How to create a budget for your pack, troop or crew

Once you and your Scouts have planned a year of Scouting fun, it’s time for the less-fun part.

It’s time to figure out how to pay for it all.

Creating a budget for your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew is an essential part of every well-managed, well-financed unit.

Asking families for money every week is discouraged. You’re better off figuring out the total cost for the complete year up front. No surprises.

Today we’ll outline the five-step process to planning an annual budget, list what expenses to include and discuss possible sources of income for your unit.

Create a budget in five steps

  1. Plan your unit’s complete annual program, so you’ll know where you’ll spend your money.
  2. Develop a budget that includes enough income to pay for your unit’s annual program.
  3. Identify all sources of income, including dues, and determine the amount of product (popcorn, for example) that will need to be sold per youth member to reach the income goal.
  4. Identify service projects the unit might complete to bring in income.
  5. Get commitments from parents and youth.

Expenses to include in your budget

This list includes almost everything that might cost your unit money over the course of a year.

  1. Registration fees. The national registration fee is $24 per member — adults and Scouts.
  2. Unit liability insurance fee. Units are required to pay an annual unit liability insurance fee of $40, submitted with the unit’s annual charter application.
  3. Boys’ Life magazine. The official publication of the Boy Scouts of America is available to all members at $12 — half the newsstand rate. Every Scout should subscribe to Boys’ Life because it’s fun, keeps him reading and enhances your unit’s monthly program.
  4. Unit accident and liability insurance. Protecting parents from the financial hardship of high medical bills from an unfortunate accident is a must for all involved in Scouting. Ask your local council for details.
  5. Awards, advancement and recognition. Costs for Cub Scout adventure loops, Boy Scout merit badges, Venturing awards and more should be built into your budget.
  6.  Activities. Typically, activities like the Pinewood Derby, Cub Scout field trips, district or council events, high-adventure trips, and campouts aren’t included in the unit’s annual dues. They’re paid by families on a per-event basis. Consider including some or all of those costs in your unit’s annual budget.
  7. Camp. Cub Scout day camp, Cub Scout resident camp, family camping, Boy Scout summer camp, and a big Venturing or Sea Scouting trip. These special Scouting events — often the highlight of a young person’s year — should go in the budget.
  8. Program materials. Den meeting supplies, Den Meeting in a Box kits, craft tools and supplies, a U.S. flag, unit flags, camping equipment, videos and books, ceremonial props and more.
  9. Training. Adult and youth leader training should be considered an integral annual expense. For example, some units budget to send a certain number of adults to Wood Badge each year and ask Scouters to apply for these spots.
  10. Uniforms. In most units, the individual pays for the uniform. But you might consider whether uniform elements — or the full uniform itself — could be part of the unit budget.
  11. Reserve fund. The “rainy-day fund” might be established by a gift or loan from the chartered
    organization, by members of the committee, or by a unit money-earning project.
  12. Other expenses. A gift to the World Friendship Fund, meeting refreshments and anything else on which your unit might spend money.

Sources of income

One well-planned fundraiser per year, such as selling popcorn, will prevent having to ask families for extra money every week. And it will keep your young people from getting worn out by too much fundraising.

In some units, an additional fundraiser in the spring adds needed income.

Notes to remember:

  • Units are not allowed to solicit money by requesting contributions from individuals or the community.
  • Except for council-sponsored fundraisers, all fundraising projects require the submission of the Unit Money-Earning Application, No. 34427, to the local council.

For resources, go here

This page of BSA resources includes PowerPoint presentations, guides to creating a budget and even a fillable Excel spreadsheet.

For more insight, listen to ScoutCast

The April 2017 episode of ScoutCast — the monthly podcast for adult leaders — is all about planning a unit budget. Listen here or on your favorite podcast app.

The episode’s guest is Charlie Garwood, who has served as a Scoutmaster, Scouting coordinator, and district and council commissioner.

9 Comments

  1. Our pack would factor in discrete sponsorship of a couple of scout families. Some years it was used, others it was not. We dif not want money to be an obstacle, and we did not want the family to have to ask on each event. It simply became a discussion where we would say “let us know when you think you don’t need this”

    Others may cringe at such an open, trusting hand, but we were never abused on this.

    Also, cinsider paying for leader uniforms. We started put buying them used on Ebay and it was a positive game-changer

  2. Identify service projects the unit might complete to bring in income.

    It is not a service project if the unit charges for the service. You need to explain this bullet point.

  3. Some very good ideas! Especially, budgeting for a “discrete sponsorship” of a couple of Scout families.”

  4. Our annual troop budget has three line items: 1) annual insurance fee, 2) awards/patches, and 3) equipment needs. We do not have troop tents or a trailer, so our equipment costs are limited. This year for our equipment purchase, we built wheels for our Klondike Derby sleds due to the lack of snow. Less troop gear means we do less fundraising and more camping and hiking.

    I know we are unusual in not providing tents, and we revisit this every couple of years as new parents rotate into the troop committee. My observation is that people (not just scouts) take better care of things if they own them. Plus, as much as I think it is cool to see a campsite with matching tents, having an eclectic mix gives scouts a chance to set up and try a lot of different tent styles, as the scouts who bring tents may change from outing to outing. Most of our scouts already have tents anyway and are excited to bring and share them with their friends.

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