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Girl Scout Cookie Program and Fall Product Program

The Girl Scout Cookie Program and the Girl Scout fall product program are foundational experiences during which girls learn to think like entrepreneurs and to develop vital business skills. As the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, the Girl Scout Cookie Program equips girls with the business smarts they need to take on the world. Plus, Girl Scout Cookie proceeds stay local in your community to power amazing year-round experiences—experiences that broaden their worlds, teach them essential skills, and launch them into a lifetime of leadership. 

Teaching Essential Skills for a Lifetime of Leadership

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls as young as five develop these five essential skills that will help them be successful today and throughout their lives:  

  • Goal setting: Girls learn to create a plan to reach their goals.  
  • Decision making: Girls learn to make decisions on their own and as a team.  
  • Money management: Girls learn to create a budget and handle money.  
  • People skills: Girls find their voice and up their confidence through customer interactions that build relationships.  
  • Business ethics: Girls learn to act responsibly and honestly, both in business and in life.  

But the exciting skill building isn’t just tied to the cookies themselves! Girls of all Girl Scout levels can continue honing their entrepreneurial skills by earning the Cookie Business badges, Cookie Entrepreneur Family pin, and the Financial Literacy badges year over year.

Before your cookie bosses open shop, be sure to check out these helpful troop leader resources that will empower you to:

  • Manage your troop’s funds.
  • Learn how girls participate in money earning.
  • Discover how your troop can reach its financial goals.
  • Plan activities to help her earn cookie pins and badges
  • Understand just how much your girls are capable of by grade level and how their entrepreneurial skills progress
A Sweet Tradition

It has been a century since Girl Scouts began selling home-baked cookies to raise money. The idea was so popular that in 1936 Girl Scouts enlisted bakers to handle the growing demand—and the rest is history. Explore Girl Scout Cookie History  to find out how cookies have helped build generations of female entrepreneurs and leaders who make the world a better place. 

Where Cookie Proceeds Go

After paying for the cost of cookies and materials, local councils use Girl Scout Cookie proceeds to help provide Girl Scout programs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the outdoors, life skills, entrepreneurship, and more—in camps, through leadership training, and multiple other ways. A portion of the proceeds is directly managed by girls, and it’s up to them to decide how to invest their troop’s share of the earnings.

Your council will provide a breakdown of how cookie program proceeds support Girl Scout activities locally. Please share this information with girls and their families so everyone understands that product program sales make it possible for your Girl Scout council to serve girls.

Troop members share in the proceeds from a successful product program; proceeds aren’t distributed to individual girl members. Girls, however, may be eligible for rewards and credits that they put toward council-sponsored camps, programs, and Girl Scout swag. The council plan for rewards applies equally to all girls participating in the product program activity. Visit the cookie section of your council website for more information about individual rewards and troop proceeds locally.

The Girl Scout Blue Book of Basic Documents specifies that:

“All money and other assets, including property, that are raised, earned, or otherwise received in the name of and for the benefit of Girl Scouting must be held and authorized by a Girl Scout council or Girl Scouts of the USA. Such money and other assets must be used for the purposes of Girl Scouting.” 
—“ Ownership of Assets,” Blue Book of Basic Documents (April 2020), page 21

Making s’mores under the stars, creating a lasting impact on your community, or ordering supplies for an eye-opening STEM project—there are limitless ways to put troop proceeds toward dynamic Girl Scout experiences! There are a few things, however, that don’t qualify for “purposes of Girl Scouting,” for instance, using troop proceeds to purchase memberships in or uniforms for another organization. We encourage all councils to remind their volunteers of this policy in order to protect the all-girl environment and to avoid diversion of Girl Scout funds.

Your Council’s Role

When you are set up for success, you are better able to set up your girls for success! That’s why every year, your council provides trainings, guidelines, and procedures for conducting the Girl Scout Cookie Program and fall product program, and determines how the proceeds and product rewards system will be managed. Check the cookie section of your council’s website to find the answers you need as well as information about local trainings and resources. 

Each council also selects the vendors of its choice to provide the products for their product programs. Two commercial bakers are licensed by GSUSA to produce Girl Scout Cookies: Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers. For additional information on cookie varieties, including nutritional details, visit the Meet the Cookies section on girlscoutcookies.org. 

Councils also work with vendors to offer magazine subscriptions, nut and candy products, and more for the fall product program. These companies are Ashdon FarmsTrophy NutQSP/GAO and M2 Media group. Each provides online tools and activities for girls to download. Magazine selection and sales may take place online—check with your council for more details.

Your Role

You play an exciting role in giving your girls opportunities to practice the five skills as they learn how to think like entrepreneurs in a girl-led setting. Some of the things you’ll do include: 

  • Get girls excited about the opportunities to support her troop (but allowing her participation to be voluntary).
  • Support both competitive and apprehensive cookie bosses, helping all your girls set meaningful goals for themselves. 
  • Fostering partnerships with each girl’s family to ensure cookie season success, whatever that may look like for her. Check out the Creating Cookie Success and Coaching Your Budding Businesswoman resources that will help you build a positive partnership with girls and families. 

Not only can girls sell individually, both in person and with the online tools provided by each vendor, they can also participate in group booth sales during product programs. Your local council has additional guidance and processes to market booths and ensure they are situated in safe and appropriate locations for girls

As your girls grow, your role will evolve from a hands-on one to providing oversight and support where needed. No matter your girls’ ages, remember that volunteers and parents/caregivers do not sell the product. Your role is to encourage your girls and let their entrepreneurial spirit soar. Learning by doing is exactly how your girls develop the business savvy and communication skills that will empower them to reach any goals they set for themselves.

Another critical task for each troop is to establish a clear accounting system for all proceeds and product during the programs. It's up to you to make sure that money is spent wisely, that excellent records are kept (remember to keep copies of all receipts in a binder or folder), and that all product is tracked. For older girls, your job is to oversee their work as they learn to keep impeccable records. Be sure to attend product program orientation or training so you are aware of the systems and helpful tools available.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program and the fall product program can be exhilarating and busy times during the troop year, but you’re never alone in your efforts! You can reach out to your service unit product program manager when you‘re feeling stuck, or you can build a cookie team to provide the support your troop needs. 

Product Program Safety

Girl safety is the top priority while selling Girl Scout Cookies and other products. Volunteers, families, and girls should be familiar with and practice the safety guidelines outlined in local program resources as well as those available in the troop leader resources section of girlscouts.org.

Selling Cookies Online
Will your troop use the Digital Cookie® platform to manage its cookie business? Check the specific guidelines provided by each cookie vendor before participating. Before girls use their Digital Cookie or Smart Cookie site, they should partner with their families to learn how to safely run their business online.

Girls may use the internet to share their cookie program sales links, stories, and learning, while keeping in mind the following guidelines:   

  • The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a girl-led program, so online marketing and sales efforts should always be led by a girl while being supervised by her parent/s or caregiver/s. 
  • Girls engaging in online sales and marketing must review and apply our Digital Marketing Tips for Cookie Entrepreneurs and Their Families
  • Girls, volunteers, and parents must review and adhere to the Girl Scout Internet Safety PledgeDigital Cookie PledgeSupplemental Safety Tips for Online Marketing, and Girl Scouts’ safety activity checkpoints for computer/internet use and cookie/product sales (with the exception that they may share their sales link beyond friends and family). 
  • Sales links should never be posted to online resale sites (eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Swap, etc.). 
  • Be aware that Facebook posts containing “$” may automatically move the post to Facebook Marketplace. To prevent this from occurring, you must disable the automated function (see Facebook for guidance).       
  •  Social media ads should not be purchased or donated to promote sales links.   
  • To protect their identity, girls should consider using only the first letter of their last names or omitting their last names altogether on social media sites. 
  • Girls and their families must adhere to all terms and conditions on the Digital Cookie and Smart Cookie platforms. For a copy of the terms and conditions, please contact GSUSA, ABC, or M2 as needed. 
  • GSUSA reserves the right to remove or disable the link for any reason including violation of guidance, inventory fulfillment issues, safety issues, or if sales and marketing activity goes viral and otherwise creates unanticipated disruption.
  •  Parents, girls, and volunteers should contact and collaborate with their councils and GSUSA in advance of any national news media opportunities tied to girls’ online marketing and sales efforts.
  • Note that GSUSA reserves the right to remove or disable sales links for any reason, including violation of guidance, inventory fulfillment issues, safety issues, or if sales and marketing activity goes viral and otherwise creates unanticipated disruption.          

Additionally, families, girls, and volunteers should contact and collaborate with their councils and GSUSA in advance on any national news media opportunities tied to girls’ online marketing and sales efforts.

The Buddy System
Using the buddy system, girls are divided into teams of two. Each girl is responsible for staying with her buddy at all times, warning her buddy of danger, giving her buddy immediate assistance if safe to do so, and seeking help if needed. Girls are encouraged to stay near the group or buddy with another team of two so that in the event someone is injured, one person cares for the patient while two others seek help.

Preparing for Your Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Cookie booths—that is, cookie pop-up sales in areas with lots of foot traffic—are a fun way for girls to connect with their community and practice their sales pitch with new customers. Booth locations must be approved by councils and facilitated within council jurisdiction, and participants must follow all council guidelines with regard to setting up, running, and taking down a booth.

Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi Cookie Program Manager and Chairs secure permission for all Walmart’s, Lowe’s, and Kroger’s. Distribution for those locations is done during your January and/or February service unit meeting. For sites other than those listed above, you may request permission to sell cookies. Work through your Service Unit Cookie Chair so that only one contact is connecting with that business or establishment.

Create a great cookie booth experience for your girls by: 

  • Using your best judgment in setting up cookie booths in locations that will be open, accessible, and safe for all girls and potential customers.  
  • Choosing a high traffic area—this could be your local supermarket, mall, or park—where you’ll maximize the number of visitors to your booth.  
  • Checking out your booth site ahead of the sale. Talk to business owners in the area so they’ll know what to expect. Find out what security measures are in place—these may include lights for evening sales and whether a security camera watches the booth area—and where the nearest bathrooms are located. 
  • Respecting the surrounding businesses by making sure your booth isn’t blocking a store entrance or exit. 
  • Encouraging your girls to unleash their creativity—and work on their advertising skills—to make colorful signs and booth decorations that potential customers can’t resist! Remind girls to be polite and to have their sales pitch ready for interested customers. 

And keep in mind: 

  • A minimum of two volunteers (at least one of whom is a registered Girl Scout volunteer with the required background check) and one girl should be present at the booth at all times. With two or more volunteers, you’ll have adequate booth coverage if the girls need to be accompanied to the restroom. 
  • If your Daisies are still learning how to make correct change, help them handle money as needed. But remember that girls make all sales at the booth! 
  • Changing your cookie booth hours or location? Keep your customers in the loop and update your baker’s Digital Cookie system with the new details. All scheduled booths are available on the Cookie Finder App (IOS or  Android). 
  • Certain locations may be inappropriate for young girls based on the standards of your local community, may negatively impact the cookie program experience for girls, and/or may negatively impact our brand in your community. For additional clarity, girls should not sell in or in front of establishments that they themselves cannot legally patronize.  
  • Additionally, with respect to marijuana dispensaries, we have been steadfastly combating the unauthorized uses of the Girl Scout trademark by the cannabis community, which has been marketing—without our authorization—certain cannabis products under our youth-appealing brand. We are continuing to aggressively fight these unauthorized uses of the Girl Scout brand and hope that our councils and volunteers will join Girl Scouts of the USA’s efforts by discouraging cookie booth locations at such locations.  

For more tips to make your booth a success, check out our Cookie Booth Essentials. For additional information about setting up a booth and safety and security suggestions, consult your council guidelines

If you encounter an incident or have an accident, please follow the procedures in the incident reporting guide.

Cookie Donation Programs

Cookies also help girls make a big impact in their community! Your council may have an established cookie donation program where customers can purchase cookies that will be donated to an organization by your council. Cookie donations are not only a great talking point for girls to share with their customers—they’re also a thoughtful way to show girls how cookies can help them give back. 

With cookie donations, remember that: 

  • All cookie donation programs must be approved by your council. 
  • Donated cookies must stay within the council jurisdiction unless your council has the approval from other council jurisdictions.  
  • Donated products cannot be resold and must be used in a responsible and ethical way. 
  • Donated products are used in a way that does not undermine the work of councils or jeopardize the integrity of the Girl Scout brand.  
Handling Product Complaints

Girl Scout Cookies are well loved and for good reason—it has always been the practice of Girl Scout councils and the bakers to guarantee customer satisfaction with their delicious cookies. If a customer is not satisfied with the quality of their cookies for some reason, they can contact the baker via the phone number printed on the side of the cookie package.

Troops should notify their council if they are aware of any customer dissatisfaction.

Recognizing Cookie Sellers in the Media

The Girl Scout Cookie Program has always been about and focused on the program outcomes through which girls learn important entrepreneurial and life skills and invest their earnings to positively affect their local communities. The cookie program has never been about and does not focus on individual girls’ sales results. 

  • There are many impressive cookie bosses throughout the United States, and the Girl Scout organization will continue to recognize dynamic cookie sellers for various achievements tied to the Girl Scout Cookie Program.  
  • Girl Scouts of the USA does not currently track the top seller(s) of Girl Scout Cookies on a national level and does not identify a specific Girl Scout as the number one or “record-breaking” national cookie seller. 
  • Girl Scout councils should not reference such girls as “top sellers” in the media. Doing so detracts from the essence of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which is based on offering girls important experiences in entrepreneurship, business, and finance from a young age as well as providing girls and local Girl Scout councils with the funds necessary to power amazing experiences and opportunities for Girl Scouts year-round.