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Mandatory popcorn sales for troops?

From the new Chartered Organization Agreement

The Charter Organization agrees to:

Actively participate in the local council’s annual giving campaign and product sales to ensure quality Scouting throughout the community. (ex. Friends of Scouting campaign, popcorn, camp card, etc.)

I can’t read this any way other than Troops will be required to “actively participate” in popcorn sales?

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@WilliamsburgScouter - I do not read required in that at all… it says actively participate. There are many units that I know of in my own area that have never participated in the council fundraising program. Now I can also state that based on the particular inclinations of my council that I will never ever as long as I am alive contribute to the corporate match in my council. Far too many offensive statements against me that they can find some other source.


Ok, but how do you “Actively participate in the local council’s…product sales” and not read that as that you are REQUIRED to “actively participate” in sales?

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Maybe. Maybe not. Define “actively participate”. Weasel words like that are how lawyers get rich.


I work on the etc… tell me exactly what you are going to do to justify your income then I will help you. I will honestly tell you that I have yet to find any real reason why these folks are taking up valuable breathable air but that is me. :slight_smile:


Write them a check and tell them that’s your active participation. If they don’t like it, tear up the check and sell a box of microwave popcorn…

Passing out popcorn sales flyers to the Troop and tell them how the program works is active participation.

Allowing a FOS Council Rep to address your Troop so they can hit the unit up for contributions is active participation.

Passing out Camp Cards and telling the Troop what to do is actively participating.

The mandate doesn’t establish minimal quotas nor does it suggest such a quota is required.

As for popcorn. I’m sick of trying to sell the product. Over Thanksgiving, we picked up one of those huge tins of Wal-Mart popcorn with three flavors (White Cheddar, Caramel, and buttered) for 5.00. If that would have been BSA Popcorn that can would have been over 20 bucks for popcorn

The Girls Scouts have it down. Sure, the cookies are over priced but at 6-7bucks a unit for a tasty treat, I could drop 20-30 bucks easily on a cash and carry impulse item that I could pass around to friends and family.

Actively participating is not the same as requiring a monetary minimum.


@WilliamC - yes indeed those are the qualifiers to “actively” which on it’s own is a nebulous term. As I stated after many years of corporate FOS contribution I have decided that since my council and its folks are only interested in who gates the silver or bronze animal and not about actually helping units… the donations are done.

Yeah, the cookies are still at an impulse purchase point. The BSA popcorn is not, and the constant push from Trails End and the “super sellers” is to get rid of as many lower-priced options as possible. I have a big ethical issue with asking people to pay $60 for a $10 tin of popcorn. Remember, the BSA requirement says:

  • The price of the product, advertising, or service should reflect its fair market value
  • If a commercial product is to be sold, will it be sold on its own merits and without
    reference to the needs of Scouting.

I believe you are comparing apples and oranges.

Walmart selling a tin for $5 on sale and Trails End setting a price at $19.55 + 65.45 as a donation for scouting are not the same (Chocolate Lovers Tin $85 w/ 73% to scouting). $20 for a tin of chocolate covered stuff is not out of line. Folks are willing to do this because they know the extra is for scouting. From the Trails End website, popcorn purchases are tax deductible for the amount above what a similar item would cost you at your grocery store. Most folks don’t care about this.

The lowest priced item, caramel corn, is $10 total, $2.70 for the popcorn plus $7.30 for scouting. The price point is still within the impulse buying range for most folks. (I found a similar item online for $3.19, not counting shipping.)

In our council, 30-35% of the popcorn sales go to the local unit and 38-43% (less expenses) to our council. Cookie purchases are not tax deductible.

From the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, net revenue of 65-75% of cookie sales go to scouting; the math is 10-20% goes to the unit and somewhere around 55% to the local council.

Girl Scout cookies were priced at $5 and $6 for 2020. A scout would have to sell 2x (or more) as many cookie boxes as popcorn items to net the same amount to scouting.

The sales method seems to be quite different. Cookies are sold at booth sales. I do not like booth sales for popcorn - it’s too variable. I prefer door-to-door take orders or, in other years, wagon sales w/ stock. A scout learns different skills with each method. I like my grandkids learning to talk to neighbors they don’t know in a safe situation about a subject they do know.

Some folks don’t buy popcorn. And some folks don’t buy cookies. In my experience, about 50% of folks that are asked at their door buy popcorn.

And this whole reply is off topic, sorry to the original poster.

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I think there are a few things that need to be understood about popcorn. It is a very difficult sell in a lot of places and it’s going to get harder. For starters, in certain states children are not allowed to sell door to door. There are also so many food issues now and most of the TE products contain milk, soy, wheat, dyes, nuts, etc., or were produced in a facility where those ingredients are present. People with a food issue don’t even want it in the house. The free popcorn with your donation angle has never been very effective and it is getting harder because Millennials and younger don’t want to endorse products that are not organic, have artificial ingredients, come wrapped in plastic, etc. Scouting seems oblivious to many of these issues. Fundraising in general has gotten more difficult no matter what the organization. Whether it is PTA or Little League or Scouting, you really have to have something that people want or need. We can’t compare popcorn to Girl Scout cookies because that product is an outlier. BSA needs to come up with a menu of fundraising options, particularly non food ones, that reflect current trends and is in line with scouting values. If you look at the marketplace, regional and increasingly individual preferences need to be met to be successful. Selling an overpriced product that has nothing to do with “be prepared” or any other tenet of scouting is also not scout like.

Edit: Also, scouting’s reputation has really suffered. A fundraising effort, where you put scouts in front of the public, is also a public relations opportunity. What we are selling ought to burnish our reputation. Flashlights, emergency gear, things that would help keep people prepared and safe. Flag sales to remind the community of the service and patriotism that scouting endorses.


You also have to remember the girl scouts own those cookies. They own the copyrights to those names and probably the recipes. They are only paying a bakery to make them. The BSA is actually selling an item for a company so they can make a profit and then an extra markup for a donation to scouting. The BSA should’ve learned from them years ago and created a product that is synonymous with the BSA. They’re is nothing unique about the popcorn we sell.


You would think so right? GS Cookies are under a similar arrangement to popcorn. National “only” gets a licensing fee. And there is good reason for both organizations setting it up this way - it hides what the national organization makes from all eyes.

As we enter my 7th year as a “Troop Cookie Manager” let me assure everyone that the oh so green grass on the other side of the fence is green because it grows over the septic system.

In my council base rate is 67 cents per box of cookies (selling for either $5 or $6). Troops that are old enough can opt out of most rewards for an additional 10 cents. They can get an additional 5 cents per box if averaging more than 250 boxes per girl. Then there is an additional 2 cents per box for selling enough “fall product.” (Fall product is much like your typical PTA sales and at the same time.)

Every year the tables are tipped to please the “super sellers” more than the year before. And make no mistake the competition is very cut throat. When the opening of booth sale signups occur the site will crash about 5 minutes before with the early attempts to reserve a spot. They used to have this at 9:00 in the evening but have moved the crash to 1:00 PM on a weekday.

Oh - the site also crashes in the initial window to get pickup times (also open at 1:00). By the time the workday is done they will have filled the Friday slots and be well on their way for Saturday slots.

I think both programs are great for the youth. I also think both programs let ethics slide when it comes to getting money.

Oh I understand that cookie sales are a mess. I had two daughters try girl scouts for a year and they did good at selling cookies but it seemed like that’s all the troop cared about. They hated it and begged me and my old cub master to get our pack coed because they were jealous of their little brother. I was just saying that GS doesn’t have a middle company driving up to crazy prices. Our pack finally got tired of trails end and found a local lady that makes kettle corn and pork rinds for 8 dollars a bag and we keep 4.

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I noticed this line in the recharter agreement as well. My take is that the charter org should participate in some way. If your council sells popcorn, beef jerky, discount cards, maple syrup, whatever, then the charter org should be on the hook for providing something. For example, my charter org is a church, ideally they should encourage other parishioners to purchase products from the scout pack/troop and/or help with the effort.

As for popcorn, I feel your pain. I have actively encouraged our council to diversify fundraising opportunities. This has resulted in our council selling real maple syrup and pancake mix, as well as a successful hikeathon.

It’s going to be interesting. We have never submitted any of our fundraisers to council for approval we’ve just done them. However, we have always done well on FOS thanks mainly to a couple of moneybags former scouters who continue to give so I think they leave us alone.

Our chartering organization does not help us fundraise, they expect us to help fundraise for them through service. We give them money every year. That aspect is also going to be interesting for some.

Are you prepared to use the same 6 paragraph sales pitch you just used on me to justify the difference in GSA Cookies and BSA Popcorn to the average consumer? I understand the minutia of popcorn sales. The average consumer walks up to a table of cute Girls selling a tasty treat that they can cash and carry for under 10.00 with as much and they want on the spot vs on grossly overpriced item that they have to wait a few months to get.

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No. The sales pitch is three sentences.

“Hi, my name is xx (grandkid). This is my sibling xx (yes, I take two at a time). Would you support us in Cub Scouts by buying some popcorn?”

I realize this pitch is not the recommended speal. It works for us.

Last year we had product with us in a wagon, so as to be able to deliver immediately. This year we did take orders; still in the process of delivering product (a mild case of Covid has slowed us down).

A few prospective customers have made a comment about the price; the scouts point out the least expensive item is the $10 Caramel Corn and one of us mentions that 73% is a donation to scouting. And I don’t remember being asked about Girl Scout cookies.

We opted out of face-to-face popcorn sales this year due to the coronapocalypse. In 2019, though, pretty much every person that talked to our Scouts at storefront sales commented on how ridiculously high the prices were, and probably half of them asked when we were gonna be selling the cookies. I had a bunch of people that decided it was OK to complain to 12- and 13-year olds about BSA policies and politics.

And the “3/4ths of the cost goes directly to local Scouts” doesn’t impress people when you’re asking them to pony up $85 for a 21-oz gift tin…


Folks don’t seem to bother with negative discussions when doing door to door sales. They just say no thanks.

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