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finances

Financing the Fun

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. 

Money earned by the girls is for the benefit of all girls in the troop and should be spent in the year the funds are earned, unless the troop has a long-term plan for spending the funds. It is important to note that the funds belong to the troop as a whole. Per IRS guidelines for charitable organizations, troops are prohibited from keeping individual girl accounts. All funds expended should benefit all girls in the troop.

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Top Troop Expenses

 

  • TopTroopExpenses_MembershipDues

    Membership Fee
    Annual fee paid to our national organization to cover cost of fundamental services and accidental insurance

  • TopTroopExpenses_MeetingSupplies

    Meeting Supplies
    Markers, paper, scissors, tape, glue sticks, snacks

  • TopTroopExpenses_Uniforms

    Uniforms
    A simple sash, insignia, and badges earned throughout the year

  • TopTroopExpenses_Events

    Events
    World Thinking Day, cookie rallies, community- and council-sponsored events

  • TopTroopExpenses_ServiceProjects

    Service Projects
    Girls do service projects meaningful to them, like baking holiday treats for kids in homeless shelters

  • TopTroopExpenses_Overnights

    Overnights
    Troop trips, troop camping, Troop Adventure Camp


Top Troop Funding Sources

Once the girls have decided what they want to do throughout the year, they need to figure out how to pay for it! There are three main ways you can fund your Girl Scout adventures:

Fall Product and Cookie Programs

Girls can participate in two council-sponsored Product Programs each year: the Fall Product Program and the Girl Scout Cookie Program. A troop’s primary money-earning activity should be the Girl Scout Cookie Program (however, it is not a requirement).

All girl members, including Girl Scout Daisies and Juliettes (individually registered members), are eligible to participate in council-sponsored Product Programs with volunteer supervision. Please remember: volunteers and Girl Scout council staff don’t sell cookies and other products—girls do.

Money-Earning Activities

Outside of the two Girl Scout Product Programs, troops can participate in their own money-earning activities! However, these money-earning projects cannot take place during either of the Product Programs.

Troop money-earning projects need written approval from the council before a group money-earning activity. Submit the Group Money Earning and Project Funding Approval Form to your community development manager.

There are a few specific guidelines—some required by the Internal Revenue Service—that ensure that sales are conducted with legal and financial integrity. To that end, consider the following reminders and cautions:

  • All rewards earned by girls through 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 sale ranges set by councils and may not be based on a dollar-per-dollar calculation.
  • Girls cannot participate in games of chance, pledge events (including walk-a-thons), and product demonstration parties.
  • The Girl Scout 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 Girl Scout Fall Product Program products through participation in council-approved product program donation programs like Cookies for a Cause. gswo.org/bluebook
  • Girl Scouts forbids the use of the Girl Scout trademark to increase revenue for another business (for example: in-home product parties). Any business using the Girl Scout trademark must seek authorization from GSUSA.
  • Troop/group money-earning activities need to be suited to the age 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 Program. Funds acquired through group money-earning projects must be reported and accounted for by the group, while following council procedures.
  • Decisions about how money will be earned and spent should be made by the girls in the troop and communicated in writing to parents/caregivers.
  • No account may be set up in a girl’s name that is replenished through troop funding efforts or donations. No matter what accounting method is used, money earned by girls in Girl Scouting is the property of the troop.
  • Money donated to the troop may not personally benefit one member of the troop.
  • In order to ensure compliance with IRS and audit guidelines, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has specific policies regarding donations and grants from individuals and organizations to Girl Scouts groups or service units. Please refer to Volunteer Essentials for more information. 

For ideas about additional money earning, review the Finances section in Volunteer Essentials or brainstorm ideas with your service team or community development manager.

Troop Dues

Troop dues are an option for troops to cover the costs of snacks, supplies, and other materials used by the girls at regular meetings and girl activities. Troop dues are meant to supplement Cookie and Fall Product Program activities. No girl shall be denied membership in a troop or have her participation restricted based on an inability to pay troop dues.

When setting the amount of troop dues, the fees should be decided on by all members, with consideration given to the income levels of all of the girls in the group. Any collected troop dues should be documented and deposited into the troop account within 3 days of collection.

For example, to lower troop dues, host a troop birthday party for your first meeting to collect supplies. Girls bring supplies as "birthday presents," and everyone opens them up during the party. Instead of asking the parents for supplies regularly, you can build a stockpile up front.


Girls' participation in both council-sponsored Product Program activities and group money-earning projects is based upon the following:

  • Voluntary participation
  • Parent/caregiver permission to participate
  • 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 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 (see safety section in Volunteer Essentials for guidance)
  • Arrangements for safeguarding the money

Opening Your Troop Checking Account

New troops are required to establish the troop checking account within 30 days of first troop meeting with girls. This will allow troops to be prepared when there is money to deposit from troop dues, product programs, or troop money-earning activities. The council’s recommended bank for troop accounts is Fifth Third Bank (exceptions include the following: Champaign, Clinton, Fulton, Hardin, Henry, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams and Ohio County in Indiana. If you are in one of these counties and need help identifying a Girl Scout friendly bank, please contact your community development manager).

Benefits of banking with Fifth Third Bank include: free checking, no minimum opening deposit requirement, free debit cards, electronic monthly statements, starter checks, and ATM usage. Our partnership allows us to manage financial resources more efficiently and does not require volunteers to have a third signer on the account. Troops that do not elect to use electronic bank statements will be charged a $3 a month fee for paper statements.


Record Keeping & Budgeting

One critical task for each troop is to keep excellent records and establish a clear accounting system for all money earned and spent. As a troop leader or troop assistant, you’re in charge of making sure money is spent wisely, excellent records are kept (keeping copies of all receipts in a binder or folder), and all income and expenses are tracked.

When planning your expenses at the beginning of the year, download the Troop Budget template! It’s hosted on Google Sheets, but you’re welcome to download it as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet if that’s more comfortable for you. This blog post walks you through how to use it.

It is required to keep records (receipts, bank statements, and finance reports) for a minimum of two years. You can use our Troop Finance Tracking Sheet to track your troop's income and expenses throughout the membership year.

Things to Consider in Troop Finance Record Keeping
  • All troop money earned and received needs to be appropriately secured, should be deposited into the troop account within three days of receipt, and should never be held in a personal checking account.
  • Anytime the troop spends or receives money or money exchanges hands for any reason, a receipt should be provided and kept on record.
  • It is critical that all authorized signers are in communication with each other before spending funds in the account to cover the amount of the transaction before writing a check or making a purchase with a debit card. This will safeguard against overdrawn accounts and bouncing checks.
  • Take into consideration delays in posting transactions to the account in the banking system.
  • All troop expenses should be paid for with a troop check or the troop debit card.
  • Blank checks should never be pre-signed and debit cards should never be used by anyone other than the person they are issued to and only for troop expenses.
  • Cash withdrawals should only be made if absolutely necessary—e.g. cookie booth change, tips for taxi or hotel services. Anything paid or purchased with cash must be documented with a receipt.
  • Volunteers who have paid out of pocket for troop expenses cannot reimburse themselves. Reimbursement may only come from the other signer on the account when a receipt is provided showing the expense.
  • Funds acquired for money-earning projects must be reported and accounted for by the troop, while following all council policies and procedures.

Required Financial Forms for Troops

There are two financial forms that all troops are required to complete each year:

Troop Finance Report

All Girl Scout troops are required to submit information regarding the troop’s finances annually as part of the appointment and reappointment process. All troops, including new troops, must complete a final Troop Finance Report and submit a copy of their bank statement by June 30 each year. The Troop Finance Report can be accessed, completed, and submitted through the VTK Finance Tab.

Having a Troop Financial Report on file that includes names of two registered and approved volunteer signers is required for:

  • Reappointment of the troop leaders
  • Approval of troop trip forms
  • Participation in the Girl Scout Product Programs
  • Access to financial assistance

The annual Troop Finance Report is due:

  • By June 30 of each year
  • Within 30 days of disbanding a troop
Bank Information Form

Separate from the Troop Finance Report, all troops are required to submit a Bank Information Form each year. New troops must complete the form within 30 days of opening a troop checking account, and returning troops should complete it at the beginning of each Girl Scout year.

The information submitted in this form enables GSWO to complete electronic financial transfers to and from troops, including refunds, financial assistance, and cookie proceeds.

The GSWO Bank Information Form must be completed:

  • Within 30 days of opening a new checking account
  • Annually when submitting the Troop Finance Report
  • When there are changes to the troop account, e.g. new signers