***The opinions contained within are my own.
It’s that time of year again. Those adorable Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors are going to be going door to door, camping out in front of store entrances, and entreating you to buy their tasty wares. Some of you will smile and say no thanks. Some of you may stop and buy. And some of you will ask why you can’t just write a check to your daughter’s troop and avoid this hassle altogether.
First, let me tell you a little bit about selling cookies. Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a Brownie, the first thing I would do is open my cookie packet and look at the incentives. There were toys, stuffed animals and all kinds of things that would make my little heart race. I wanted them all. Then I would look at how many boxes I had to sell to attain those incentives. And then I got realistic. I set a goal, and did everything in my power to achieve it. I lived in a small town, and most of my family lived a minimum of 30 miles away, but I would call my aunts and uncles and ask if I could put them down for a box. I would send the sign-up sheet to work with my mom and dad, along with a note of how many boxes I was trying to sell. Then I would bundle up and circle my neighborhood. I knocked on doors, smiled, and asked if I could interest them in some cookies.
These days, a lot of Girl Scout councils are moving in a new direction. Instead of buying the cookies now, and having them delivered later, the cookies get ordered at the start of the season. Girls head out with their supply of cookies in hand. That means that now, more than ever, girls have to make and set achievable goals. They’re taking the cash and handing over the product. So we’re teaching girls to handle money (change making skills, etc.) and make goals. Know what else we’re teaching them? Responsibility. They are responsible for all of the cookies they say they can sell. Sure, most councils will allow some returns, but the number of boxes allowed is usually fairly limited. They also have to be responsible to get the money turned back in. So… goal-making, financial awareness, responsibility. Not too bad for a quick cookie sale.
As far as where the cookie money goes, and why you shouldn’t just write that check to the troop…
If you write a check to a troop and forego the sale, you’re giving money to the troop. That means they may be able to buy some really cool craft supplies, take a field trip or have a pizza party.
If you participate in the cookie sale, you’re helping to teach a generation of girls that it takes work to get the things you want in life. You’re helping to reinforce the life skills I mentioned up above. And on top of all of that, you’re helping to enrich their total Girl Scout experience.
Do you know where the cookie money goes? Let me give you a breakdown, based on my local council’s pricing.
About 3% of the total cost goes to buying the various incentives for the girls. I don’t know if you’ve seen today’s incentives, but they are pretty amazing. We had girls earning laptops and iPads last year.
About 17% goes directly back to the troop. They use this money for supplies, field trips, parties and whatever else the troop wants to use it for.
About 25% goes back to the baker. Baking and shipping those cookies costs money. There are two bakers that make all of the Girl Scout cookies for the country.
About 55% goes to the Girl Scout council. I know this seems like a lot. But when you look at all of the amazing things the Girl Scouts can do with that 55%, you can see that it’s worth it. That cookie money keeps the doors open on camp properties. It enables the council to offer amazing events and programs for the girls throughout the year. It helps fund the training of volunteers and support services for all of the members. Girl Scouts are thrifty, and we can make a dollar stretch. But we can only make that dollar stretch when it comes into the council. While supporting a troop with a donation is a noble cause, supporting the cookie sale actually offers more opportunities to the troop, because the council will be able to create programs for the girls to participate in.
In addition to the cold, hard cash, girls also earn Cookie Money based on the number of boxes they sell (you know, kind of like the $25 for every $100 you spend to be used at a later date deals at department stores). It’s Monopoly money for Girl Scouts. They can use their Cookie Money to help defray the costs of summer camp, buy books and troop supplies in the shops, and a variety of other ways.
So you may be willing to buy the cookies, but you don’t want to eat them. No problem! Most councils offer a cookie donation program. They will donate the purchased but unwanted cookies to food shelves, and send care packages to overseas soldiers. If your council doesn’t offer one of these programs, you can suggest that they check it out, or do it yourself! Drop the boxes of cookies in a food collection box. Take them to a senior center. Share them with friends and family. I knew one lady who used to take them and drop them off at dorms, sororities and frat houses.
This gives you an idea of how the cookie crumbles. Please support your local Girl Scout troops and buy some cookies!!