Providing a year-round, quality Scouting program should be the goal of every Scouting unit. The Ideal Year of Scouting (IYOS) helps you develop an annual program plan, a budget to go along with that plan, and a fundraising plan to reach your program goals. The result is a well-managed, well-financed Scouting unit.
A Scout is thrifty. Learning to manage money is one of the ways the Boy Scouts prepare youth for life. Budgeting and earning money to accomplish goals through an approved council or unit project helps Scouts develop self-reliance and the skills of personal finance management. Unit fundraising designed to make Scouting affordable is a fundamental part of Scouts “earning their way.” Product sale fundraising is an important asset to units and their members to help provide the resources required for Scouting to succeed.
Private benefit rules of the Internal Revenue Service prohibit those involved in nonprofit fundraising from receiving a substantial personal benefit for their efforts. Some practices where dollar for dollar credit is provided for the sole benefit of the person who sold product based upon amount sold could violate the private benefit prohibition. While the BSA has not endorsed “Individual Scout Accounts” for private benefit of individual Scouts who participate in fundraising because of the IRS rules, unit fundraising designed to make Scouting affordable is a fundamental part of Scouts “earning their way”.
If a unit establishes an account for a member based solely on the quantity of items sold, that reward might be a private benefit to the individual. If this benefit is of sufficient size, it may require reporting of this benefit as income to the individual, as well as to call into question the non-profit status of the Council and the Boy Scouts of America. These funds are clearly not for the public good, but directly benefit an individual.
Therefore, we recommend the following:
- Make sure that any sale of materials, instructions, and support information do not make a reference to individual Scouts earning money for their individual participation in Scouting activities. Fundraising for group participation is, however, acceptable.
- Units who wish to continue to offer “youth account” type plans need to develop fund distribution plans that include criteria other than the sale of items. These might include:
- Scout spirit
A portion of the unit proceeds from any sale or activity should be set aside for general unit expenses and could include funds used for assistance to members with financial needs.
Funds raised by the unit from product sales belong to the unit. Funds are not transferable to the Scout or another unit if a Scout leaves the unit, but may be re-assigned to another unit sponsored by the same chartered organization, such as when a Scout moves from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts or Boy Scouts to Venturing. The unit committee is responsible for all expenditures from unit funds for the benefit of the unit. Unit funds may be used to reduce the cost of participation, including the cost of attending camp or obtaining uniforms. They may be used to provide financial assistance or awards to individual Scouts based upon their level of participation generally or in specific activities benefiting the unit, chartered organization or community, attendance, advancement and/or need. Unit funds may be used to buy equipment for the unit or for any other legitimate need of the unit.