One Thing Every Fundraising Project Must Avoid


Scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, I spotted the graphic shown above. It made the rounds on social media a couple of years ago and even earned mentions on the websites of the Today Show and Parenting magazine.

As you can see, the apparently legitimate form gives parents alternative fundraising options at various levels, such as:

  • $15: “I do not want to bake, so here is the money I would have spent on those cupcakes.”
  • $50: “I do not want to walk, swim or run in any activity that has the word ‘thon’ in it. Here is the money I would have spent on my child’s ‘free’ t-shirt.”
  • $100: “I really wouldn’t have helped anyway, so here is $100 to forget my name.” (My favorite!)

The point of the form, of course, is that many parents are tired of endless school fundraisers where most of the funds come directly from their pockets or from the pockets of friends, family, and co-workers. They’re also smart enough to know it’s better to make a $10 donation than to spend $20 on a fundraising item that nets the PTA $10 or less.

Good troop fundraising projects don’t work like that. While parents may be customers, they shouldn’t comprise the bulk of the customer base. Instead, most of the money should come from people outside the troop family, including members of the chartered organization and the general public. And those customers should receive a decent value for their money. As the BSA’s Guide to Unit Money-earning Projects says, “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.”

If your fundraisers are robbing Peter to pay Paul’s camp fees, it’s time to rethink how you earn money. Otherwise, your troop families might start using that PTA’s alternate fundraising form–or stop supporting your fundraisers at all.

Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at


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