5 Ways to Support Scouts in Need

Scouting attracts families from all backgrounds and situations. When a family is struggling financially scouting can be an extra stress on the family and the scout or family may or may not ask for financial assistance. Regardless of a request, here are five ways the troop can help the scout.

Teach the scout to run personal fundraisers

Fundraising opportunities are all around us, folks just do not look for them. A simple Google search for "individual fundraiser ideas" brings back a ton of results. With a little effort your scout can be receiving donations for themselves, separate from any troop fundraiser. 

Here are some personal fundraising ideas:
  • Collect aluminum and take it to a recycling center that pays by the pound
  • Send letters to friends and relatives asking for a donation (Google can point you to a lot of great tips for this sort of letter)
  • Invite the neighbors to dinner in return for a donation
  • Bake cookies and give them to neighbors for a donation
  • Run a corner lemonade stand for a donation, don't forget to make large, readable signs
Note that while fundraising as an individual Scouts cannot wear the scout uniform since they are not fundraising for the Boy Scouts of America.

Teach scouts how to make money

This is the "go get a job" item on the list. There are countless ways a young man, even an 11 year old, can earn money around the neighborhood or in their communities. With a little effort the scout will see the results of their work and know exactly what it will take to get to their goal. This is very different from fundraising... this is income.

Some ideas for younger scouts:
  • Mow lawns and complete yard work
  • Have a garage sale
  • Sell unused stuff on EBay
  • Be a TaskRabbit
  • Do other people's (and neighbor's) chores
  • Sell something like first aid kits, fire extinguishers, CO2 detectors, or the like
Note that while working as an individual Scouts cannot wear the scout uniform since they are not acting on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America.

Provide for some activities in the troop budget

I know a troop that provides for one significant activity each month that is free for all scouts and registered adults that want to attend. They make this happen by fundraising or by dues that support the troop general fund and then adding a line item to the annual budget. The line item covers all participation fees, food, equipment rentals, and transportation. This method lets everyone in the troop participate in one monthly activity without needing to pay.

This is a great way to support the troop community through the normal course of business.

Operate a clothing and gear bank

Scouts grow, a lot. They also go through gear, fast. The side-effect is that families must find uniforms, clothing, equipment, and personal gear several times throughout a scouts career. A great way to reuse the stuff already in the troop community is to operate a clothing and gear bank. This is really, really, simple.

Here is what you need:
  • An adult to operate the bank
  • Scouts to staff the bank while it is "open"
  • A place to store the items in the bank
  • A pen and paper system to track inventory (this isn't really necessary)
Here is how it works:
  • Scouts and families with clothing and equipment are encouraged to donate it to the troop when the scout is too big or leaves scouting
  • Donations are considered and either accepted or rejected by the adult in charge
  • Scouts that are in need of new clothing or gear come to the bank when it is open and can take what they need
  • There is no need to track "deposits" or "withdrawals"
If you want to be able to provide a tax-deductible receipt for donations, work with the chartered organization representative to determine if they will accept items that are donated to the troop and, if so, how they want records to be kept. This will add paperwork, though also provide a benefit to donors.

Directly support a scout in need

As a troop, some budget can be set aside to support scouts in need. This method of supporting scouts has a variety of benefits and considerations. The primary benefit is that the community is supporting its members. Some of the considerations are:
  • What policy will be used by the committee to determine need
  • What amounts and terms of sponsorship will be followed
  • How will the privacy of the family be maintained if they ask for privacy
  • Does the full committee discuss the situation or does a sub-committee handle these requests (think about privacy considerations and logistics)
  • How are the policy and expectations communicated to the troop community

Wrap Up

Enough cannot be said about involving scouts in budgeting and figuring out how much troop fundraising should go to scouts in need is an excellent topic for discussion as part of that process.

Notice that the personal fundraising and get-to-work items both will require support from the parents as the Scout works to pay their own way. Notice I didn't say that the parent will need to help... Scouting is about the Scout so make sure to take the opportunity to teach the scout how to get results. Parents working harder for a fully capable young man is not what this is about.

Regardless of how your troop or organization decides to support scouting families that need financial assistance, be aware of the human part of the situation. When money is tight it can be very stressful on adults. It can also be very hard to ask for help.


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