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Troop Finances

How do girls become financially empowered women? Through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), that’s how! Your Girl Scout troop should plan and finance its own activities, and you’ll coach your girls as they earn and manage troop funds. Troop activities are powered by proceeds earned through council-sponsored product program activities (such as the Girl Scout Cookie Program), group money-earning activities (council approved, of course!), and any dues your troop may charge. 

With your guidance, girls will learn key money skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

GSNI Money Earning Guidelines

GSNI's money-earning requirements

The Fall Product Program and Girl Scout Cookie Program are GSNI’s main money-earning financial literacy programs for troops to earn funds. Sometimes these are not enough for the troop to provide the best Girl Scouting experience the girls want to have. Therefore, Brownie through Ambassador troops have the opportunity to apply to do other money-earning activities. Before the troop can be approved to plan a money-earning activity, they must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Money earned is for Girl Scout activities and is not to be retained by individuals. Girls can, however, be awarded incentives and/or may earn credits from their Girl Scout product programs. Funds acquired through group money-earning projects must be reported and accounted for by the group, while following council procedures.
    • Participation in the Fall Product Program: Troops/groups must have at least 25% of registered girls participate and achieve a $150 troop/group total. For example, a troop of 10 registered girls must have at least 3 girls sell an average of $50 each to have a troop total of $150. If all 10 registered girls participate, they would each need to sell an average of $15 to achieve the $150 troop total.
    • Participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Program: Troops/groups must have at least 50% of registered girls participate and achieve at least a 180 box troop/group total. For example, a troop of 10 registered girls must have at least 5 girls sell an average of 36 boxes each to reach 180 boxes. If all 10 registered girls participate, they would each need to sell an average of 18 boxes each.

In an effort to preserve the integrity of the Fall Product and Girl Scout Cookie Programs, troops/groups should avoid holding money-earning activities targeted to the public from October 1–November 1 and January 1–April 1. All applications for money-earning activities during these times will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Money-Earning Application Process

After reviewing the guidelines for Money-Earning Basics above and in Volunteer Essentials: Troop Finances, your troop will be required to submit a Money-Earning Application to GSNI before scheduling your money-earning project for approval. You can find the Money-Earning Application on GSNI’s website on the Forms and Document page or the Resource Tab on Volunteer Toolkit.

Follow these steps to ensure your Money-Earning Application gets approved:

  1. Go over your troop’s budget with your girls. Did the girls earn enough money during the Fall Product and Cookie Programs to accomplish their goals for the year?
  2. How much more money will the girls need to raise in order to accomplish their goals?
  3. Brainstorm some money-earning ideas with the girls following the guidelines for money-earning projects inVolunteer Essentials
  4. Pick a money-earning idea.
  5. Have the girls help complete the Money-Earning Application.
  6. Submit the Money-Earning Application to your Member Support Specialist to verify Fall Product and Cookie Program participation requirements within 30 days of the project start date.
  7. Your Member Support Specialist or the Fund Development representative will respond to your request for approval or denial within a week of your submission.
  8. Once your Money-Earning Application is approved, you may continue your troop’s planning for the project! 
Establishing a Troop Account

No matter how much your troop plans on saving or spending, you’ll need a safe place to deposit your troop dues, product sale proceeds, and other funds. If you’ve stepped up to lead an existing troop, you may inherit a checking account, but with a new troop, you’ll want to open a new bank account. 

Here are a few helpful tips: 

  • To open an account, troops/groups must have a minimum of two registered adult signers (non-related). Both signers must have gone through the volunteer approval process (registered as an adult Girl Scout, and pass the criminal background check).
  • If a Bank Signer is not a Troop Leader and has not completed the New Troop Leader required trainings; the Bank Signer must complete the following
  • After training is complete, request an ACH Agreement Form and New Troop Bank Letter from your Member Support Specailist via email: Customercare@girlscoutsni.org.
  • Be sure to find a bank that has free checking and low fees.
  • Designate a “troop treasurer,” that is, one person who is responsible for troop funds and for keeping a daily account of expenditures. 
  • Ensure your account comes with a debit card that you can use during activities or trips. These transactions are easier to track at the end of the year.
  • Be prepared like a Girl Scout, and make sure another troop volunteer has accessible a debit card for the troop account in case the main card is lost.
  • Handle a lost troop debit card the same way you would a personal debit card: cancel it immediately.
  • Keep troop funds in the bank before an activity or trip, and pay for as many items as possible in advance of your departure.

Follow your council’s financial policies and procedures for setting up an account. Most council-sponsored product program activities have specific banking and tracking procedures.

Budgeting, Record Keeping, Financial Reporting

  • Any person handling money, writing/signing checks, or handling bank accounts and records must be a currently registered member of Girl Scouts and have completed a background check and have taken the Level New Leader Workshop or Troop Financial Training. Background checks are updated every three years.
  • Anyone who purchases troop supplies should carry a copy of the GSNI Tax Exempt Letter located on the Online Support for Volunteers page of GSNI’s website.
  • All volunteers associated with a troop/group should have up-to-date accurate records of all monies received and spent, including receipts, the troop/group’s bank account statements, and checkbook register
  • Troop/Group members, parents, girls, Service Unit Managers, Service Unit Treasurer, and the council have the right to review all financial records upon request. Bank Signers should give a quarterly report to the girls and parents in the troop.
  • Troops/Groups should budget and plan to spend their money within a single membership year for the benefit of girls within the troop/group. If plans are being made for an extended trip or the troop/group is planning activities for the next membership year, then funds can be carried over to the new membership year.
  • The troop/group must provide an annual financial report to the Service Unit Manager or their designee by June 15. The annual financial report includes a completed Detailed Cash Record-Annual Financial Report form, all receipts, and bank statements for September, November, March, and May of that year.
  • GSNI reserves the right to request mid-year audits of troop bank accounts.
  • Volunteer reappointment may depend on receipt and approval of financial reports.
  • Troops/groups/individuals sponsoring a service unit event must account for all income and expenses through the service unit bank account, not a troop/group account.
Troop Disbanding and Unused Troop Funds

When a troop disbands, any unused Girl Scout money left in the account becomes the property of the council. Troop funds are not the property of any individual girl. Before disbanding, ask your girls how they want to pay it forward: they may decide to donate any unused funds to their service unit, to another troop, or to pay for girl activities. Girl activities can include purchasing materials to support another organization through Take Action projects. 

How to Handle Changes within a Troop/Group

1. If a girl leaves, transfers to another troop/group, or registers as an individually Registered Member (IRM):

  • All money remains with the original troop/group and is neither given to the girl nor transferred to another troop/group.
  • If a girl leaves during the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the decision about cookie proceeds will be processed on a case-by-case basis by GSNI. It is NOT recommend for a girl to transfer into another troop during the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

2. When an entire troop/group moves from one program level to another:

  • All money moves with the troop/group (i.e., from Girl Scout Brownies to Juniors).

3. In an ongoing troop/group, where only some of the girls are bridging to a new program age level troop/group:

  • All money will remain with the original troop/group and is neither given to the girls nor transferred to another troop/group.

4. If the troop/group divides:

  • An annual financial report is completed and turned into the Service Unit Manager.
  • All assets are apportioned between the two treasuries on a pro-rata basis according to girl membership at the time of division.

5. If a troop/group disbands, is no longer functioning, or has not re-registered as of October 1 of the membership year:

  • The leader must have completed and submitted a Detailed Cash Record-Annual Finance Report and a Disbanded Troop/Group Form.
  • The troop/group bank account must be closed and a cashier’s check for the ending balance, payable to GSNI, is submitted to the council. All assets, together with disbandment and financial reports, unused checks and debit cards must also be turned in to the council.
  • The distribution of gift cards/retail merchandise/cash to each girl/adult is not permitted when closing a troop/group treasury upon disbandment.
  • Renewal of membership dues for girls who would like to continue in Girl Scouts is permitted.

6. If some of the girls from the disbanded troop/group continue in a new troop/group:

  • All assets are divided on a pro-rated basis. Assets for girls continuing in Girl Scouts are given to the new troop/group.
  • All remaining assets are returned to the council for the best interest of girls within the council.

7. If there is a change of leadership:

  • Outgoing leaders must submit a financial report to the Service Unit Manager at the time of leadership change.
  • A copy of the financial report with all assets, funds, bank statements, and unused checks will be given to the new leader.
  • The outgoing leader must coordinate with the new leader and bank account signers to make necessary changes to the troop/group account.
  • The new leader must submit the New or Changing ACH Agreement to the council.
Closing the Troop Account

When closing a troop account, be sure all checks and other debits have cleared the account before you close it. Remember, you may have to close the account in person. Turn remaining funds over to a council staff member.

 

Money-Earning Basics for Troops

Troops flex their financial muscles in two distinct ways: 

  • The Girl Scout Cookie Program and other sales of Girl Scout–authorized products (such as calendars, magazines, or nuts and candy), organized by your council. All girl members are eligible to participate in two council-sponsored product sale activities each year with volunteer supervision: the cookie program and one other council-authorized product sale. Please remember, volunteers and Girl Scout council staff don’t sell cookies and other products—girls do. 
  • Group money-earning activities organized by the troop (not by the council) that are planned and carried out by girls (in partnership with volunteers) and that earn money for the group. 

Participation Guidance
Girls’ participation in both council-sponsored product sale activities and group money-earning projects is based upon the following:

  • Voluntary participation
  • Written permission of each girl’s parent or guardian
  • An understanding of (and ability to explain clearly to others) why the money is needed
  • An understanding that money earning should not exceed what the group needs to support its program activities
  • Observance of local ordinances related to involvement of children in money-earning activities as well as health and safety laws
  • Vigilance in protecting the personal safety of each girl 
  • Arrangements for safeguarding the money

GSNI Product Program and Money Earning Project Guidelines

Troop size requirements have been in effect since the 2016/2017 Membership Year Product Programs.

  • For Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie, and Junior Troops: Minimum size is 5 girls (from multiple families) and 2 unrelated leaders, one of which is a female.
  • For Girl Scout Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Troops: Minimum size is 3 girls (from multiple families) and 2 unrelated leaders, one of which is a female.

Girls in Troops that have not met these minimums will be treated as Independently Registered Members (IRMs) for the purposes of troop proceeds and girl rewards. This minimum MUST be met by October 20, 2019.

If your troop does not meet the minimum size as outlined above, your troop will automatically be treated as a group of IRMs. For example: If you have a Brownie troop of 4 girls or a Cadette Troop of 2 girls, your troop will be treated as a group of IRMs for product rewards and no troop proceeds will be awarded.

During sweeps, your troop account will be swept for the entire cost of product sold. Proceeds are NOT kept by the troop. Girls will earn S’more Dough in place of troop proceeds.

It does NOT mean your troop will no longer be a troop. Your troop remains intact and would be included in the Opportunity Catalog for additional girls to join.

For more information, please contact your Service Unit Fall Product Program Coordinator, Service Unit Cookie Coordinator, or contact a member of GSNI’s Product Program Team.

Additional Guidelines
Keep these specific guidelines—some of which are required by the Internal Revenue Service—in mind to ensure that sales are conducted with legal and financial integrity. 

  • See GSNI Money-Earning Application Process for more on GSNI's Money-Earning Guidelines.
  • All rewards earned by girls through the product sale activities must support Girl Scout program experiences (such as camp, travel, and program events, but not scholarships or financial credits toward outside organizations).
  • Rewards are based on sales ranges set by councils and may not be based on a dollar-per-dollar calculation.
  • Troops are encouraged to participate in council product sales as their primary money-earning activity; any group money earning shouldn’t compete with the Girl Scout Cookie Program or other council product sales.
  • Obtain written approval from your council before a group money-earning event; most councils ask that you submit a request for approval. 
  • Girl Scouts discourages the use of games of chance. Any activity which could be considered a game of chance (raffles, contests, bingo) must be approved by the local Girl Scout council and be conducted in compliance with all local and state laws. 
  • Girl Scouts’ Blue Book policy forbids girls from the direct solicitation of cash. Girls can collect partial payment toward the purchase of a package of Girl Scout Cookies and other Girl Scout–authorized products through participation in council-approved product sale donation programs.
  • Girl Scouts forbids product demonstration parties where the use of the Girl Scout trademark increases revenue for another business, such as in-home product parties. Any business using the Girl Scout trademark or other Girl Scout intellectual property must seek authorization from GSUSA.
  • Group money-earning activities need to be suited to the ages and abilities of the girls and consistent with the principles of the GSLE.
  • Money earned is for Girl Scout activities and is not to be retained by individuals. Girls can, however, be awarded incentives and/or may earn credits from their Girl Scout product sales. Funds acquired through group money-earning projects must be reported and accounted for by the group according to council procedures. 

Sample Money-Earning Activities
Collections/Drives

  • Cell phones for refurbishment
  • Used ink cartridges turned in for money
  • Christmas tree recycling

Food/Meal Events

  • Lunch box auction (prepared lunch or meal auctioned off)
  • Themed meals, like a high tea or a build-your-own-taco bar, related to activities girls are planning (For instance, if girls are earning money for travel, they could tie the meal to their destination.) 

Service(s)

  • Service-a-thon (people sponsor a girl doing service and funds go to support a trip or other activity)
  • Babysitting for holiday (New Year’s Eve) or council events
  • Raking leaves, weeding, cutting grass, shoveling snow, walking pets
  • Cooking class or other specialty class

The Girl Scout Cookie Program and other council-sponsored product sales are designed to unleash the entrepreneurial potential in your girls. From there, your troop may decide to earn additional funds on its own. 

Help Your Troop Reach its Financial Goals

We get it—there’s something exciting about opening that first case of Girl Scout cookies.  However, before your girls take part in all the cookie program fun, it’s important they have a clear plan and purpose for their product-sale activities. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to facilitate girl-led financial planning, which may include the following steps for the girls:

  1. Set goals for money-earning activities. What do girls hope to accomplish through this activity? In addition to earning money, what skills do they hope to build? What leadership opportunities present themselves?

  2. Create a budget. Use a budget worksheet that includes both expenses (the cost of supplies, admission to events, travel, and so on) and available income (the group’s account balance, projected cookie proceeds, and so on).

  3. Determine how much the group needs to earn. Subtract expenses from available income to determine how much money your group needs to earn.

  4. Make a plan. The group can brainstorm and make decisions about its financial plans. Will cookie and other product sales—if approached proactively and energetically—earn enough money to meet the group’s goals? If not, which group money-earning activities might offset the difference? Will more than one group money-earning activity be necessary to achieve the group’s financial goals? In this planning stage, engage the girls through the Girl Scout processes (girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning) and consider the value of any potential activity. Have them weigh feasibility, implementation, and safety factors. 

  5. Write it out. Once the group has decided on its financial plan, describe it in writing. If the plan involves a group money-earning activity, fill out an application for approval from your council and submit it along with the budget worksheet the girls created. 

Remember: It’s great for girls to have opportunities, like the Girl Scout Cookie Program, to earn funds that help them fulfill their goals as part of the GSLE. As a volunteer, try to help girls balance the money-earning they do with opportunities to enjoy other activities that have less emphasis on earning and spending money. Take Action projects, for example, may not always require girls to spend a lot of money!

Financial Management and Product Program Abilities by Grade Level

As with other Girl Scout activities, girls build their financial and sales savvy as they get older. Every girl will be different, but here you’ll find some examples of the abilities and opportunities for progression of girls at each grade level.

Girl Scout Daisies 
The group volunteer handles money, keeps financial records, and does all group budgeting.
Parents/guardians may decide they will contribute to the cost of activities.
Girls can participate in Girl Scout cookie activities and other council-sponsored product sales.
Daisies are always paired with a volunteer when selling anything. Girls do the asking and deliver the product, but volunteers handle the money and keep the girls secure.
Girls should be given the opportunity to practice identifying money and counting back change with an adult during each transaction.
Girl Scout Brownies
The group volunteer handles money, keeps financial records, and shares some of the group-budgeting responsibilities.
Girls discuss the cost of activities (supplies, fees, transportation, rentals, and so on) with guidance from their volunteer(s).
Girls set goals for and participate in council-sponsored product sales.
Girls may decide to pay dues to contribute to the cost of activities.
Girl Scout Juniors 
The group volunteer retains overall responsibility for long-term budgeting and record-keeping, but shares or delegates all other financial responsibilities.
Girls set goals for and participate in council-sponsored product sales.
Girls decide on group dues, if any. Dues are collected by girls and recorded by a group treasurer (selected by the girls).
Girls budget for the short-term needs of the group, on the basis of plans and income from the group dues.
Girls budget for more long-term activities, such as overnight trips, group camping, and special events. 
Girls budget for Take Action projects, including the Girl Scout Bronze Award, if they are pursuing it.
Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors 
Girls estimate costs based on plans.
Girls determine the amount of group dues (if any) and the scope of money-earning projects.
Girls set goals for and participate in council-sponsored product sales.
Girls carry out budgeting, planning, and group money-earning projects.
Girls budget for extended travel, Take Action projects, and leadership projects.
Girls may be involved in seeking donations for Take Action projects, with council approval.
Girls keep their own financial records and give reports to parents and group volunteers.
Girls budget for Take Action projects, including the Girl Scout Silver or Gold Awards, if they are pursuing them.
Working with Sponsors and Other Organizations

Every girl deserves an empowering leadership experience like Girl Scouts and local sponsors can help councils make that vision a reality. Community organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and individuals may be sponsors and may provide group meeting places, volunteer their time, offer in-kind donations, provide activity materials, or loan equipment. Encourage your girls to celebrate a sponsor’s contribution to the troop by sending thank-you cards, inviting the sponsor to a meeting or ceremony, or working together on a Take Action project.

For information on working with a sponsor, consult your council; they can give you guidance on the availability of sponsors, recruiting guidelines, and any council policies or practices that must be followed. Your council may already have relationships with certain organizations, or may know of some reasons not to collaborate with certain organizations.

Important guidelines when approaching money earning with other organizations

When collaborating with any other organization, keep these additional guidelines in mind: 

Avoid fundraising for other organizations: Girl Scouts are not allowed to solicit money on behalf of another organization when identifying ourselves as Girl Scouts (such as wearing a uniform, a sash or vest, official pins, and so on). This includes participating in a walkathon or telethon while in uniform. However, you and your group can support another organization through take-action projects. Girl Scouts as individuals are able to participate in whatever events they choose, as long as they’re not wearing anything that officially identifies them as “Girl Scouts.” 

Steer clear of political fundraisers: When in an official Girl Scout capacity or in any way identifying yourselves as Girl Scouts, your group may not participate (directly or indirectly) in any political campaign or work on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office. Letter-writing campaigns are not allowed, nor is participating in a political rally, circulating a petition, or carrying a political banner. 

Be respectful when collaborating with religious organizations: Girl Scout groups must respect the opinions and practices of religious partners, but no girl should be required to take part in any religious observance or practice of the sponsoring group. 

Avoid selling or endorsing commercial products: “Commercial products” is any product sold at a retail location. Since 1939, girls and volunteers have not been allowed to endorse, provide a testimonial for, or sell such products.

Troop/Group Donations

Troop/Group In-Kind Donations

1.     If a troop/group wishes to request an in-kind donation from a community business, solicitation approval from the Fund Development Department must be granted prior to requesting the donation. It is the troop/group’s responsibility to complete the Permission Request for Solicitation form and submit two weeks prior to solicitation. It is important the form be completed in its entirety for ease of approval. The Fund Development Department will respond to your request within five business days. This form must be approved, as many times the council already has an established relationship with a potential donor or a relationship is being cultivated. In many cases, more donations will be granted if the council exhibits a unified effort in making a collaborative “ask.”

2.     After approval of the solicitation request, the troop/group must report back to the Fund Development Department on the result of each request. All in-kind donations must be reported to the Fund Development Department on the Gift In-Kind form for proper recording and council acknowledgement.

Troop/Group Receiving Monetary Donations

1.     A troop/group may not solicit cash donations from community organizations, corporations, or businesses.

2.     In efforts to build a broader base of individual support and corporate partners through the help of our Girl Scout friends and families, donations designated to a troop/group will be considered tax deductible and passed through to the intended troop/group when the gift is made to Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois accompanied by written instructions to be used for the specific troop/group. All gifts will be acknowledged and a check request will be initiated to pass the donation to the specified troop/group via check to the troop. This process may take up to 14 business days from receipt of donation.

3.     In some circumstances, troops/groups may be permitted to seek support from a corporate or grant funder for a specific project (for example, a local “Youth Engaged in Philanthropy” grant designed to support youth service projects). The troop/group seeking support must contact the Fund Development Department to discuss the potential opportunity and must coordinate with the Fund Development Department to submit their request. If the troop/group receives funding, they will also be required to advise the GSNI Fund Development Department of their responsibilities for fulfilling funder requirements. The troop will also need to stay in communication with the Fund Development Department regarding the project’s progress and any required reports to the funder.

Other Ways to Give

Employer Matching Gifts

1.     Many employers offer a matching gift program to employees who make a financial donation to a non-profit organization. If you have made a gift to Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, speak to your employer (often handled through the Human Resources Department) about the matching gift policies at your place of employment. The Fund Development Department is available to assist in this process.

2.     Many employers also offer a matching volunteer program where the employer will make a financial donation on behalf of their employee for the time they have volunteered with a non-profit organization. If your employer participates in this type of program, speak to your Human Resources Department to verify the process for applying for this match program. The Fund Development Department is available to assist in this process.

Girl Scout Giving

1.     Girl Scouts may not raise or solicit money for other organizations on behalf of Girl Scouts.

2.     If the girls from your troop/group have all voted and agreed, they may contribute a portion of their troop/group treasury to an organization whose projects they consider worthwhile on a limited basis. The funds used should not take away from the overall activities of the troop/group throughout the Girl Scout year. Some examples would be to help other Girl Scouts, local community or international community service projects, or environmental projects.

Girl Scout Council Annual Giving Campaign

Thanks to the generous support of Girl Scout alumnae, friends, and the community, Girl Scouting continues its long-standing tradition of helping today’s girls build the character and skills needed to become tomorrow’s leaders. When we invest in Girl Scouting, we invest in the future of our girls. The Girl Scout Annual Giving Campaign provides for many of the important support services to girls, leaders, and other volunteers of Girl Scouting.

Donations through Registration

The annual registration fee paid for membership in the Girl Scouts is paid to Girl Scouts of the USA and does not stay within our local council. It is the responsibility of all Girl Scouts to support Girl Scouting personally and to encourage others to support Girl Scouting by making a contribution through the Family Partnership Campaign. Each year, Girl Scout families are asked to help support the council through this campaign. This campaign assists the council in keeping Girl Scouts relevant in our communities, provides financial assistance to girls who could otherwise not afford to be a part of Girl Scouts, provides financial assistance to girls attending summer camp, helps with maintaining our camp properties and resource enters, and provides volunteer training. Together, we can provide the financial support to build girls of courage, confidence, and character through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for all girls in Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois!

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