Church policy allows one fundraiser a year per group for the purpose of paying for one camp or needed equipment. The fundraiser must fit within the following guidelines (from the most recent version of the Church Handbook):
If a fund-raising activity is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service. It should be a positive experience that builds unity.
Contributions to fund-raising activities are voluntary. Priesthood leaders should take special care to ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute.
Stakes and wards that sponsor fund-raising activities should not advertise or solicit beyond their boundaries. Nor should they sell products or services door to door.
Examples of fund-raising activities that are not approved include:
1. Activities that would be taxable.
2. Activities completed with paid labor, either by employees or by contract.
3. Entertainment for which the stake or ward pays performers for their services, when admission is charged, and when the intent of the activity is to raise funds.
4. The sale of commercial goods or services, including food storage items.
5. Games of chance, such as raffles, lotteries, and bingo.
Any exceptions to these instructions must be approved by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.
The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.
In the past, popcorn sales has been an approved method of fundraising for Scouts, but a statement has not been made by Church leaders as to whether that is still the case with the newest fundraising guidelines.
Here is an article where several people contributed ideas of fundraisers that had been successful in their wards. Some of the ideas in the article specifically mention ways to overcome awkwardness in ward dinners with suggested donations as well as inherent problems in service and cake auctions. This article gives some ideas for services that could be offered for auction. Here is the story of a ward that used an auction for its Cub Scout Pack and did it in such a way that the ward as a whole was strengthened by it.
It is my opinion that when the ward is the main audience for the fund-raiser that it is best when the fundraiser somehow brings the ward together like in the story. Another example is a pack I participated in where a pancake breakfast was held in conjunction with the pinewood derby on a Saturday morning. This not only raised money for the Cub Scouts, it encouraged support for the program by turning the derby into a ward activity to be shared by everyone. There were extra races held after the boys' cars were raced that anyone who wanted to could enter a car. This gave siblings, those who had never had the opportunity to be Cub Scouts, as well as dads who might otherwise be tempted to more than "help" with their sons' cars an opportunity to build and race their own cars. These "leader and family races" were very informal and fun for everyone. I have heard of some packs having similar races and charging a small admission fee for entering a car in the extra races as part of the fundraiser. Pancake breakfasts are low cost and easy to do, and the suggested donation price does not need to be very high. In addition, if you look on the back of the large Krusteaz bags, you will find information about how to receive some money back from the company if you use the product as part of a fundraiser (remember to save a copy of your receipt).
Not selling products door-to-door does not mean that the ward has to be the main source of funds. Look for opportunities for meaningful ways to help the community as whole. Car washes are a classic way for youth to raise money. You may find that there is a need in your community that is not being met that is also a way for your Scouts to earn money. For example, our community has a Fourth of July celebration that is relatively new. There are activities in the park in the morning before the parade, including a breakfast. The event has only been going on for a few years, so there isn't a particular group established to run the breakfast every year. Last year the committee had to look for a group willing to do it. This would be a great opportunity for a troop to provide a service that benefits the community and raises funds for their camp at the same time.
Remember that any fundraising activity needs to be approved by your bishop. He is the one who is appointed to receive revelation in this area. Follow the Spirit, and good luck finding ways to fund your program.
The final post in this series tomorrow will cover some additional thoughts on expenses associated with Scouting.