A major decision every leader faces is "Should your Girl Scout troop sell Girl Scout Cookies?"
The Girl Scouts of the USA are very strict about fundraising. Unlike the Boy Scouts, who have much looser rules about everything, the GSUSA has many rules and regulations about how a troop can fundraise. In order to do any additional fundraising for your troop, you must participate in the fall nut and magazine fundraiser and the Girl Scout cookie sale before you can raise any additional funds.
Photo by Hannah Gold
Deciding if your troop should sell cookies is the leader's decision. Along with her co-leaders, she needs to decide what the goals and visions are for your group. Do you see yourself doing low-key and free activities locally or do you want to travel abroad in the future? Do you want take several field trips a year to horseback ride or go see a play, or will a trip to the library or local craft store for a class be more your style?
The age of your girls is also important to consider. The older the girls, the more involved they can be with the decision making about cookie sales. The thrill may be gone for older girls and younger girls may start out full of excitement and then fizzle out with boredom.
If you decide not to sell cookies, then you will need to explain to the girls in your troop and the parents why. You will be surprised that most parents are relieved not to have help sell the cookies! Remember, selling any product with your troop is an optional activity. You can raise the troop's yearly dues and look for sales on craft materials and recycle household goods to make crafts. There are a lot of ideas available on the internet and at your monthly Leader meeting.
If you have decided that your troop is going to sell Girl Scout cookies, then first thing the troop leader has to do is find a reliable volunteer to be your Cookie Mom or Dad. This parent is responsible for everything from pick-up, swapping cartons, and making additional trips to the Cookie Depot for more cartons of Thin Mints, Samoas and other brands. If the wrong person volunteers, it can cause a great deal of stress for the troop leader, who is ultimately responsible for the cookie sale.
Another thing to bear in mind is to keep it non-competitive. The one flaw I find with achievement awards when selling products is that the girls are given awards for cookies that they did not sell. It is one thing for the girls to spend a few hours in front of the supermarket selling Girl Scout cookies and get proper credit; it is another to have Mom, Dad, and any other family member sell on their behalf and the girl gets the credit. This, in my opinion, is teaching false values. You should not get credit for work that you did not do.
In addition, leaders should never assign cookie selling minimums to girls in their troop. Some parents are self-employed, some unemployed and some do not wish to bother others to buy something from their kid. Going door-to-door is time consuming, and considering the amount the troop gets for each sale, parents may feel that their free time on the weekend is better spent elsewhere.
The ultimate decision of whether or not to have your Girl Scout troop sell Girl Scout cookies is entirely up to the leader. No matter what you decide, be prepared for someone to say something about it. And if they do, ask them to be the Cookie Parent next year.