Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.
Since you need to be able/willing to pay with a credit card to use the online application, I am looking for options for families that are paying with cash, check, or on “scholarship”. Does a parent need to complete the online application, or can they submit a paper application and the unit enters it online to be processed? If the the paper application has to be submitted to council, is there an fillable PDF version? We’ve had a number of scouts get entered with errors by council over the last few years. If I can avoid transcription errors due to poor handwriting, that would be great.
Looking for the best method to get these families into scouting.
Thank you both for the answers. BSA really needs to a) have a form that can be filled out electronically, b) allow an application to be submitted without payment, but not approved until payment is provided allowing the unit to pay to fees, or c) allow a third party from the unit to enter the application. Though most of the country has access to credit cards, but there are a multitude of reasons why might not be using it.
Since my Pack does not use the online application system, we often send this to parents rather than give them printed copies. The parents then print out Page 3 and return that to our Unit Leader to be signed and then brought to our Council Office.
In my Boy Scout Troop, we do take the online applications as well as the paper forms. For those using paper forms our Treasurer uses our bank’s mobile banking app to digitally deposit any checks we receive. For cash payments, a receipt is given and the Treasurer later makes a deposit at the bank.
The initially implementation of online apps allowed for a cash or check option. That effectively allowed me to email my DE and ask them to take it from our UDA. But that option was removed, perhaps because too many apps never actually paid and then were cancelled.
I can appreciate that. Perhaps then just allowing the unit to enter it themselves rather than having to send a paper application to council. You would think this would be good because it would make the entire application process paperless from a council perspective.
I spent a year tilting at that windmill with National Capital Area Council. Our pack had a large account built up with our council due to online popcorn sales, so it was very convenient to pay registration fees to the BSA out of that account and have new families pay the pack directly. It allowed us to charge a single set of dues and program fee without confusing anybody.
The council POC explained what an administrative burden it was for them, so I gave up my quest to get things back to where they were.
Now we just deal with the confusion and make it clear to families that they pay some amount online and have to pay the difference (between amount charged and our annual dues/program fee) to the pack.
It shifts the burden to our pack treasurer to get everyone to pay some amount during recharter time, which is the full amount for returning families and a partial amount for new families who just joined online. There are worse problems.
I am also working with NCAC. We have a few scouts that are on “scholarship” where anonymous funding sources will pay for boys to register and cover their dues. I’m just looking into options as to how best to handle it.
We are submitting paper applications and they will take the payment out of the funding we keep on account with them. The fun part is that the applications were submitted a week ago, and they haven’t been processed yet.
For this reason, we exclusively use the online application process (except when not possible). I realize that not every council has that as an option, but I was sick of waiting for apps to make it out of my DE’s back seat.