Your Girl Scout troop will 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.
Remember that all funds collected, raised, earned, or otherwise received in the name of and for the benefit of Girl Scouting belong to the troop and must be used for the purposes of Girl Scouting. Funds are administered through the troop and do not belong to individuals.
No matter how much your troop plans to save or spend, you’ll need a safe place to deposit your troop dues, product program 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 you can take to the bank:
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 and make sure another troop volunteer has 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.
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 member. 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 Scout activities. Activities can also include purchasing materials to support another organization through Take Action projects.
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.
Troops flex their financial muscles in two distinct ways:
The Girl Scout Cookie Program and other product sales of Girl Scouts (authorized product sales such as calendars, magazines, or nuts and candy) organized by your council. All girl members are eligible to participate in two council-sponsored product program activities each year with volunteer supervision—the Girl Scout Cookie Program and one other council-authorized product program. 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.
Girls’ participation in both council-sponsored product program activities and group money-earning projects is based on the following:
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.
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.
All rewards earned by girls through the product program 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 programs as their primary money-earning activity; any group money earning shouldn’t compete with the Girl Scout Cookie Program or other council product programs.
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 program 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 Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
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 according to council procedures.
Sample Money-Earning Activities
Cell phones for refurbishment
Used ink cartridges turned in for money
Christmas tree recycling
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-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 programs are designed to unleash the entrepreneurial potential in your girls. From there, your troop may decide to earn additional funds on its own.
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 program activities. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to facilitate girl-led financial planning, which may include the following steps for the girls:
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 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.
Local sponsors can help councils power innovative programs for Girl Scouts. 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, which 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.
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 themselves as Girl Scouts by 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 are 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. A commercial product 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.
Due to tax law changes effective January 1, 2022, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) updated its policies for troop/group/service unit bank accounts and the use of Third-Party Service Organizations (TSO) such as Pay Pal, Venmo, Square (etc.) for volunteers.
Using Personal Money Payment Apps:
Note that you may receive a 1099-K for payments collected for Product Program sales or other parental payments (dues, events, etc.) for your troop from a third-party payment organization such as Square, Venmo, Pay Pal, etc. when using a personal account.
Volunteers may choose to use a personal money payment app, such as a Venmo account they use for multiple purposes, and they would receive a 1099-K if the total amount paid to them from all sources equals $600 or more in a calendar year. The volunteer has the option to identify the money is not for a sale of products and is a reimbursement; however, this does not preclude them receiving a 1099-K.
If a volunteer or troop parent is using their personal money payment app, we recommend they indicate Girl Scout related payments are ‘reimbursements’ and keep separate records to verify these amounts, should they be issued a 1099-K. Additionally, they should consult their tax advisor when preparing their personal tax return.
If you need further guidance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2009–2022 Girl Scouts of the United States of America. All rights reserved. All information and material contained in Girl Scouts’ Volunteer Essentials guide (“Material”) is provided by Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) and is intended to be educational material solely to be used by Girl Scout volunteers and council staff. Reproduction, distribution, compiling, or creating derivative works of any portion of the Material or any use other than noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law is prohibited, unless explicit, prior authorization by GSUSA in writing was granted. GSUSA reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit, or discontinue the Material at any time without notice.