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We’ll Be Square Scouts: I Promise to Do My Best to Process Payments Electronically…

Christina Nathanson |

I enjoy volunteering. For the past three years I was Cubmaster to my son’s Cub Scout Pack. One of highlights of the year is our annual Bonfire and S’mores recruiting event at the local Italian Center; it’s the time to sign up new and returning Scouts for the year and have them pay the registration fee.

At the 2010 Bonfire, 37 percent of the scouts, both new and returning, paid for registration on that day by either cash or check. Most parents said, “Oh, I don’t have money right now. Can I sign up and pay you later?” Scout packs are incented to increase membership each year, so we needed to convert those “I don’t knows” to “YES.”

The payment mogul in me said to my Committee Chair (a.k.a. my husband), “We need to take credit or debit cards from now on. I’m getting us a Square reader.” The reader dongle was free; we downloaded the app and linked it to our Pack’s bank account. Cub Scout Pack 48 has been proudly accepting card payments via iPhone or iPad since 2010 – the “early adopters.”

The story is in the numbers –by 2012, we converted almost half of all scout registrations on the day of our Bonfire to cards:

Scouts

Source: Christina Nathanson

Square turned Pack 48 into a “merchant.” We used it for everything that involved payments: camping trips, Pack events, recruiting and Pack fees, and to my delight (and to others too), during the annual Boy Scout Popcorn fundraising drive—where we raise the majority of our Pack funds for the year.

One sunny Saturday morning, four Scouts and their parents set-up a “Show and Sell” outside the local donut shop.  It’s a busy location and we typically do well there. The boys would ask patrons, “Would you like to buy some popcorn for our Cub Scout Pack? And if you don’t have cash, we take credit cards too.” (I train them well.)  On the first day we used Square, we had $100 in credit card sales. The next day we had $92 – that’s $192 of revenue incurred as a result of card acceptance.

The Girl Scouts have been using Square for their cookie sales – and the story is the same. Last year, Scouting Magazine blogged about it as well, touting the same message, even mentioning that some councils are giving Square readers out to Packs to make their lives easier.

As the Cub Scout Motto says, “Do Your Best!”  And we did!

Topics: Mobile, Payments Strategy

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3 Comments

  1. Craig Orr said on May 25, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply

    the challenge with electronic funds has been cost in many cases. we have used the Chase online payments solution to avoid cost but it takes some setting up and is not as real time or convenient as accepting credit cards. how much does square charge?

    • Christina Nathanson said on May 28, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply

      Craig,

      Square charges 2.75% per swipe, so yes, the pack paid almost 3 cents of every $1 charged. However, funds go directly into the pack account, so there is no cash waiting for deposit and we were able to itemize the charge, with receipt back to the customer.

      This was a great solution for Pack 48 and we viewed this as a small investment to increase participation and engagement, over time. In particular, with regard to popcorn sales, we had people make purchases they may not have made because they preferred to use a credit card or didn’t have cash on them.

      Thanks for your comment. Christina

  2. Ray Jones said on July 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Reply

    square is great, however it has some limitations. Expanding our juice stores with a mobile truck required us to begin taking mobile payments. We had also recently set up an online store selling our merchandise. We had all of our payment locations integrated and our new POS systems all work together. http://orbispaymentservices.com/ helped us link them all into one account.