Are you considering setting up an online payment option for your Scout Troop? Recently, I did this for our Troop. If you are considering doing this, here are some items to consider.
Troop 719, of which I am currently Scoutmaster, is located in northeast Dallas, Texas. We are a boys-only Troop on the larger size, having between 50 and 60 Scouts every year. The Troop already had multiple ways for parents to pay for dues, campouts, etc. Parents could pay using cash, check or Zelle. Still, it was not very efficient. We failed to collect money for campouts and it was cumbersome to keep reminding people. Since I recently did Wood Badge, I wanted to set-up an online payment solution which allowed parents to pay online using a credit card. In a previous job, I ran an ecommerce company so I am a bit more technical than most people. But with the few pointers below, almost anyone can set up an online payment system for their troop.
Get Buy-In from Troop Committee
For items that effect the entire Troop, make sure to get buy-in from the Troop Committee. This will make it easier if plans don’t work or if you get any objections. I had to propose this twice as it got objections the first time. But, when the topic of money was raised, I re-introduced the idea of having parents pay online for specific items and it was approved. Now, I could proceed knowing I had the support of the Troop Committee. If your committee is resistant, try to do a small test or pilot in which you can report on results.
Options to Consider
Now that the ability for parents to pay online was approved, it was time to find a solution. We needed an easy to set-up and use as well cost-effective solution.
Since I had a background in ecommerce, I looked at solutions like WooCommerce, Shopify or BigCommerce. While these solutions would work, it would be overkill. It would soon be very costly for such a solution. Plus, it would be too technically complex. It would be very hard to find someone to take over this if I left the Troop.
I also considered several apps. While these met some of needs, I thought it best to move away from a Smartphone-only solution.
In doing research, I came across another Troop website that was doing what we wanted to achieve. The Troop had a dedicated payment page for several outings. For each outing, parents could pay using a credit card. I was able to tell the Troop was using a solution called Cheddar Up. After research, this is the online payment system our Troop adopted. During my evaluation, I found the Cheddar Up page dedicated to Boy Scout Troops, which helped in my evaluation. There are other solutions similar to Cheddar Up, make sure to do your research.
Technical Skills Not Required
In many Troops, finding an adult volunteer with technical computer skills can be very difficult. Many online payment solutions will definitely require technical skills. Cheddar Up can be set-up without any technical skill. You can get started quickly and set-up in an hour or so. While technical skill will make it easier, it is definitely not needed. The hardest part of getting site up was getting our tax id number, which is not a requirement to use it.
Start for Free
One of the best parts of Cheddar Up is that you can get started free. Our Troop is on the Basic Plan, which does not cost the Troop anything. For now, this plans works for us. But, we may need to upgrade in the future.
Although Cheddar Up is free for the Troop, it is not actually free. Like all online payment platforms, Cheddar Up charges a fee for each transaction. Cheddar Up charges 3.5% and 59 cents per transaction. We choose to pass those fees back to the parents paying online. Anyone that does now want to pay the extra fee, can pay via cash, check or Zelle. Since we pass along the fees, we will not be offering this for larger cost items, such as dues or Summer Camp.
Like other platforms, Cheddar Up does not reduce the fees if you go to a paying plan. It would be nice for the fees to be lowered a bit if we moved to the Pro plan and more if we moved to the Team plan.
Website Not Needed
You do not a website to be able to user Cheddar Up. This is another reason it easy for non-technical users. Currently, we have events included on a single page of the official Troop website. You can easily embed each item in which are collecting money, such as campouts, Eagle projects, etc. If you not have a website or would prefer not to list these publicly, you can simply email a link for each different activity.
Troop 719 Results
Parents have appreciated being able to pay online. Recently, for the swim test the Troop ran, over 50% of people chose to pay online. Also, people can now donate for specific Eagle project, which Scouts can use to raise money.
About Paul Gerst
Paul Gerst currently is the Scoutmaster of Troop 719. Paul has 2 sons in Troop 719. Both of whom are working toward obtaining the rank of Eagle. Paul has served Troop 719 as Trail to First Class Advisor, Advancement Coordinator and now Scoutmaster. He is looking to complete his Wood Badge tickets. This article is summary of one of Paul’s Wood Badge tickets. You can contact Paul by sending a message through the Contact Us page of this site.