I recently wrote about Girl Scout Cookies on WalletPop, a consumer finance blog that I write for. I became interested in the topic after reading on a random website that Girl Scout cookies are a scam. In essence, the writer on that random site was arguing that the Girl Scout troops receive only a tiny portion of money from the cookie sales, while the national office and the baking companies are living large thanks to the efforts of young girls.
I had a great experience selling Girl Scout Cookies when I was young, and so I hoped to be able to write an article that would encourage people to buy the cookies. And after doing my research, I was happy that the facts supported my belief that the whole cookie drive is not just a modern form of indentured servitude for little girls.
Here are the facts: In addition to raising much-needed funds for camps and activities, the sale of Girl Scout Cookies is meant to be a learning experience for the girls. The girls are supposed to sell the cookies, with assistance from adults when it’s needed. The parents and troop leaders aren’t supposed to do all the work. If they do, the girls aren’t learning.
The sale of Girl Scout Cookies has a huge local impact. Each geographic region decides exactly how much to sell their boxes of cookies for, with the typical price in the range of $3.50 to $4.00. There are areas which sell them for much more, but the norm is in the $4.00 range.
The amount of money the troops receive from the sale of each box varies, but is often in the 50 to 60 cent range. In one area, a box sells for $3.50, and troops receive at least 55 cents per box; more if they meet certain sales targets. In another area, a box sells for $4.00 and the troops receive at least 60 cents per box. These troops are getting 15% to 16% of the sales price, which seems like a reasonable profit. If you’ve analyzed a lot of businesses, you’ll know that after the cost of labor, ingredients, packaging, marketing, and administration of the program… a 15% profit doesn’t sound too bad.
According to the Girl Scouts website, all of the profits from the cookie sales (after paying the bakers and administrative costs) stay in the geographic areas in which the cookies were sold. So typically, the remaining profits will go to the local organization that oversees all the troops, and that money is usually used for camps and other activities for the girls.
Kudos to the Girl Scouts for running this successful fundraiser for decades. Say what you will about the cookies… I love them. Yes, the portions are small, but I don’t care. I support the organization and what it does for little girls, pre-teens, and teenagers. The Girl Scout Cookie drive is a worthwhile program both in dollars and cents, and as a learning tool for the girls.