearing the BSA uniform represents the National Council, and the brand needs to be protected, why would anything go to the military.
    What I’m see this is, that for some reason they are using our kids to get money from the public to support the military, which is wrong in so many ways. And I’m sure you all are aware that of the $3000.00 dollars of popcorn our troop sold, the troop will only get $1000.00. that’s 33%, they do sneaky marketing (this was our first year in boyscouts) How would the military feel if the scouts went out looking for donations for veterans/wounderwarrior or one of the many military charities, then send the scouts MRE’s for their camping and backpack trips. So our boys were given (unsolicited) almost $500 dollars that the good citizens of this community thought that was going to the troop. I looked up the Council on the state website and found that of Dec 2013 the Assets of the troop were $39million dollars YES THAT’S RIGHT. And that was $5million more than what it started with at the start of the year. It did spend $6million in program services of the $12million it brought in. Now our kids are earning .33 cents on the dollar for the troop. The Scout Law’s 1st value is TRUSTWORTHY how is doing what this e-mail from the council suggest or accepting donations that the scout believes goes to his troop fall into being trustworthy?

  48. So. What if a parent, grand-parent or community group were to create a funding page using one of the popular crowdfunding pages. But it wasn’t setup by leader, committee member or scout. But the funding page is worded that the monies raised are going to help local Scout Packs/Troops for gear and expenses. Would this be allowed? Being a committee member this has been brought up before as a way to help pay for something, but was always brought up as “why doesn’t the troop/pack use gofundme?”. We always say that we can’t, it isn’t allowed under the current guidelines of fundraising. But with recent new additions comes new thoughts, which was “well if you can’t, can I do it?”

  49. O.K. so now we know the rules. Next question is about what to do with the money earned? If there cannot be individual accounts for each boy, how is he “earning his own way”? When 1 boy sells much more than another boy and all the profits go into the unit’s treasury, how is it legally used? How does the fundraising chairman explain to the boys what happens to the money earned? If a trip to Patriot’s Point costs each boy $100 and we tell the parents he can “earn his own way” by selling sponsorships for Wreaths Across America (but NOT to wear his uniform while doing so!) and each wreath earns $5 profit for the unit, it would be logical to assume he would need to sell 20 and his trip would be paid for by the unit. But what if he sells only 10? would he then need to pay for only half his trip? What if he sells 40? Who would get to use that money? Do we take the entire amount of profit and divide it by the number of boys signed up to go and they each pay equal amounts to make up the difference? And what about the leaders or parents who are going? Is part of their fee subsidized by the sale?

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