I would not require to pay up front for show and sell. I’m not sure how your council is set up, but most show and sell and wagon sales do not require you to pay for the popcorn up front. You order it, and whatever isn’t sold you should be able to give back. There’s two parts to popcorn selling for most councils. First you place your order for ‘show and sell’, this money shouldn’t be due until later. Second, you place your order for catalog sales. The money for both should be due at the same time. You can ither use the left over popcorn from the show and sell to fullfill orders or you should be able to give it back at no risk to you. If your council is not doing this with Trails End or Camp Master’s, they should and you should certainly advocate for this. They get a significant portion of sales, and should ensure pack’s are losing money or putting parents out for the sales.
Show and Sell actually makes a lot of money, sometimes even more than the catalog sales. Our council will buy back what isn’t sold, but we typically keep it to give out with the catalog orders or we do a few show and sells. Show and sells are set up at stores, local events and stuff like that.
During these events, you will get a lot of cash donations to. You cant technically ask for a donation persay, per scout rules, but they will offer it and you can definitely take it for the pack. Scout packs can offer a rotation, for kids to come for an hour or so each or they can do an hour or so each den until you cover the whole shift (a min of two ypt leaders should be present).
As for ‘wagon sales’ /door to door should have a payment up front. You can offer credit card sales, by setting up a pay pal or other account. This helps for those who do not have cash on hand, and you are likely to get more sales. You can easily transfer it over to your pack’s checking account to pay your council. I know Camp Master’s has a free credit card system too. I’m not sure about Trails End.
If you set up your online ordering with your pack or scouts. You can create and print out a flyer to offer potential customers who do not have cash, and don’t feel comfortable using the credit card system. The flyer can include a link on it to purchase online popcorn if they wish to purchase later. This gets significantly less sales, some packs have success with it.
Also, push social media for sales as well. Have each scout set up their online sales with the popcorn company and have parents share their links.