Month: June 2013

Collecting Donations May be Bad for Your Popcorn Sales

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Penny JarUnits often place a bucket out to collect cash donations at their Show and Sell locations.  I am often told Units want to give a person the option of giving money especially if they do not what to actually purchase popcorn for health or medical reasons.

However, collecting these donations may be affecting the overall success of your Popcorn Sale.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  Collecting Cash Donations for your Unit is against BSA Policy – The Unit Money Earning Application states the following:

“Youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money for their chartered organizations, for the local council, or in support of other organizations. Adult and youth members shall not be permitted to serve as solicitors of money in support of personal or unit participation in local, national, or international events.”

 Units cannot collect cash and put it into their Unit or Scout Accounts.  There must be a product of service offered in exchange for their contribution.  So you may be saying, ‘What about Military Donations?’ Unfortunately, the term ‘Military Donation’ is improperly used.  The term should be Military Order.  Units should place a Military Order for all cash donations collected.

2.  Consumers are most likely to contribute at the lowest level offered – If a Unit has popcorn priced at $10, but then give the customer the option to give an amount lower than $10, the consumer is more likely to contribute at the lower amount.  Remember, consumers are buying Scouting and the youth in front of them, not the product.  They are just as likely to ‘feel good’ about giving $1 or $2 as they are about ‘buying’ a $10 item.  A Scout would have to speak to three times as many people giving $1 as opposed to just getting the profit from selling one $10 item.

3.  Donations may not be worth the Scouts time to collect – Scouts will spend more time talking to more customers to raise the same amount of money.  Let’s look at one of the largest cash donation solicitors in the United States, the Salvation Army.  In 2012, the Salvation Army collected $147.6M nationwide.  That is a lot of money.  However, Red Kettles are out for typically 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas at over 25,000 locations nationwide. If you figure people are ‘ringing’ for 8 hours a day, the average kettle collects less than $25 an hour.  As a matter of fact, the Red Kettles account for only 19% of cash contributions and less than 6% of the overall income to The Salvation Army. While the Salvation Army does considerable good worldwide, this fundraising method may not be the best for the Boy Scouts.

So how do you improve the collection and conversion of cash to Popcorn Sales?  Units should only offer people the ability to buy a particular value of product to send to the Military.  For example, rather than asking for a “donation to support the Military” ask if they would like to purchase a product to be sent to Military Units.  Ask the person to contribute to purchase a $10, $15, $20 or higher to have sent to Military.  My son’s Unit used this method.  Last year they had over $13,000 in “Contributions to Purchase Popcorn for the Military”.  This was 35% of the overall $37,000 Popcorn Sale.  At the end of the sale we split the “Contributions” between the Scouts evenly and place “Military Donations” in the system.

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How to Use Wal-Mart Strategies to Boost your Popcorn Sales

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Hub and SpokeMany of you know of the different ways to sell popcorn including:

  1. Take Order – Using the Order Form to go door-to-door
  2. Show and Sell – Having product on hand to sell in front of a location like a grocery store
  3. Show and Deliver – Going door-to-door with product on hand
  4. Online Sales – sending emails to friends and relatives to sell online

Your Council may not offer all of these methods. However, I am going to present a hybrid version called the Hub and Spoke method that Troop 214 in Anchorage, Alaska used to sell over $90,000 in popcorn.

Wal-Mart currently has 158 Distribution Centers (DC) throughout the United States. These are also known as hubs. Each distribution center is more than 1 million square feet in size, and uses more than 5 miles of conveyor belts to keep products moving to our stores 24 hours a day. The DC holds large quantities of product and each DC services between 90 and 100 stores near the DC in a 200-mile radius like spokes on a wheel.

Now, I am not suggesting you sell popcorn over 200 miles away. However, the concept to selling large quantities of product is the same.

First, establish a hub where the majority of your product is. Troop 214 used five different grocery stores as their ‘hubs’. Each location had their complete variety of products. They had two Scouts man the Show and Sell location. Next, they had 5-pair of Scouts sell Door-to-Door in the neighborhood around the grocery store. When the Scouts went to the door, they asked the customer if they would like the product delivered that day. They would take the money from the customer. When the Scouts finished the street, they would record which houses they contacted on the map provided to them and the Scouts called their ‘hub’ to tell the hub what they needed. A parent would deliver the product from the hub to where the Scouts were and they would deliver the product to the customer. This Troop did this method for several reasons:

  1. Increased the participation of Scouts involved – With this method, 30 Scouts were actively selling during the day. Usually, Scouts spent a couple of hours at the store and a couple in the field.
  2. Increased parent participation – Because this method takes some coordination, parents needed to get involved in the sale. By helping, parents saw the value of doing the sale and how it affected the development of the youth.
  3. Created buzz around the sale – By getting a lot of Scouts involved the first day of the sale, they started their sale out strong and it encouraged the Scouts to go out during the week and sell more.
  4. Kept the product in one location until delivery – Using this method helped reduce the amount of cases that were opened at one time. Their Council had a return policy that only allowed the return of full-unopened cases.

Using this method at average sales of $100/hours, Troop 214 sold nearly $48,000 their opening weekend. The following weekend, Scouts went to houses where no one was home the previous weekend. This ‘hub and spoke’ method proved to be the most efficient way to execute their plan and send the Troop to Hawaii for Camp.

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