Unit Finance

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.



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 FundraisingTroop Budget, Scoutmaster Handbook, Troop Committee Guide Book
  • Crews: Venturing Leader Handbook
  • Posts: Explorer Leader Handbook

Unit Earning Money

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 Popcorn & Camp Cards) must be approved by submitting one of the following applications:    



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, Boys’ 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 2 excellent projects annually with popcorn sales in the fall and Scout Fair coupon sales in the spring.


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.

Soliciting funds from within the unit is acceptable, but no other solicitation is allowed.

Yes.  Units can apply to raise funds using a Unit Money-Earning Application form.  An online application process will expedite your efforts.

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 Atlanta Area Council in contractual agreements

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 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 Atlanta Area Council camps only.

No. Chartered partners are often charitable, but units are not automatically subordinated to share the same status.

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).

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.

No. Read through Unit Money Earning Guidelines. There is no provision for this kind of solicitation.

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.

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.

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.

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