FUNDRAISING! Oh there’s that word that sends shivers up and down the spine of otherwise great parents and Scouting Leaders. Besides the obvious financial reasons, which sometimes get offset by parents willing to just pay more, why must a movements such as ours do fundraising?

IT'S A FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY: Fundraising is a fantastic opportunity to teach youth important life skills including planning, budgeting, goal setting, communication, teamwork and working with a purpose. It give them self-confidence by teaching them basic public speaking skills, develop a sense of responsibility and teaches them that they can earn their own way. It offers the opportunity for senior scouts to develop leadership and organizational skills, to get families involved in Scouting and promote public awareness of our great movement as a positive youth development program. It doesn't end with Scouting either. Once youth have figured out the basics, they can actually go out and take their new skills to the other organizations they might be involved in and help improve their fundraising skills.

ATTITUDE IS PARAMOUNT: Fundraising need not be a chore. However attitude and inspiration must start with leaders and parents. Using basic common sense life skills training (being polite, good presentation, dressing well, showing respect), fundraising can be a fun and exciting experience for everyone. It's been my experience that if you practice little by doing some role playing during regular meetings before you start your fundraising campaign, youth tend to find greater courage, feel more confident, and have more fun doing it. Turn practice into skits and actually fundraising into a challenging game!

A STAKE IN THE PROGRAM: Teaching kids the purpose of fundraising, explaining the reason why they are doing it, and setting a goal are three very powerful driving forces to keep youth motivated and committed to reaching their goals. Your youth have more influence on Scouting than anyone else. How many kids realize that they are the ambassadors of Scouting when they meet other people, or even other or new youth? Working and reaching their goals will not only make them feel that they have accomplished something, they will appreciate what they get in return that much more. If you are raising money to purchase a new tent or canoe, youth will tend to take better care of it knowing all the effort they did to purchase that equipment.

WHAT ARE WE REALLY SAYING WHEN WE SAY NO? Every time we say no to our children, either that something is too expensive, that a place is too far away, that there isn't enough time or that something is too hard, we are actually teaching them to give up on their dreams, now and in the future. We must encourage youth to dream, to expand and explore their imagination and to believe in themselves. We can teach them that, by working together, they can do and achieve more than they could on their own and develop their own true potential in life. Teach and guide them on how to achieve their goals and then let them decide if it is really worth the effort. Next time you feel like saying "no" to a youth when they dare to dream, first ask yourself if it is perhaps you the leader who is not interested in pursuing their dream?

Can you think of any other single activity that can accomplish all this and more? Fundraising is a time to celebrate our goals, celebrate our dreams, celebrate our strengths and celebrate teamwork. Throw a party! Let's put the FUN back into FUNdraising!

Today's youth will be the parents and leaders of our communities and businesses of tomorrow. Would you rather create a world who believes in "Can not" or "Can do"?

SCOUT POPCORN TRAINING VIDEO: Scouts Canada has a fundraising training DVD for youth, leaders and even parents. Although it refers to the Scout Popcorn program, the concepts discussed in the video can be used in many other situations.

The Scout Popcorn in particular is more than just your typical fundraiser. It's an exciting program that includes incentives such as crests, certificates, contests, prizes and even a scholarship program, not to mention an excellent potential for making profit for both you and your council. Even if you aren't interested in participating in this great fundraiser, there are some really great tips on the DVD which can help your troop run smoother and allow you to develop a truly exciting and inspiring program. Don't let the words "we don't have the money" limit the potential of an otherwise outstanding program. Leaders will have more fun and youth will too.

Be sure to take a look the videos on the Trails End web site: for some great ideas.

Michael Milette is a Scouter with the 27th Nepean Scout Troop in Nepean Area.

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