I received a question regarding raising money for a unit.. in light of a recent, or recent rash of unit trailers, canoes, and equipment being stolen. It seems that we are always hearing of a Scout Troop here and there having to deal with theft. The particular question was regarding Crowd Funding campaigns and if they are allowed in Scouting.
In doing a bit of looking there are issues that I have with Crowd funding in Scouting.. you can try it.. as long as they follow the rules. It is a bit of a sticky situation in that raising money as a Scout unit has specific guidelines that need to be followed.
The Unit Money Earning Application should be the units guide.
I would suggest that as long as the unit follows the rules and is very specific about the need for the money they need, they should submit the application and follow up with their local Council.
Here are some of the specifics I am talking about.
1. The unit money earning application asks questions. First of which “Do you really need a fund-raising project?” Is there a specific need that the Scouts can not pay their own way for? In the case of a unit trailer or stolen canoes the unit should examine how they can replace them before they start asking for money. Donation of a trailer or canoes perhaps?
Did the unit purchase the trailer the first time? Was the trailer insured and will be replaced. Replacement due to theft should not be an opportunity for upgrade.
“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. The second question is about contracts, “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?”
Earning money for big ticket items such as a trailer or canoes really needs to be looked at closely and discussed with the Charter Partner. Contrary to popular belief you can not represent the Boy Scouts of America when it comes to doing business. You should represent the organization well by your actions guided by the Oath and Law. A Scout is Thrifty and the Scout should pay his own way. A Scout earning his way to go to summer camp represents himself as he rakes leaves or mows lawns. It is not for the benefit of Scouting, rather the learning and development of the Scout. When dealing with contracts the local council should be involved. As the application states, the individual is personally responsible for business contracts. Therefore, I believe that the “Go Fund Me” contract would be for the individual and not the unit as the individual contract may not represent Scouting or the unit.
3. The last question that I will discuss is where I really have pause when talking about Crowd funding type campaigns. Directly from the Unit Money Earning Application:” Will the fund-raising 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.”
That last line is an important part of the application to consider. Is the trailer or canoes part of the unit program? If so the unit should replace in kind using other methods of fund raising. A method that actually gives the members of the unit buy in to the process. Scouts should pay their way and support their unit through dues. A crowd funding program does not require the Scout to earn the funds that support his growth in Scouting. There are no real free Crowd funding resources. “Go Fund Me” keeps 7.9% of the funds earned.. that is something to look at when answering this question about soliciting. Like Bell ringing for the Salvation Army, Scouts would be raising money for Go Fund Me and not just Scouting (ie: FOS or Popcorn sales).
Now before I get hate mail from those of you that support Crowd Funding campaigns, please know that I do not have a problem with them. In fact I have supported campaigns in the past. We are talking about Scouting and how the rules govern how we can raise money for our units.
1. Use the application.
2. Follow the rules.
3. Make sure that it supports the Scout and his ability to learn, grow, and achieve the aims of Scouting.
It is terrible that we have to have the discussion when it comes to theft. That is another story and one that I do not have solutions for. Crowd funding however is a method of getting money with nothing in return. I do not see where the Scout truly benefits as a person when he, through the unit, is just given money.
As much as a child earns an allowance, the Scout needs to earn his share of unit program.
Let me know what you think about this subject. I know that it can be a touchy one.
Leave a comment and discuss where you are in Crowd funding.
Also grab a copy of the Unit Money Earning Application here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!