The Best Item to Keep All Scouts Motivated During the Popcorn Sale

prize buttonAs I travel around the country, Units have asked me this question, “If there is one thing that will motivate Scouts (and parents) to sell popcorn, what would that be?”  The answer can be said in one word…Incentives.

Recently, the Top 100 Units in each of the four Scouting Regions were asked to complete a survey. These Units averaged just over $28,000 in sales.  In this survey, the question was asked, “Outside of the Prize Program or other Council sponsored prizes, did your Unit offer additional prizes or cash to Scouts for the Popcorn Sale?”  Of these Units, 82% stated they offered their own Unit-level prizes.

I asked these Units why they offered their own Unit incentives.  Here are the four most common responses:

  1. Immediate Recognition – As we know from the Scouting Advancement program, Scouts prefer to receive recognition as soon as they earn it.  If a Scout meets a certain goal by the end of the day, giving some reward at that moment provides the Scout a sense of accomplishment.  In addition, the Scout did not have to ‘wait until December or later’ to receive his prize.
  2. Increases Likelihood of Getting a Prize – Many Councils conduct a drawing if Scouts “Fill a Form” or sell a certain dollar amount.  However, depending on the number of Scouts that are eligible, the chance may be slim.  Scouts have a higher probability if they in a drawing with just Scouts in his Unit instead of the entire Council.
  3. Increases Team Morale – Some Units offer a special reward or activity which everyone can receive if the Scout or Unit reaches a certain level.  Most Units have charts to show the progress toward the goal.  In addition, these charts encourage those Scouts that are behind or not participating to do their part.
  4. Wanted Better Quality Prizes – Some Units did not like the Prize Program being offered by their local Council.  They felt prizes at the lower levels were not of good quality and felt they could do better.   In addition, some Councils do not offer a Prize Program.  Top Selling Units from this survey created their own Unit Prize Program to provide incentives for their Scouts.

In this same survey of the Top 100 Units in each Scouting Region, a follow-up question was asked.  “If Yes, what percentage of your Gross Sale did your Unit spend for these additional prizes?”  The results are surprising.

Incentive Chart

The majority of Units allocated 1%-2% of their sale toward Unit prizes.  However, these Units sold on average $28,000.  This means even these Units allocated $280-$560 for Unit Incentives.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is 12% percent of Units that allocated 5% or more of their Gross Sale toward Unit Prizes.  This equates to $1400-$1960.

If you want to get as many Scouts (and parents) motived about the Popcorn Sale, I recommend setting aside a minimum 3% of your Gross Sale for Unit Prize Incentives.  These incentives could be Individual Scout Incentives, a large Unit-wide incentive or a combination of both.


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