When it comes to financing your Eagle Scout Project, it’s hard to know where to begin. Luckily, there are plenty of options available, and this guide is here to help! From holding a rummage sale, fundraising from friends and family, or even recycling used ink cartridges for money, there are many ways to fund an awesome Eagle Scout project idea.
PS. This article is based on the experiences and research of Eagle Scout, Kevin A and Cole 🙂
Personally, my Eagle project involved building a number of signs for a local senior citizen center, which they then used to publicize their location to the community. As you would imagine, this required a lot of materials, and my total cost to cover the project was in the hundreds! However, through carefully planned fundraising efforts, I was also able to cover almost all the costs.
If you’re worried about covering the costs of your own up-and-coming Eagle Scout project, I’d actually recommend finding a service project idea that does not require a lot of funds to complete. The BSA prefers that “Scouts choose projects that can be done at little or no cost.” Check out my other article for a list of 99 Creative Eagle Project Ideas For 2021!
According to the BSA’s Official Guide to Advancement, “Fundraising—especially on a larger scale—has tax, accounting, and other legal implications, in which minors should not be involved.” Additionally, large fundraising efforts must first be approved by your local council before they can take place.
Luckily, there are still some great options for Eagle project fundraising that don’t require council approval. However, if you do decide to hold a large fundraiser, you’ll need to get approval on multiple levels, so make sure the amount that you are fundraising is worth the effort you will be putting into it!
In this article, we’ll first be going over the BSA’s official rules for Eagle Project fundraising. Then, I’ll be sharing with you some awesome tips and methods, that I personally used, to raise enough money to hold an awesome Eagle Project. Enough talk, let’s get into it!
Official BSA Rules For Eagle Project Fundraising (Simplified)
In the list below I’ll be covering the 11 most important points to keep in mind when fundraising for your Eagle project. I’ve collected these rules from Scouting’s Guide to Advancement: Section 188.8.131.52 Fundraising Issues and The Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application packet, which can be found in the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook.
If you’re planning to raise any money for your project and have the time, I’d highly encourage you to read through the full resources I’ve linked above. They’re the official regulations that are put out by the BSA through scouting.org. Also, if you have any questions, you should contact your local council for clarification, as procedures can differ between areas.
Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Rules (Pre-Project)
- Your Eagle Scout Service Project cannot be a fundraiser, alone. In other words, you’re not allowed to solely raise money for an organization or cause, even if that cause is a worthy charity.
- If fundraising involves something being sold or donated, the buyers or donors must be made fully aware that their contributions will be going towards an Eagle Scout Project.
- Any fundraising efforts must be in line with the ideals and principles of Scouts BSA. For example, nothing that involves chance (raffles, gambling, etc).
- If you’re not fundraising from solely your family, troop, or project beneficiary, you must first obtain approval from the project beneficiary and your unit leader. Then, you must submit the fundraising application to our council service center at least two weeks in advance of your fundraising efforts.
- The funds you’re raising must go directly towards your project expenses or to your project beneficiary. You or your unit are not allowed to keep any leftover money that has been fundraised, even after your project is finished.
- The money you raise must be turned over to the project beneficiary or your unit until needed for the project. This is especially important if you are fundraising over the span of months.
- Officially, youth are not normally permitted to solicit funds on behalf of Scouts BSA. However, in many cases, a local council may allow an exception for Eagle Scout Projects. The Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Application, found in the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook Doc (page 17-18), is used to obtain approval when required.
Eagle Scout Service Project Fundraising Rules (Post-Project)
- After your Eagle Project is completed, your unit must give all remaining funds that were raised (for the cause of the project) to the project beneficiary.
- If any donors want a receipt of their contribution, documentation must be provided by the project beneficiary, not through the BSA.
- If any contracts are signed, they must be signed by a responsible adult, without reference to Scouts BSA. The signer will be liable, so they should do their due diligence before signing anything. Such contracts might include things like area regulations, donation confirmations, liability, etc.
- If the beneficiary is not allowed to retain excess funds, supplies, or materials, they should either designate a suitable charity to receive them or allow your unit to retain the funds. Your troop should not try to influence the project beneficiary’s decision.
Council-Based Eagle Project Fundraising Limitations
“Fundraising must be approved by the local council except for contributions from the beneficiary, the candidate, the chartered organization, and the candidate’s parents, guardians, or relatives, as well as the unit or individuals in the unit.”Scouting’s Guide to Advancement: Section 184.108.40.206 Fundraising Issues
If you’re just looking for tips and methods to fundraise, skip ahead to the next section! This section will only be relevant if you’re planning to raise money from individuals outside of your family and troop. Large fundraising initiatives, typically requiring council approval, include things like car washes, ticket sales, or event hosting.
If you’re trying to hold a fundraiser to pay for your Eagle Project, you should start reaching out to your council once your budget is finalized. You’ll likely need to submit an Eagle Scout Project Fundraising Application (Here is an online, fillable PDF if you wish to type out your application. )
For tips on how to budget your Eagle Scout Project, click here (In progress — sign up for the ScoutSmarts Scribe newsletter to be updated when the article goes live)! In this article, you’ll learn the ranges of what an Eagle Scout Project should cost, as well as how to lay out a solid financial plan!
Keep in mind that some fundraising activities may be pre-approved by your council. The Scouting Guide To Advancement states, “Local councils may add further definition to the standards established here or on the application form. For example, they could state that fundraisers such as bake sales and car washes do not require a fundraising application and are, in essence, preapproved.”
I’d recommend you simply call your local council and ask if they have any existing precedents around your fundraising idea. If you need to fill out a Fundraising Application due to council specific requirements, you must submit this application and have it be approved before starting any fundraising efforts.
Before you start filling out the application, consider if you’ll be funding your project from one of the following sources:
- Your parents/relatives
- Your unit
- Your chartered organization
- Parents or members of your unit
- Your project beneficiary
Remember, a council application is only needed if you are receiving funds from a source that is not one of the ones just listed. It will be much easier for you to fundraise from the above sources than to submit a fundraiser application. 🙂
However, if you’re trying to raise a lot of money in a short period of time, a council application maybe your best option. In the sections below, I’ll be going into some other great fundraising methods.
Eagle Project Fundraising Method #1: The Long-Term Approach
This approach is the one I used to fund my own Eagle Scout Project, and it worked out really well! I can credit my Mom for this smart and frugal approach; I definitely owe it to her for helping me stick to this plan.
Cole here — I used this method for my own project as well. Popcorn sales are a lifesaver!
So, the main idea behind the long-term approach is that you set aside a little bit of money every year. By the time you’re starting your Eagle Scout Project, you’ll have saved a huge pool of money to fund your idea with!
You might be thinking “But Kevin, didn’t you just say that you must submit a fundraising application before you are allowed to fundraise? How can I submit an application for a fundraising effort that starts several years before my Eagle Scout Project?” That’s a great question!
As I’ve said previously, some fundraising projects are “pre-approved” and do not require an application. Long-Term fundraising is not always “pre-approved,” but for my council (and most!), it was okay to use this approach without submitting a fundraising application. I encourage you to get in contact with your council to see if they have a similar policy.
There are some pros and cons to this approach (which we’ll get into soon!) but first, here are some ideas to get you thinking about what a long-term approach could look like:
- Collect plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminum cans whenever possible. Turn these bottles into local recycling centers and keep whatever money you receive from recycling for your Eagle Scout Project.
- Go crazy selling boy scout popcorn! The profits you get from selling each year can be saved over time for your project.
- Recycle phones and ink cartridges! You could set up boxes at local community centers and offer to recycle their electronics and cartridges for them. These can be sent to recycling companies for money!
- If you happen to be gifted money, save a portion of it for your Eagle Scout Project. It could be a small amount, like 10% of the total money you receive. It’ll really add up over time!
As you can see, these ideas all revolve around the same concept: set aside a little bit of money, consistently, over a long period of time. The same principle of gradual growth over time can be used to learn skills, strengthen friendships, or even to master the Personal Management merit badge!
Tip: Don’t have too much money saved up but your Eagle project is rapidly approaching? Not to worry. To raise a good deal of money over a shorter period, you can also ask the other families in your troop if they’re willing to let you take in their recyclables! You could even drive to their house to pick the recyclables up, which might also help them out. More on this in the next section!
Here are some of the pros and cons of the long-term style of fundraising:
|Less stress when fundraising because it’s done over a long period of time.||Requires the scout to commit to reaching Eagle Scout early on in their Scouting journey.|
|Promotes good saving habits.||You’ll need to start early or it won’t be as effective.|
|Promotes good work habits (doing a little bit of work at a time over a long time vs. last-minute working).||It requires significant discipline to stick to a plan over many years.|
Eagle Project Fundraising Method #2: Fundraising a Few Months Beforehand
The short-term approach may be a more appropriate type of fundraising style depending on when you decided to go for your Eagle, the types of fundraising efforts you’re able to do, or even just personal preference. If you’re in need of some last-minute funds for your project, or you haven’t had time to fundraise previously, this approach is for you!
The goal of this fundraising style is to raise a lot of money in a relatively short period of time. Here are some ideas to consider if you’re trying to fundraise for your Eagle project on a short timeline:
- From Scouts BSA Guide to Advancement: Section 220.127.116.11 Fundraising Issues:
- “Typical unit fundraisers with which unit leadership is familiar, such as car washes, are the best options”
- “Another alternative, contingent on local council approval, is the use of ‘crowdfunding’ via the internet.”
- Yard sale! Take this time to accomplish two things at once: clean out the house and help make money for your Eagle Project. Offer to help your caretakers clean and sell some household items and save a portion/all of the profits!
- Rummage sale! Set up donation boxes at local community centers and plan a day where you can set up and sell whatever items you received.
- Local Business Fundraisers! Talk to local businesses about organizing a night where part of the profits they make that night will go towards fundraising for your Eagle Project. For example, if customers show a special flyer you made to the cashier, 5% of the money from their bill will go towards your Eagle Project.
- Find a part-time job(s)! There are always ways to get some part-time work. You could babysit for neighbors, work at a local shop or restaurant, mow lawns, or anything in between.
- Ask relatives, family, friends, and neighbors for donations! You might be surprised how many people are willing to donate money towards your Eagle Scout Project. A lot of people really support those who go for their Eagle! While it’s best not to completely rely on this idea, any amount you receive will help you.
While these ideas may seem like a lot more work, the bright side is that you can get them organized very quickly. You could spend a week or two organizing a yard sale or spend a day calling up local businesses to see if they can help you out.
While it may seem simple and exciting to do all of your fundraising right before your project, there are definitely some drawbacks to this method. Here are some pros and cons of getting your fundraising done within a few months.
|You can raise a lot of money, quickly.||You might not earn enough money from one idea to carry out your entire plan.|
|You’ll be able to put in a lot of work at once and not have to worry about it as much later.||It’ll likely lead to higher stress because you’ll need to organize big events or contact many people.|
|You’ll learn useful fundraising skills and have a better Eagle project to write about on your college application essays.||You may need to submit a council application and do more work.|
Eagle Project Fundraising Method #3: Asking for Discounts on Materials
This advice is not endorsed by the BSA. It’s just from 2 recent Eagle Scouts who had some luck using this method. Your own experience may vary. Please do your own research on whether this is allowed in your area and discuss your plans with your Scoutmaster, beforehand.
This approach comes from personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt. However, many Eagle Scouts, Cole included, have been able to receive discounts on their Eagle project materials, just by asking a manager! Remember though, don’t use your position in Scouting as a tool to get bigger discounts — and PLEASE don’t act entitled and rude!
If a business gives you a discount, it’s because they want to support you, your journey as a scout, and their community. As such, you shouldn’t be asking for discounts or free materials with the expectation that you are owed anything. Definitely don’t rely on this approach as your main source of fundraising.
With that being said, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to support you on your Eagle Scout Project. When I was creating my budget for my Eagle Scout Project, I went to local businesses as well as bigger department stores to see what it would cost to buy the materials.
An Eagle Scout’s Tips on Asking for Discounts On Eagle Project Materials
- Contact the manager of the store (via phone is best) and tell them you are shopping for materials for your Eagle Scout Project. Ask if there are any discounts you could get!
- If you are visiting any stores in person, be sure to dress in full ClassA uniform. It’s also recommended that you bring a pamphlet outlining your project to leave behind. By acting as professionally as possible, you’ll properly represent Scouting and be more likely to receive a discount!
- Give a brief but sufficiently detailed overview of your project. What is your project? Why are you doing this project? Who is the project for? Managers love to hear about what you’re doing. Plus, it will build your credibility as an up-and-coming Eagle Scout!
- While a big box store (like the one I went to that rhymes with gnome people) may offer set discounts to support Eagle projects, don’t be afraid to talk to local businesses! Usually, local businesses like to support their community, so if you talk to them about your community service project, they may be willing to help you out! Plus you’d also be supporting your community by buying from a local business!
Raising money for your Eagle Scout Project may seem daunting, but just remember that what you’re doing is for the good of your community and your beneficiary! Plus, it’ll also give you a chance to learn about what it takes to plan fundraising events. The hard work you’ve put into planning your Eagle project will definitely be worth it!
In fact, a solid Eagle project will help you through life for years to come! From college applications to even job interviews, your experiences in fundraising, leadership, and service will help you get an edge up over the competition. For more info, see my article on the 5 Scouting skills you can highlight to ace a college or job interview!
Kevin here — that’s it for this article! I’m wishing you the best of luck in your fundraising efforts. As always, be the best scout you can be! 🙂