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Good Question: Where Does Girl Scout Cookie Money Go?

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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.

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