Girl Scout Cookies and where the Money Goes

girl-scout-cookiesGirl Scouts sell lots of cookies. Lots of them. I refuse to purchase for the same reason I don’t buy candy from a kid standing at the corner. I don’t by coupon books from the children of my friends. I’m not convinced it is a good use of my money, frankly, I’m convinced it’s a bad way to help. I suspect I’m going to take some heat for this post but it’s been on my mind for years.

Here is the problem. Much of the money I’m giving to help out the children of my friends goes to someone beside those children. The vast majority of the money goes somewhere else. In the case of the Girl Scouts, the troop itself receives about 13% of the sale. A box of cookies costs $4.00. You’d double the amount you’re giving to the girls if you simply gave the young entrepreneur $1.00.

Some 21% of the sale goes to the baker. The rest goes to the local council. They spend this money largely on salary although it’s difficult to find how much goes to the community, certainly some of it.

Here is what I think is important. I don’t hate Girl Scouts. I don’t hate the Girl Scout Council. I’m saying the method of donating to their cause is somewhat dubious.

This website lists lots of charities and their guidelines for what makes an organization credible or not. They have not rated the Girl Scouts but their general guidelines is that more than 66% of the donated money should go directly to the cause. For those without a math inclination: 66% > 12.5%.

I’m not telling you to stop buying Girl Scout Cookies. I’m telling you, if the reason you are buying them is to help out the daughters of friends, perhaps you should find another way to give. When they come by with their tally sheets, simply give them $1.00 per box that you would normally purchase.

We like to do good. We like to help others. Sometimes that gets taken advantage of by people who don’t even realize they are doing so. The Girl Scouts are filling the wallets of other people. They are doing the work. They are essentially a labor source being exploited by a business.

Therefore I don’t purchase. You may feel differently.

Tom Liberman

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