Unit finance requires a bit more than keeping track of dues. For additional assistance please contact your district executive or email@example.com.
Funding Your Unit | Unit Money-Earning Application | Checking Accounts | Eagle Scout Projects | State Sales Tax | Tax ID Numbers | Unit Accounts | Resources | Frequently Asked Questions | Contact
Business-like management of unit funds not only assures good fiscal responsibility and meeting the youth program needs, but it also provides a fine example for your youth members. A unit budget is made up a year at a time, usually for the year covered by the unit charter -- though it may be based on a calendar or program year.
A good unit should neither run on the brink of insolvency nor accumulate surpluses. It should neither spend more than it earns nor earns more that it spends. As much harm can be done with one extreme as with the other. Therefore, unit finances must be budgeted.
BSA Fiscal Policies and Procedures for Units
A budget is a plan for receiving and spending money. A unit budget is made up a year at a time, usually for the year covered by the unit charter -- though it may be based on a calendar or program year.
In developing the 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:
- Packs: Cub Scout Leader Book, Pack Record Book
- Troops: Troop Record Book, Troop Leader Fundraising, Troop Budget, Scoutmaster Handbook, Troop Committee Guide Book
- Crews: Venturing Leader Handbook
- Posts: Explorer Leader Handbook
Funding a Unit
Popcorn sales provide great opportunities for money-earning projects. These projects provide no-risk opportunities for the unit and are pre-approved by the council (a Unit Money-Earning Application application is not required). Units should participate in popcorn sales.
If additional funds are needed after participating in popcorn sales and coupon book sales, a unit must submit a Unit Money-Earning Application before conducting any fundraiser.
BSA Product Sales Guide BSA Fundraising Policy and Procedures Manual
Unit Money-Earning Applications
Money-earning projects should be designed as a means to supplement, not replace, the budget plan or dues system. A unit must submit a Unit Money-Earning Application at least two weeks prior to committing to any fundraiser. Whenever the unit is planning a money-earning project, refer to the BSA's "Guide to Unit Money Earning Projects." Understanding money earning guidelines will help in the selection of projects. Money earning projects help Scouts learn to pay their way. All fundraising projects (except SHAC popcorn sales) must be approved by submitting one of the following applications:
Checking Account Instructions
Unit funds should be deposited in a checking or savings account that requires two signatures on every check or withdrawal. The unit leader could be one of the signees but it is recommended it be a committee person.
Checking Account Instructions
Tax ID Number
Banks require an EIN number to open a checking account. Use an IRS SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number to get an EIN. Note: The EIN can only be used for checking account identification purposes). See Checking Account Instructions above for FAST filing instructions.
The Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application (page 17 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 two 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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
- Guide to Advancement (www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf)
State Sales Tax
Information on state sales tax issues is available here and the state of Texas site. In order to make a sales tax exempt purchase for your unit, use the State Sales Tax Exemption Certification. Realize some large stores (e.g., Sam's, Wal-Mart) might require a tax letter from the State Comptroller.
Unit Accounts (for Scout Shops and council)
Unit accounts allow convenient checkless transactions at area Scout Shops and the council office. Unit account funds can be applied to recharters, membership, activity, event and camping fees, advancement, uniforms, literature and other supplies.
Accounts may be set up using signature cards at the registration counter with a minimum deposit of $25. Signature cards authorize up to three people and the committee chairman to use the account. Scout Shops and the council’s registration counter both have signature cards available.
Any of the area Scout Shops or the council office can receive funds on your account. Funds can be sent through the mail by a check sent to the council office or by phone using a credit card. Please call (713) 756-3324 for additional information.
Healthy unit finances go a long way to help make for a healthy program. These resources should prove helpful:
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there a recommended process for budget building?
Yes, make a list of expenses and assign a cost to each item. Use last year’s expenses (e.g,. awards, advancement, recognition, trips, entry fees, registration fees, Scout Life magazine, insurance, handbooks, neckerchiefs, unit numerals, financial assistance, training fees for youth and adults, program materials, equipment replacement) itemize all costs and add the total. It is often helpful to view expenses in terms of cost per youth member.
With a good idea of expenses facing you, begin to strategize on how your unit will meet costs through dues and money-earning opportunities. The Sam Houston Area Council offers a fundraiser annually with popcorn sales.
Additional Considerations: Maintain dues at a level so each youth member can learn to pay their way without dues posing a hardship. Adding registration fees to the budget helps make the rechartering process much easier. Keep a reserve fund of 15-30% of your annual budget for emergencies.
- Can a unit (pack, troop, crew, ship) solicit funds?
- Soliciting funds from within the unit is acceptable, but no other solicitation is allowed.
- What projects does the Sam Houston Area Council offer for unit money earning?
The council offers a popcorn fundraiser annually to help units to raise necessary funds.
Popcorn sales in the fall.
- Units earn up to 35% sales commissions
- Scouts earn prizes and recognition
- No need to file a Unit Money-Earning Application
- Uniforms can be worn by participants
- Quality products, excellent value and repeat sales
- No unit risk – order what you sell
- No Sales Tax consequences
- Can a unit elect to earn money in ways other than by selling popcorn?
- Yes. Units can apply to raise funds using a Unit Money-Earning Application form.
- How quickly will the online Unit Money-Earning applications be approved?
- Usually within two business days.
- Why is this Unit Money-Earning Application important?
It is national policy, but here are some of the reasons why the policy is in place:
• Call referral of potential customers
• Problem solving
• Health & Safety
• Guide units in making good decisions
• Save units from possible heartache
• Ensure that units are not binding the Boy Scouts of America or the Sam Houston Area Council in contractual agreements
- Which units must complete a Unit Money-Earning Application form?
- Any unit engaging in non-council money-earning efforts with the sale of goods or services must file.
- Does the Sam Houston Area Council offer financial assistance for summer resident camp?
- Camperships enable Scouts to have a summer camp experience who, because of financial needs, could not otherwise attend. Limited financial assistance is available on an individual basis for those Boy Scouts who cannot attend Summer Camp without this help.
Units should submit individual applications to program services on or before April 15. Campership funds are administered by the Council Camping Committee. Scouts should be responsible for earning at least a portion of the camp fee. The maximum funding from camping assistance (campership) is one half the total of the camp fee.
Note: Council camperships are for Sam Houston Area Council camps only.
- Does a unit have to pay state sales tax on purchases made solely for the use of our unit?
- Most purchases made exclusively for unit usage can be claimed to be exempt from state sales tax. Use the 01-339, Texas Sales and Use Tax Resale Certificate / Exemption Certification. This works for most merchants but not all. For example, to use this form at a Sam’s Club a membership must be set up for the unit. If you find retailers demanding something more than the Tax Exemption Certification, use the tax letter for troops.
- Does a unit have to collect and pay sales tax related to product sales?
- The state of Texas allows two 24-hour sales periods exempt from sales tax. The 24-hour sales periods would be considered to be popcorn sales. The unit would probably have to report and pay sales tax on any other sales during the year. This should be referred to the state of Texas for confirmation.
- Is our unit a charitable organization?
- No. Chartered partners are often charitable, but units are not automatically subordinated to share the same status.
- What is the IRS Form 990-N, and does our unit need to file annually with the IRS the electronic postcard 990-N?
- In 2008, the IRS introduced a new, abbreviated filing for small tax-exempt organizations with annual gross receipt of less than $25,000 (this amount was later raised to $50,000): Form 990-N. The BSA national office consulted with the IRS and outside counsel, as to whether this new filing requirement applies to Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, and other units. In their opinion, most Scout units do not have to file the new Form 990-N. For most units, no filing is required. The only exception is for the very small number of units that have filed for separate, federal tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Those units must file either Form 990-N (if their annual gross receipts were less than $50,000) or the more detailed Form 990 or 990EZ (if annual gross receipts were $50,000 or more).
- Can a unit be covered under the BSA's group exemption?
- No. The IRS only allows local councils (and council trust funds) to be included under the BSA group exemption. Units cannot be included under the BSA group exemption because they belong to their chartered organization.
- Is it all right if our unit solicits companies, foundations or individuals?
- No. Read through Unit Money Earning Guidelines. There is no provision for this kind of solicitation.
- How long does a unit need to retain financial records?
- Most transactions are online these days so retaining a hard copy of records is not absolutely necessary. However, a good rule of thumb to go by for the person in charge of finances, is to keep hard copy records for the time they are in that position - handing over the hard copy to the next person handling the records. Where possible, it is best to retain 2-3 years’ worth of hard copy records. You definitely will want to keep important documents involving any change in account signers or any other big or unusual activity. Banks keep records for seven years. Should units need anything that far back, you can usually find the information at the bank.
- How can Eagle Scouts raise money to fund their project?
- Eagle Scout projects cannot be a fundraiser, but Eagle Scout candidates fundraise or earn money in order to secure materials to be used for a project. Eagle Scout candidates should work with the organization for which they are rendering service and ask what funds are available for the project. If candidates opt to solicit they will need to use the tax id number from the organization they perform service for. Eagle Scout Projects fundraising applications should be completed in the PDF form and emailed to email@example.com.
- Should a unit consider insuring unit equipment?
- Yes, it is suggested your unit insure its equipment. Remember, the chartered organization owns the unit, and all funds used by the unit remain the responsibility of the chartered organization as long as the charter issued by the BSA remains in place. It is recommended that an inventory be given annually to the chartered partner of the unit's equipment.
- What happens to unit funds and equipment should the unit dissolve?
- In the event of the dissolution of a unit, or the revocation or lapse of its charter, the unit committee shall apply unit funds and property to the payment of unit obligations and shall turn over the surplus, if any, to the local council. In the case of a chartered organization, any funds or equipment which may have been secured as property of the unit shall be held in trust by the chartering organization or the council, as may be agreed upon, pending reorganization of the unit or for the promotion of the program of the Boy Scouts of America.
- How do I open a unit checking account?
- Every unit will eventually need to have a checking account. Sometimes this gets confusing for units because banks demand a federal tax number (EIN). Banks also will often ask for other things like articles of incorporation, tax letter, bylaws, etc. This does not apply to you, but bank employees may not be aware. Use the contact information below to secure necessary validation (unit roster, charter, minutes from the last committee meeting, etc.) to open the account.
Note: Do not use your social security number for checking account identification because all financial transactions are attributed to the individual providing a social security number. This could pose problems!
- Can we use our EIN for purposes other than checking account identification?
- Can a unit assign a portion of sales (popcorn for example) for exclusive use by a youth member? These are often referred to as Unit Scout accounts
Make sure that any sale of materials, instructions, and support information do not make reference to individual Scouts earning money for their individual participation in Scouting activities.
See National Memo
See National FAQ