This troop has fundraising in the bag (Update: Project not BSA-approved)

RETRACTION, Jan. 30: Fundraisers like this one are not permitted by the Boy Scouts of America. Please read the official explanation here.

The original post is below.

Would you like paper or plastic?

Or maybe you’d prefer some cold, hard cash.

One troop says bagging groceries for tips at the local supermarket is “the best fundraiser our troop does by far.” Would it work for your unit?

“We generally work two to four lanes at a time depending on how busy it is,” Scouter Jeff commented on a recent post. “We have ice cream buckets labeled with where we are going, and the money goes into a general fund for the trip and for gas.”

That brings up a larger point about fundraisers: You might find more success if you tell the potential giver exactly how you’ll use their donation. People are more likely to donate if you say “Help send us on a backpacking trip to Philmont” than if you use the vague “Help support our troop” line.

As for the grocery-bagging fundraiser, Jeff says his boys “raised $2,000 bagging groceries in an 8,000-population community on only four separate dates.” He adds that the troop was there from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and “Scouts worked two-hour shifts in uniform.”

The money earned reduced the cost of an upcoming trip to about $30 per boy, he writes.

Of course, this won’t work with every unit. And larger chain supermarkets may be less open to the idea than independently owned grocers. But the worst they can do is say no. If you do try it, Jeff adds a reminder to fill out the appropriate council forms and to choose your dates wisely.

“If you choose the days before Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas people tip generously,” he says.

Has this worked for your pack, troop, team or crew? Have a better idea? Leave it in the comments.

Jan. 30 update: This post has been retracted. Please read the official explanation here.

Photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by I-5 Design & Manufacture

20 thoughts on “This troop has fundraising in the bag (Update: Project not BSA-approved)

  1. While my troop has done this, I’m personally not a fan of this type of “fundraising”. It’s barely one step up from “canning”. Yes, the Scout is performing a “service” by bagging groceries, however, it’s really not necessary, and implies that the store customer must tip, even if they don’t want the “service” performed. The service is almost forced on the store customers. Many people struggle to make ends meet, and even a dollar or two tip could be a burden. Unlike setting up a popcorn stand at the store entrance, it’s harder for customers to ignore a Scout standing at the end of the check out bagging area if they have no desire to make a donation. Lets stick with fundraising methods that truly offer real goods & services for customers vs. this implied tip method.

  2. When I lived in the UK at Christmas time the local Scouts would bag for tips. It was great, I didn’t have to bag and I didn’t mind the donation

  3. I question on whether this is the “best fundraiser ever”. Using the numbers in the article let’s look at what they actually make. They made $2000 over 4 days or $500 per day. They worked 6 hours per day or $83.33 per hour. They stated they worked 4 lanes so they had to have at least 4 Scouts plus adults working during this time making it $20.83 per Scout per hour worked. This amount is reduced further if there are more than just the 4 Scouts working.

    Fundraising is about maximized the time effort versus the money earned. This does present a good rate on time invested. However, it is very comparable to popcorn sales.

    In research done around the country, the average Sales at a Show and Sell is $45 per hour per Scout. Depending on the commission rate in your council, the profit ranges from $13.50 to $22.50 per hour per Scout. The difference is a Scout can also go door-to-door to sell popcorn and part of the proceeds goes to your council to help run program. Bagging groceries does not.

    When evaluating a Unit Fundraiser, one must determine the dollar amount raised per hour per Scout to find out if the fundraiser is worth the time and effort. I do congratulate the Unit for finding something that works for them.

  4. This feels so wrong to me. Item 7 on the back of the Unit Money-Earning Application reads in part: “At no time are units permitted to solicit contributions for unit programs.” Does collecting tips for providing a service fall under the category of “soliciting?”
    I wonder what William D. Boyce would think of this.

    • Yep,

      We got in trouble for ring the bell for the salvation army a couple of years ago.

      Just as they tell us no donation jars on the table at the popcorn sale…….

      • Were you ringing the bell as a service project to get money for the Salvation army? Or was it a fundraiser – did the salvation army give you all or a portion of the donations? I don’t really like the salvation army as a charity for a variety of reasons including their discrimination and poor payout of donations versus executive salaries/etc. That’s besides the point, I’m curious why exactly you were dinged for ringing the bell?!?

      • Sure, by some rule (where is that posted anyway), you can’t have a donation jar, but when you collect donations you can and should keep them separate from your popcorn (or other funds). I’d suggest you use one of those red and white striped, old-timey looking plastic popcorn tubs on your table. It’s not a jar and it doesn’t say donations and it isn’t a donation jar, to be clear.

    • Agreed! Scouting was founded with a tip not being accepted. For that reason, when asked “what is a good gift to give a new Eagle” we give “product” examples and state never cash – a scout should not receive cold hard cash for his accomplishments or for doing a good deed.

  5. It’s a sad fact that, because of the numerous rules (or lack of clarity of them), most of the stories posted here from Scouting magazine produce more questions than answers.

  6. Our Troop hosts a 5k Fun Run. We just had or first run 25 Jan. It was 18°, we had 55 runners at $20 per runner, we promoted fitness and made a couple bucks, it was awesome!

  7. Let me just drop a quick note to say thanks to those who pointed out that fundraisers like these aren’t BSA-approved. You’re right. Please see my new post with the official response, which I’ve linked to above.

  8. So, despite the “retraction,” I believe fundraisers like this are permitted and appropriate for Scouting. All you have to do is charge for the bagging, rather than solicit for donations. The retraction is over the top and the addendum is verbose without actually saying this. The rule is: provide a product/service for a price = okay. Provide it but ask for a donation/tip, not okay. At least that’s what it looks like…

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