Unit Program Planning & Finance

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what keeps Scouts in the program. They like to have fun, do cool and challenging activities, earn merit badges, go places, and learn new things. That is what we call program and it doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes planning and preparation. This all starts with your unit’s annual program planning conference which is a set of meetings, held in May or June, where the unit schedules the key activities and events they want to do for the next year, along with a plan for how they will pay for these activities. What this looks like is slightly different from unit to unit, but the core elements of the plan will be the same. 

Prospective parents want to know the answer to two questions, What are we going to do and how much is it going to cost? Having an annual plan with associated funding plan that can easily be shared with their Scouting families will help them know what they can expect. This means that more families will join your unit and more of them will stay involved. The following items will help guide your unit through this process. 

Annual Unit Program Planning

Successful Units that attract and keep Scouts:

  • Have Leadership that is helpful, friendly, kind, trained, organized, and provide good communication.
  • Have a strong annual program plan that is FUN!
  • Ensure all Scouts and their families feel welcome.
  • Have an easy to explain finance plan that funds the unit expenses AND offers a way for families to subsidize their Scouting journey.
Packs - Annual Program Planning Video

Unit Finance & Funding

Unit Expenses can be broken into 2 Categories: Unit Expenses and Family Expenses.

  • Unit Expenses: Things that the unit typically pays for such as Advancement, Unit Gear, Pinewood Derby Cars, etc. 
  • Family Expenses: Things that the family typically bears the cost of such as Weekend Campouts, Summer Camp, Cub Haunted, etc. 

It is important that your unit’s plan funds BOTH of these items. We highly encourage the use of the Payment Log Function in Scoutbook, also referred to as Scout Accounts. This allows the unit and families to track payments and expenses. Incentives matter, and having the Scouts raise funds to pay for the activities they are involved in can have a very positive impact on the unit operations. There are some examples in the training guide above. Please feel free to reach out to your District Executive with any questions you may have. 

As you build your annual plan, you will need to decide what expenses the unit will cover and what things the families will cover. The next step is ensuring your funding plan will cover both of these groups. Lastly, you will take this information and create an annual budget that outlines the planned revenues and expenses for the year, followed by business-like management of the units’ funds. 

Funding your Unit's Program

Your unit’s funding plan should be simple, easy to explain, and state the expectations of each Scout/ family.

Things to consider: 

  • What does our unit pay for and provide and what are the annual associated costs? 
  • What does our unit expect the Scouts to pay for provide and what are the associated costs? 
  • Do we utilize the Payment Log function in Scoutbook (Scout Accounts) that allows Scouts to track and pay for what they participate in?  
  • How much money does our unit need to do all of our planned adventures? 
  • Some families don’t like to fundraise and would rather write a check, some would prefer to fundraise, some would like something in between those to. Consider a plan that gives families options. For example, a unit might consider charging dues for any Scout that does not participate in the unit’s fundraiser and achieve a pre-determined minimum level. 
Council Approved Fundraisers

Our Council Camp Card Sale (Spring) and Popcorn Sale (Fall) are approved fundraisers and unit participation is expected.

The Popcorn sale is designed to fund the unit’s program, while the camp card sale is designed to help Scouts attend summer camp. These programs are risk free; the unit pays no money up front to participate.

Special approval is required for any fundraisers outside of these two. Unit Money Earning Application

Fund your unit’s program with popcorn!

Help all your Scouts get to Camp!

BSA Guidance on Individual Scout Accounts

Despite what you might’ve heard, the Boy Scouts of America’s rules do allow for individual Scout accounts. But it’s not that simple and the explanation won’t be as black and white as you’d like. Their is a Payment Log function in build into Scoutbook that allows units to track Scout finances.

Bryan on Scouting – BSA Guidance on Individual Scout Accounts.


A budget is a plan for receiving and spending money. The unit budget is made up a year at a time and typically coincides with the units program plan.

In developing your budget, expenses for the year must be estimated and a plan devised for meeting those expenses. To determine what the unit expenses will be for the year, the unit annual program must be analyzed. Past expenses will serve as a guide for judging amounts needed for each budget category – one-time expenses — tents, etc.

In keeping with the principles of Scouting, the program of the unit is paid for by the members with money they earn and save themselves. A unit that operates through the generosity of others and finances itself by the efforts of adults fails in its responsibility to teach its members self-reliance.

Building and supervising the unit budget plan is a major responsibility within every Scouting unit. Although packs, troops, crews, and posts use a different means to determine their own budget needs, each Scouting unit falls within the official BSA fiscal policies and procedures for BSA units.

Additional information concerning unit budgets, the treasurer’s job, camper savings plans, forms, and records can be found in:

Unit Checking Accounts

Every unit will eventually need to have a checking account. Sometimes this gets confusing for the newly organized unit because banks demand a federal tax number to open an account. Do not use your social security number for this purpose because all financial transactions are attributed to the individual unit leader providing their social security number. This obviously could pose problems! Here are two approaches. We will start with the fastest method “Plan A.”

Plan A
Due to the charter agreement and tax laws, Units are “subordinate” to the chartered partner. Some chartered partners are willing to allow units to use their tax number so their unit will be able to obtain a checking account. This is perfectly legal, but some chartered partners have concerns. If the chartered partner does not feel they can help you in this fashion, don’t worry. (Note: in the past decade there have been one or two exceptions to this). Go to Plan B. If your chartered partner is a business, public school or PTO go straight to plan B without presenting the Plan A concept.

Plan B
Apply for (Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is the best plan to follow when faced with the need for a checking account (the bank needs a federal tax number and your chartered partner doesn’t feel they can help you accomplish the task). Important. Remember that the tax-exempt status of your unit is consistent with the tax status of the chartered organization. Units chartered by our Council are tax exempt. The employer identification number does not provide tax-exempt status. It only provides identification. 

After applying, you will receive a letter from the IRS that includes your organization name and address, and your EIN. You also may receive other forms, such as Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption, under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Units should not use Form 1023 to apply for recognition of exemption. Among other reasons, this is due to the normally prohibitive cost, and the requirements for units to provide articles of incorporation or articles of organization with the application, annual Form 990 filings, minutes of meetings and annual audits, many other compliance items and penalties for non-compliance.

Once equipped with your EIN you are well on your way to getting a checking account established, but the bank will want some additional documents like minutes from your committee meeting showing who was voted to accept the role of treasurer and who has signatory authority.  Other items include a copy of your charter and an official print out of adults. The EIN, charter, minutes and roster are the items most frequently presented to the person establishing new accounts.

Banks offer commercial accounts and individual accounts. Your unit account would not be personal; therefore, it falls under a commercial classification. The bank employee working in setting up your account is probably accustomed to commercial accounts, but may not have dealt with Scouting unit accounts.  This is why they often will request articles of incorporation, bylaws, officers, DBA and a host of other paperwork that you do not have. Don’t worry. Explain that this is a unit account for Scouts and most banks accept those items discussed in the first paragraph of this segment. 

State Sales Tax Exemption

In order to make a sales tax exempt purchase for your unit, use the State Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption

Unit Accounts (Scout Shops & Council Offices)

Unit accounts allow convenient checkless transactions at area Scout Shops and our Council offices. Unit account funds can be applied to recharters, membership, activity, event and camping fees, advancement, uniforms, literature and other supplies. Funds can added to the accounts through the mail by a check sent to the council office or by phone using a credit card.

Eagle Scout Service Project Applications

The Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application (page 23 of the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook) must be used by Scouts to obtain approval for Eagle Scout project fundraising or securing donations of materials for their Eagle projects. This is necessary in all circumstances except when all contributions are from the candidate, parents or relatives of the Scout, unit or chartering organization, parents or other members of the unit, or the beneficiary of the project. Scouts should submit the fillable form to the Council for consideration. The Scout should also print a copy and include it with the project plan. Within a few business days, the Scout will receive an email response either seeking additional information or providing project funding approval. When approved, a copy of the approval email is to be included with the fundraising application as a part of the Scout’s project plan.

  • Submit fundraising applications via email:
  • Project must be approved in advance: Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Form
  • Project must be done in the name of the beneficiary (not the troop).
  • Beneficiary organization retains leftover funds.
  • If the troop is holding project funds, these funds must be turned over to the project beneficiary immediately after expenses have been paid.
  • Gift documentation must come from the project beneficiary
  • Realize that approaches to big box stores will be met with a request for a tax letter, which you may or may not be able to secure from your project beneficiary.
  • Parents should let their Scout provide leadership and resist the temptation of raising funds or using their influence.
  • A Scout is courteous – and should follow up with a note of thanks
  • BSA’s Guide to Advancement