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.
Many troops ask a parent to act as the volunteer “troop treasurer”. This can be a great way to involve a parent who wants to be active with the troop but whose schedule is restricted because of work or other obligations. After selecting a bank, the troop leader should request a Troop Bank Authorization letter to take to the bank to open the account. This usually happens when there is money to deposit, such as group dues or money from product program or group money-earning activities.
Parents may be asked to contribute to a troop or group treasury in the following ways:
New troops or groups may ask parents to donate a one-time startup fee when the troop begins meeting (up to a maximum of $25). Membership MAY NOT BE DENIED based on the inability to pay the start-up fee.
•Group dues are the monies girls contribute to help fund their group’s activities or meeting needs. Dues are typically $2 -$5 per meeting. Girls and parents together decide upon the amount and frequency of dues. No girl is denied membership based on an inability to pay group dues.
Families should know girls are expected to participate in troop money-earning activities to help fund troop activities.
Parents may be asked (but not required) to contribute a maximum of $5 per girl per year in local service unit dues to provide for copying charges, mailing and other costs associated with providing local service to troop leaders.
Each family is asked to donate $35 toward the GSGATL Annual Fund. Troop leaders should collect donations for the Annual Fund, deposit them in the troop bank account, and either mail a check to Council, make a donation online via our Website, or via MyGS. Troop leaders should indicate which families have contributed so that an acknowledgement letter can be issued to the parent, and the troop and service unit receive credit toward their Annual Fund goal. Contact email@example.com to provide instructions on allocation of donations. Membership will not be denied based on an inability to contribute to the Annual Fund. Families may also donate directly via our Website, or via their MyGS accounts.
Troop/group and personal funds must not be co-mingled. Troop/group funds cannot be borrowed for personal use, even if repaid. Troops that do not meet during the summer are allowed to keep (carryover) $100 per girl in their checking account without submitting a detailed program plan to GSGATL. Troop leaders are required to submit a Troop Finance Report Form to the girls’ parents or guardians two times a year. Troop leaders are required to submit the following to their Service Unit Director by June 15 annually:
A Troop Finance Report may also be generated using the Finance Tab in Volunteer Tool Kit.
Follow GSGATL’s financial policies and procedures for managing troop accounts as found in GSGATL’s Volunteer Policies & Procedures.
Online Group Payment Systems:
GSGATL has created a partnership with Cheddar Up to support troops and service units to collect group payments. Troop leaders can learn about Cheddar Up and establish an account by visiting the Cheddar Up website via this link. GSGATL receives no financial or other compensation or benefits for offering Cheddar Up and is working with Cheddar Up to offer this service to make collecting payments easier for both leaders and parents.
Use of a PayPal, Venmo, or CASH App account:
Troops should be aware that these online systems are not banks and are not controlled by any banking laws. GSGATL recommends that troop funds be held in a bank which is insured by the FDIC.
Annual Troop/Group Finance Report
The volunteer troop/group treasurer, in partnership with the girls in the group (Juniors and older), must prepare a Finance Report and distribute it to each family in the troop a minimum of two (2) times a year. Full disclosure of the troop finances two times per year insures transparency and that all family members of the troop are informed of the troop’s income and expenses; this practice should alleviate any concerns about troop finances from the parents. A copy should be given to the Service Unit Director. The final year- end financial report should include the most recent bank statement by June 15.
Discrepancies/Mismanagement of Funds
If there is a discrepancy with the troop/group funds:
The troop leader, assistant leader and volunteer treasurer will meet to determine the problem and resolve it.
If the problem is not resolved, a Service Unit Director will be contacted. A GSGATL staff person will meet with the troop volunteers and determine accountability.
Girls, parents and troop volunteers must make the decision as to what action, if any, will be taken should there be mismanagement of funds.
The troop volunteers will be responsible for pursuing any legal action if that is the decision of the troop.
Addition of a Troop Member
Since funds belong to the troop or group as a whole, and never to individual members, when a new member joins, she benefits from those funds equally with the other members. If this is a recently organized troop, where other families have been asked to contribute a start-up fee, the new member’s family should be asked as well. (Remember: membership cannot be denied a girl whose family cannot pay.) What if a group has been working for several years to earn money for an extended trip and a new member joins close to departure time? In this case, if it’s possible to accommodate another traveler (tickets, hotel rooms, etc. must be considered) it’s acceptable to invite the new girl to join the trip by paying her own way. If travel arrangements can’t be changed to include her, the girl could be given the option to join the troop after the trip or join another troop if one exists.
Troop Member Transfers
When a girl leaves a troop, for whatever reason, she relinquishes any claim on money she helped earn for the troop. However, when a girl is bridging or transferring to another troop, the original troop may, as a gesture of good will and sisterhood, divide a pro rata share per girl and make a donation to the receiving troop on the transferring member’s behalf. This is solely at the troop’s discretion. In all cases, if a donation is made, a check should be written directly to the receiving troop. At no time are funds to be paid to an individual girl or volunteer.
When a troop disbands, any unused Girl Scout money left in the account becomes the property of the GSGATL. Troop funds are not the property of any individual girl. It is our practice, however, to allow girls to vote on what to do with troop funds. Before disbanding, ask your girls how they want to pay it forward: they may decide to:
Donated to the troop’s service unit to benefit its program activities or projects.
Donated to GSGATL to support troops/members with financial hardships.
Donated to GSGATL’s Annual Fund to fund our general operations. (GSGATL underwrites an average of $325 per member per year.)
Donated to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.
Donated to a local charity whose mission is in keeping with Girl Scout principles.
The final Troop Finance Report must indicate how the funds were distributed. The group leader signs the final report and submits it to the Service Unit Director with a copy of the most recent bank statement.
Be sure Girl Scout families understand these key points:
Girl Scout troops should be self-supporting; they should not rely on funding from the girls’ families.
Girls, parents, and sponsors should know where troop funds come from and how they are spent.
Girl Scout Daisies do participate in Council-sponsored product program activities!
Troop funds do not belong to individual girls, only to the troop as a whole.
Girls earn money only for the troop, never for themselves.
Troops may not track individual girl balances within the troop account. Girls may not receive individual credit for funds or the portion of the troop account that resulted from their contributed troop dues or their money earned or product programs program troop proceeds. The IRS requires that 501(c)(3) organizations must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests. The IRS has issued rulings recently that organizations that earmark fundraising for particular members is a non-exempt activity and those organizations may be required to pay unrelated business income tax or lose their tax-exempt status. If you have any question on private benefit or troop account activities, please reach out to your Area Executive.
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.
GSGATL Procedures for Additional Troop Money-Earning
If a troop requires money-earning activities beyond GSGATL product programs for a specific purpose, the following guidelines must be met.
Participate in both product programs (Cookies and Fall Product). New troops that form after one or both product programs may conduct limited money-earning activities if needed to fund planned troop activities.
Support GSGATL’s Annual Fund campaign by asking each family to participate.
Have a current troop finance report on file with GSGATL.
Obtain permission from each participating girl’s parent or guardian before any money-earning activity occurs.
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 part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (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.
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.
Policy 30, “Money Earning for Troops and Service Units”, of GSGATL’s Volunteer Policies and Procedures outlines our council’s requirements for money earning activities.
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.
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