Good Question: Where Does Girl Scout Cookie Money Go?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is Girl Scout cookie season. The cute kid knocks at your door, asking you to spend $3.50 on a box of 28 Thin Mints.

We could find cheaper cookies, but “they’re not as good,” said one man buying cookies at a Girl Scout store at Mall of America.

We know the money is supposed to go to a good cause, but how much money do the scouts actually get?

“The girls keep 21 percent in their pocket,” said Sara Danzinger, communications director at the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.

According to Danzinger, this area was “the No. 1 cookie-seller in the U.S. last year.”

Scouts here sold 5.35 million packages of cookies in 2011. The total revenue was $18,725,854. But not all of that went to the scouts.

Of every $3.50 spent on a box, “we pay the baker 89 cents,” said Danzinger.

The 89 cents covers the cookies, the packaging, and the shipping.

That leaves a profit of $2.61 per box and all of that money (75 percent of the total cost) stays with Girl Scouts as a local council, local troop and prizes for individual scouts.

Ten cents of that profit goes to the incentives and rewards.

“This year, it’s a giraffe theme. You can get notebooks and bags and hats and patches,” said a Girl Scout from Cambridge.

The individual troops get between $0.55 and $0.61 per box, at least 21 percent of the profit, and about 15 percent of what we pay per box.

“The more they sell, the more they keep,” said Danzinger.

The rest, between $1.89 and $1.95, goes to the council. That’s at least 72 percent of the profit.

“Taking care of the council is taking care of all our buildings, keeping camp affordable,” said Danzinger. “We make sure any girl who wants to be a Girl Scout can regardless of financial situation at home.”

So, the individual troops end up with at least 21 percent of the profit, and up to 25 percent. Boy Scouts here sell popcorn, and the troops get about 30 percent of that profit.

However, because they sell so many cookies here, we’re not just talking about leftover crumbs. Last year, the troops got $3.1 million in funding from cookie sales, and girls got more than $500,000 in prizes and incentives.

The Scouts stress that the sale is not just about money — it’s also about leadership skills.

“We know from our surveys that 80 percent of business owners that are women were Girl Scouts.Tthey’re learning skills they use throughout their lives,” said Danzinger.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Susan

    interesting you think businesses should get any incentives.

  • Bob

    I’m sure NorthWorst Airlines got close to that amount from the metro and Duluth. They also gouged MN flyers by monopolizing the MSP airport. I’m sure the NWA CEO’s/Management were laughing all the way to Atlanta.

    • Satchel

      They didn’t get that much but it illustrates what happens when politicians start handing out our money to private businesses….the taxpayers get the shaft, they get big “donations”.

  • SPalin

    @ Ragnar
    I dodn’t understand why Ann is a dork for expressing herself freely that is guaranteed under the constitution. Now really Ragnar who needs to be eduated. We do spend a lot on education in MN. Use it! By the way, there a things hiding in your beard.

    • Grant Budd

      Actually, her constitutional right keeps the GOVERNMENT from censoring her free speech. Ragnar could view her as a dork because the story was about girl scouts and fundraising – NOT about the vikings, a stadium, or some fictional character named “piggy wilf”. She should stay on topic or start her own blog about how much she hates “piggy wilf”.

  • Peace

    I don’t see how having your parents sell cookies for you builds leadership skills.

    • sharon


      • Jyoti

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    • sharon

      Lets see a meesly 21% the girls earn while the CEO earns a six digit pay check. How is this fair? Then they have to close campsites in Ohio cause there is not enough money. Wonder where all the money goes???? The girls do not build leadership etc cause the parents are the ones who sells the cookies. Let’s get real!!! I sell less and less each year cause this is not worth the hassel. Plus if I give my troop $20 cash ..they get to keep 100% then to have to sell 27 boxes to get the same . shame on you Girl Scouts Council!!

      • Grant Budd

        Yes Sharon, the reply button works. Now on to your comment – if you decide to sell the cookies for your daughter instead of taking the time as a parent to show your daughter HOW TO sell – why is that the girl scout’s fault? The GS provide you with the opportunity to teach your daughter, it’s not their job to be the teacher.

  • CathyM

    As a previous Girl Scout and a current Girl Scout Leader, I see the program as so much more than a profit situation. These girls learn courage, confidence, planning and marketing skills. Our 2nd grade girls are all learning valuable skills through the program. Our girls are using cookie earnings to go to summer camp (that is very expensive). This is a non-profit organization that is helping girls gain leadership skills. Everyone benefits from that!

    • jamandas

      So true. Also GS is really good about covering costs for girls that cannot afford dues, uniforms, books and activities even camp. I have not heard of them denying a girl if they request financial help.

      • Pennagirl

        Uniforms are NOT required by Girl Scouts, the sash is suggested so the girls can display their achievements. I was a registrar for our local service unit…the membership fees are scholarshiped if asked ($12 or so a year) that is different from troop dues (that is set by the troop). The council will scholarship if the girl needs financial aid…they only ask that some sort of effort with fund raising is shown. Cookie sales are NOT mandatory either…but the amount that the troop and individual girl earns helps with supplies, field trips, awards, etc. The council does not give individual troops money. The portion that the council earns pays for capital improvements, upkeep and program offerings, scholarships to camp, etc.

      • Ninuca

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  • Lynn

    I called to enroll my daughter in girl scouts but was told she would not be able participate because of the timing. She was not part of the cookie selling initiative, so she could not participate in the activities. We were told to try again next year. I even offered to pay for all of her activities and other functions, but was still denied.

    • Pennagirl

      Lynn you can join at anytime. But you do sometime have an issue with finding a troop that has room. Cookie sales are OPTIONAL. Contact the COUNCIL not your local group. There is also something called Juliettes – Independent Girl Scouts…not assigned to a troop and you can do the activities and badge work.

    • Jen

      Lynn, that sounds wrong to me. I have been a Girl Scout leader for several years and I have had girls join my troop in the fall, winter, cookie season, spring and summer (yes, we consider cookie sales a season :-) ). Your daugher can join any time, it’s just a matter of finding a troop for her. Two good options, find a friend of hers that is in a troop and contact her leader. Or, go directly to the council and they will help you find a troop. Here’s a link:

  • Jim

    i agree with its great for “girls learn courage, confidence, planning and marketing skills”, but to be honest, i dont know when the last time (year) is that i have seen a kid selling them. Parents have seem to taken over the job.

  • John

    Don’t let Piggy Wilf know you have money.

    He’ll come after you and try to take it away.

  • Carolyn Loeffler

    How did this go from GS cookies to NWA and the Vikings? Yikes!
    As a GS parent, it doesn’t bother me that Council gets a large cut of the profits. The girls/families pay no dues to the local council. Our annual dues payment goes to GSUSA in NY for the national programming, insurane, etc. Sharing the profits with Council is a small price to pay for the facilities, programs and opportunitites provided locally.
    Also, girls can elect not to take the stuffed animals, tote bags, etc. in exchange for “cookie credits” — a voucher good for GS programs, services, merchandise and dues. It’s basically Council’s way of routing the profits back to the girls who earned them.

  • ForeverGreenGirl

    Someday the Girl Scouts will be in a news story that doesn’t involve comparing them to the Boy Scouts. They are separate organizations completely. When presenting a story about Vikings, you don’t compare them to the Packers.

    Thanks to all who purchase cookies or donate to the Girl Scout Council or Troops! We are building tomorrow’s leaders with programs that help build confidence, courage, and character!

    (PS…Boy Scouts may get a larger cut of the sales, but they also sell their popcorn for at least 5 times what you can purchase the same item in Cub or Rainbow.)

    • Pennagirl

      Yes, they are separate organizations, but just wanted it illustrated that there is a difference in how the organizations are treated…nobody complains about the Boy Scout selling, the cost of their products, their membership fees, etc.. People are always grumping about the cost of the cookies and how much the girls see. That is why you have to put it out there about the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts do many more fundraisers..the Girl Scouts only do this one. I have been a leader of two troops, trainer and registrar in the 12 years that I’ve been in Girl Scouting. When I was a kid the Girl Scouts used to have calendar sales in the fall, they dropped that.

  • Jandi softwings

    The girl scouts in front of a market near me J”Albertstons” in Moorpark califonria are selling the boxes for 5.00 a box. did anyone know about this? Inside the store Keepler has exact replicas of each cookie for about 2.99. I can ‘t afford the Girl Scouits mostly anymore. Wish they got more help so they don’t cost so much and they will still get what they need.
    Thank you.

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