By Ryan Bertram
Aug 12, 2015

Can LDS Scouting units sell popcorn?

Charles DahlquistWhen Charles Dahlquist was Young Men General President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he issued the following statement in 2005:

While the LDS Church does not endorse any specific fundraiser or product, if conducted in accordance with the LDS Church “Budget Allowance Guidelines,” page 2 (1998), the sale of popcorn would be an appropriate fundraising tool for LDS-sponsored units.

So what does the Budget Allowance Guidelines publication state with respect to fundraising for church-sponsored activities, including Scouting?

  1. Stakes and wards should fund all youth activities (including Scouting) from the budget allowance. The only exceptions are covered in numbers 2, 3, and 5.
  2. If budget allowance funds are insufficient, young men may individually earn their own money for the cost of one annual camp. (The annual camp is the long-term summer camp for the troop, team, or crew and includes day camp for Cub Scouts).
  3. If budget allowance funds are insufficient and young men are unable to individually earn enough for the one annual camp, they may hold group fundraising activities.
  4. Wards should not charge young men dues for weekly or monthly activities.
  5. Young men (Scouts, Varsity, and Venturing) and Cub Scouts may hold group fundraising activities to pay for equipment for the unit if there is not sufficient budget allowance.

We know the sale of popcorn is an appropriate fundraising tool for church-sponsored units, but what are the guidelines for a Scout to earn his annual summer-camp or day-camp fee, or assist with the purchase of equipment? The Budget Allowance Guidelines, page 2, addresses “Fundraising Guidelines for Annual Camps and Equipment.” Fundraising activities should:

  1. Comply with tax and liability guidelines as outlined by the church.
  2. Not sell products or services door to door (see On-line Selling ideas here)
  3. Provide meaningful value or service.
  4. Provide a positive experience and build harmony and unity within the group.
  5. Obtain the bishop’s approval for the activity.

Popcorn SalesIf a unit meets the guidelines as noted and follows the council plan, the experience is beneficial to the Scout and his family. It builds harmony and unity within the group. The sale of popcorn can be a positive experience. In most cases, the budget allowance from the church is not sufficient to pay the entire annual camp fee. Many young men need the opportunity to help earn a portion of the annual camp fee and council-sponsored popcorn sales are a proven successful fundraising tool for Scouting units.

The sale allows the young man and his family to earn his way to camp, helps the unit with equipment purchases, and supports the local council in its efforts to serve units. Participation in the popcorn sale, however, does not replace Friends of Scouting. The LDS Church endorses Friends of Scouting and encourages each ward and stake to participate actively. Families and friends should be provided an opportunity to contribute to the Friends of Scouting campaign and assist in supporting the local council.

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Ryan FeatureAuthor: Ryan Bertram  |  District Director, Utah National Parks Council. If you have questions or are ready to sell popcorn call me at 801.437.6237


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5 thoughts on “Can LDS Scouting units sell popcorn?

  1. AvatarJD

    The updated handbook says otherwise:

    8.15 Funding Scouting
    Leaders should follow the budget allowance
    guidelines in Handbook 2 to fund Scouting (see
    8.13.7, 11.8.7, 13.2.8, 13.2.9, 13.5, and 13.6.8). Ward
    budgets should be used to purchase Scouting
    awards and materials, as determined by local
    leaders. Commercially produced or packaged
    goods or services should not be sold.
    Scouting units may participate in Scouting
    shows, camporees, and other BSA activities that
    involve the sale of tickets by boys or young men,
    as long as all other budget allowance guidelines
    are met.
    The Church supports the BSA’s annual Friends
    of Scouting drive. These funds provide financial
    support for the BSA local council. Stake presidents
    and bishops oversee the drive in their units.

  2. Ryan BertramRyan Bertram

    Good observation. In fact, the prior version of the LDS Handbook stated something similar. What it comes down to is the definition of a “commercial” product. Trail’s End popcorn is not available in stores and is sold exclusively through Scouting units. Is this a “commercial” product? The answer is subjective and left to local interpretation. A handful of units do participate and have successful sales each year. Popcorn is one option to raise funds for Scouting activities and camp throughout the year.

    1. AvatarJD

      While Units shouldn’t be selling Popcorn, the boys can on behalf of themselves. It keeps the Church safe from Fundraising issues and yet the boy has an opportunity to earn funds for Camp.

  3. Ryan BertramRyan Bertram

    Irrespective of the debate on units participating in the popcorn sale, there is no question individual Scouts and families can sell popcorn! They are encouraged to do so!

  4. AvatarMike

    I found this on another website. under the FAQ section.
    The Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States (May 2015) contains the following statement in section 8.15 “Commercially produced or packaged goods or services should not be sold.” Popcorn is considered to be a commercial product and thus the sale of popcorn is not approved as an LDS Scouting unit fundraiser. However, the Church does encourage a young man to pay his own way to camp. Individual young men can sign up to sell popcorn under their BSA local council and sell in their behalf. This option (selling by individual Scouts) is only available to those Scouts whose councils offer this program.


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