Read this list of do’s and don’ts before your next unit fundraiser

Where will your next Scouting adventure take you? You’re limited only by your imagination — and, yes, your budget.

Fundraisers conducted through your local Scout council, such as Scout popcorn sales, are a no-brainer. They’ve already been reviewed, meaning they follow all BSA rules and regulations.

But some Scout units like to earn additional funds for Scouting by supplementing those projects with their own. That’s fine, provided you follow this list of fundraising do’s and don’ts. It comes from Russ McNamer, the BSA’s associate general counsel for all things taxes.

Fundraising do’s

  1. Do file a unit money-earning project application for approval by both the local council and the chartering organization. Submit this application to your council service center at
    least two weeks in advance of the proposed date of your project.
  2. Do check local laws regarding solicitation rules and permits.
  3. Do select money-earning projects that are suited to the ages and abilities of youth participants.
  4. Do select money-earning projects that teach youth members to earn their own way.
  5. Do follow safe practices listed in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Fundraising don’ts

  1. Don’t solicit funds in the name of Scouting; only local councils have the authority to solicit funds.
  2. Don’t conduct unit money-earning projects without adequate adult supervision.
  3. Don’t forget to use the buddy system, and don’t go into unsafe or unfamiliar areas.
  4. Don’t conduct unit money-earning projects after dark or in unsafe pedestrian areas.
  5. Don’t sell fireworks as a unit money-earning project. That’s an unauthorized activity.

Even more guidance

Pay attention to the second page the unit money-earning project application. There you’ll find a guide to unit money-earning projects with eight questions and answers about fundraisers. I’ve pasted it below for your convenience:

A unit’s money-earning methods should reflect Scouting’s basic values. Whenever your unit is planning a money-earning project, this checklist can serve as your guide. If your answer is “Yes” to all the questions that follow, it is likely the project conforms to Scouting’s standards and will be approved.

1. Do you really need a fundraising project?

There should be a real need for raising money based on your unit’s program. Units should not engage in money-earning projects merely because someone has offered an attractive plan. Remember that individual youth members are expected to earn their own way. The need should be beyond normal budget items covered by dues.

2. If any contracts are to be signed, will they be signed by an individual, without reference to the Boy Scouts of America and without binding the local council, the Boy Scouts of America, or the chartered organization?

Before any person in your unit signs a contract, he must make sure the venture is legitimate and worthy. If a contract is signed, he is personally responsible. He may not sign on behalf of the local council or the Boy Scouts of America, nor may he bind the chartered organization without its written authorization. If you are not sure, check with your district executive for help.

3. Will your fundraiser prevent promoters from trading on the name and goodwill of the Boy Scouts of America?

Because of Scouting’s good reputation, customers rarely question the quality or price of a product. The nationwide network of Scouting units must not become a beehive of commercial interest.

4. Will the fundraising activity uphold the good name of the BSA? Does it avoid games of chance, gambling, etc.?

Selling raffle tickets or other games of chance is a direct violation of the BSA Rules and Regulations, which forbid gambling. The product must not detract from the ideals and principles of the BSA.

5. If a commercial product is to be sold, will it be sold on its own merits and without reference to the needs of Scouting?

All commercial products must sell on their own merits, not the benefit received by the Boy Scouts. The principle of value received is critical in choosing what to sell.

6. If a commercial product is to be sold, will the fundraising activity comply with BSA policy on wearing the uniform?

The official uniform is intended to be worn primarily for use in connection with Scouting activities. However, council executive boards may approve use of the uniform for any fundraising activity. Typically, council popcorn sales or Scout show ticket sales are approved uniform fundraisers.

7. Will the fundraising project avoid soliciting money or gifts?

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.” For example: Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and leaders should not identify themselves as Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts or as a troop/pack participate in The Salvation Army’s Christmas Bell Ringing program. This would be raising money for another organization. At no time are units permitted to solicit contributions for unit programs.

8. Does the fundraising activity avoid competition with other units, your chartered organization, your local council, and the United Way?

Check with your chartered organization representative and your district executive to make certain that your chartered organization and the council agree on the dates and type of fundraiser.