A higher dues cost without doing fundraising can easily be the most affordable option for more families to be in Scouts.
One fundamental of the program is you shouldn’t raise more money for a unit than is required under your pack budget. Any excess on hand would go to reduce the money needed for a future year.
Another fundamental is helping youth pay their own way in the program is a centerpiece of fundraising, not making their efforts go to the unit budget.
“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.”
It’s also very clear fundraising money must be used only for qualified, reasonable Scouting expenses by that individual. ex. you shouldn’t raise $150 if you only need $100 for your personal costs.
So what does this mean practically? Instead of doing fundraising to cover unit costs you provide fundraising only to help individuals pay their own way.
Dues fund the budget, not fundraising. You then make it not mandatory to participate in any fundraising provided across the year.
And that’s where you get into the psychology of marketing.
Covering the dues through fundraising as a pooled effort the options become
- don’t sell
If dues are required and fundraising isn’t the options becomes
- pay dues without fundraising
- pay dues through the proceeds of fundraising
- pay a portion with fundraising and a portion without
Do you see the difference in the options?
The first choice means only people who choose option 1 are paying unit costs. That’s fine in a super large unit with a lot of Scouts. The cost per Scout can be a lot smaller in a large unit through economy of scale.
The second choice everyone is picking an option where they pay. They’re given the choice of how to do it. In no way did you say a family can’t pay their way with fundraising, but they don’t have to. And because everyone is required to pay their own way like the program wants, families gain all the benefit from their efforts.
You didn’t tell the second family they must sell $150 worth of popcorn. What if they can only sell $40 worth? You don’t pressure them to sell, you tell them to pay dues.
Do you know why this is? it’s the social debt. It’s the same reason you go to a birthday party of a kid who comes to your kid’s and you both bring a gift. Forcing them to sell a $20 popcorn item to 8 families, they incur social debt around fundraising. Now those families will come to them with their own fundraising program.
Forcing fundraising can dramatically increase the cost to that family despite fundraising being around reducing cost. It’s really only the middle class that can ignore the social debt. The poorer you are the more you need to regain that value back.
At the same time a family that sells $300 worth of popcorn gets all the benefit of the extra work under the pay your own way model. Because it’s fundraising money if they quit the pack keeps the excess of course. The key point is they’re not losing out because a family didn’t pay dues and their money fills a hole in the budget.
You might think, what if someone quits without paying? You shrink the budget. You’re not buying badges for that Scout ($30-40 per) so there’s a place you naturally cut it. You throw in a few costs you won’t do if too many people quit. We changed charter orgs two years ago, I keep delaying getting a new pack flag. We need a new pack flag, we just don’t buy it. Yet.
So back to the $100.
Why do you charge dues at an amount starting at $100? Because pack supplies that benefit all families should be in the pack budget. You should be buying $30-40 worth of badges/pins/loops per Scout. You should be buying $30-40 worth of activity supplies each year. So that leaves you $20-40 per for purchases you need across many years like awnings, coolers, and the like.
Never have families buy what they need for activities. If you’re with a nonprofit use your connected tax exempt status and buy in bulk for less. You can setup a tax exempt Amazon account easily, Walmart you go to the customer service desk with the letter and get a card you can use. Families spend less because you’re buying for them at a lower cost.
And they never need to remember to bring activity supplies with them. Convenience beats cost. You increase attendance since they only need themselves and their book to participate.
That’s how you can increase your dues, do less fundraising and have more families pay and participate.