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.
Troops must complete a Bank Account Information Form and submit to the council no later than 2 weeks after the account has been established. Troops with funds totaling greater than $100 are required to open a Troop Checking Account.
When completing an IRS Form W-9 at the financial institution, use the volunteer’s name, home address and troop bank account number.
In Part I, use the Council's Federal Tax Identification Number: 62-0502197
In Part II, check the box for "not subject to withholding…"
In Tennessee, all materials and food purchased by a Girl Scout troop/group are exempt from sales tax, if the troop/group has a Tennessee Sales Tax Exemption Certificate and makes purchases with a troop/group check or check card with the troop/group name and number on it. (The name of the council, "Girl Scouts Heart of the South" must appear on the check or check card for sales tax exemption to be used.)
The Tennessee Sales Tax Exemption packet contains an application, instructions for completing and copies of the Council Charter and IRS 501(c)(3) letter, which must accompany each application. Information on two individuals, including social security numbers, are required to apply. After application is received by the state it takes approximately three weeks to receive your exemption form. You may also apply in person to the location located on Appling in Memphis. Originals should be kept with troop records and copies produced to provide to Council Shop and local stores/restaurants to receive tax exemption.
In Mississippi, Girl Scout troops/service units are exempt from paying sales tax per House Bill 369. Troops/service units may use this exemption by producing a copy of the letter from the State Tax Commission and using troop checks that have the council name printed on them. (Girl Scouts Heart of the South) Mississippi State Tax Commission letters are available from each Girl Scout office and on the council website.
Mississippi troops/service units may also apply for a TN Sales Tax Exemption certificate if they do business in Tennessee. Tennessee does not guarantee that Mississippi troops/service units will be granted exemption.
In Arkansas, Girl Scout troop/service units are exempt from paying sales tax in Arkansas. Arkansas does not issue a printed form.
TN and MS Sales tax exemption certificates cannot be used with cash. State guidelines require a troop check or check card associated with the troop bank account.
A disbanded troop is a troop that is no longer meeting, or the troop has not registered for at least 2 months from the expiration date (September 30, annually) of the last membership registration. If a girl or girls decide to leave a troop because she/they want to join another troop, or the parents want to form a new troop, the existing troop is not considered disbanded. Disbanded troops cannot have any remaining girls participating in them. A final Financial Report is to be submitted through the VTK along with a cashier’s check to close out the bank account, a Disbanding Troop Form and the last three bank statements upon disbanding troop.
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.
Turn remaining funds over to the council finance department along with a final troop financial report. The Troop Financial Report is available on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK).
Troops flex their financial muscles in two distinct ways:
The Girl Scout Cookie Program and the Fall Product Program organized by the 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 the Fall 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. Troop Money Earning Activity Request Form must be submitted at least four weeks prior to a planned event.
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 the Fall Product Program.
Obtain written approval from the council before a group money-earning event; Troop Money Earning Activity Request Form must be submitted at least four weeks prior to a planned event.
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 the Fall Product Program are designed to unleash the entrepreneurial potential in your girls. From there, your troop may decide to earn additional funds on its own. Troop Money Earning Activity Request Form must be submitted at least four weeks prior to a troop planned event.
Activities that are NOT allowed for girls:
Individual girls can participate in money earning activities to fund Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Award projects, to attend council-sponsored trips, summer camp and events, or participate in GSUSA Destinations. If a girl changes troops, earned funds transfer with the girl, but does not go to the girl if she leaves Girl Scouts.
Community Service Grants
Girls and troops may apply for grants that support community service work, such as Youth Service America, The Awesome Foundation, Karma for Cara Foundation, and KidsGardening. For assistance or tax documentation, contact the GSHS fund development department.
West TN Kick-Start Funds
Troops living in designated counties of west Tennessee may apply for a West TN Girl Scout Mini-Grant offered by the West TN Community Action Cabinet through the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation. Troops must reside in the following TN counties: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, and Weakley. This Opportunity is Under Revision and Not Available at this Time.
Money Earning by Service Units
Service units may hold money-earning activities for service unit projects and events. It is recommended girls outside the service unit and non-Girl Scouts be invited to participate. Adults involved in planning and hosting a money-earning activity must be registered members of GSUSA and have position agreement, appropriate trainings, and background checks required for their volunteer position. Money Earning Activity Request Form must be submitted at least four weeks prior to a planned event.
Money-earning activities may include:
Money Earning by Adults
Adults may ask for donations of cash, gift cards or supplies from companies that do not exceed a value of $100. Any request over $100 must first be approved by GSHS Fund Development department. Cash gifts over $250, must be made payable to Girl Scouts Heart of the South with a note that the money is designated to the troop or service unit. A check for the full amount will be issued back to the troop or service unit from the council. A Gift Acceptance Form must be completed and submitted to GSHS fund development department at email@example.com.
Adults requesting funds or items must be registered with GSUSA and may not represent the council when making a request - only ask on behalf of the troop or service unit. If the company requests documentation, such as 501(c)(3) or verification of involvement with GSHS, contact the GSHS fund development department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An adult can choose to host a product demonstration party (Pampered Chef, Premier, Avon) or Bunco tournament and make a donation to a troop or service unit, but the event cannot be marketed as a fundraiser for Girl Scouts and girls cannot be involved.
Some companies make charitable donations to organizations where their employees volunteer their time (Kohl’s, Bank of America, Nike, Verizon, Allstate, etc) and/or match cash donations (First Tennessee, GAP, CarMax, Choice Hotels, etc.). Contact the GSHS fund development department at email@example.com if your company requires verification or to discuss how your company’s donation should be designated. Donor designated funds contributed through a United Way campaign will be honored.
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.
Girl Scouts Heart of the South has Community Partner opportunities. Reach out to the appropriate staff person at 1-800-624-4185.
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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