Four dollars for that enticing box of Thin Mints may not sound so expensive if you know that $3 of it benefits local Girl Scout troops and the regional council that organizes programs for them.
The Girl Scouts’ biggest fundraiser — the organization doesn’t call it a fundraiser, emphasizing the educational value — brought in $786 million nationwide last year from 215 million boxes of cookies. Local organizations can set their own price for the tasty treats.
Of the total retail cost, about 25 percent goes back to the company that produces the cookies. Another quarter goes to the troops and the “community” that several local troops comprise, said Amanda Hamaker, national Girl Scout cookie spokeswoman.
The other half of the money is forwarded to the regional council, which in the Capital Region is Girls Scouts of Northeastern New York.
“The revenues left after paying the baker stay in the local community and with the local Girl Scout council,” Hamaker said.
But parents of Girl Scouts see a smaller percentage than that for spending on troop activities, because some of that 25 percent goes toward rewards to girls for their sales and to the larger community that helps girls who aren’t part of a troop and want to attend Girl Scout events. For example, there is a Saratoga community made up of several individual troops, said Kris St. Peter, product sales director for Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York.
Girls earn rewards
St. Peter pins the amount that stays with the troops and communities at between 13 percent and 17 percent after paying rewards, which add up to 4 percent to 6 percent of the retail price.
Those monies give girls prizes for selling cookies or allow them to earn credits toward buying Girl Scout-related items or going on trips.
The national Girl Scouts of the USA doesn’t get any direct proceeds from cookie sales, but is paid royalties by the cookie companies for the use of the Girl Scout name and logo. Hamaker would not say how much the royalties are each year, but said they are “very small” and make up between 5 percent and 10 percent of the organization’s net revenue.
“It is below industry average,” she said of the royalties.
The most recent Form 990 for Girl Scouts of the USA, in 2011, shows the organization received $7.2 million in royalties. Hamaker said that figure covers all royalties from the use of the Girl Scout logo, not just the cookies.
The two cookie companies licensed to make Girl Scout cookies are ABC Baker and Little Brownie Baker. Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York hires Little Brownie Baker.
The regional council, which covers 15 counties, purchases the cookies up front and distributes them to the troop for selling, St. Peter said.
Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York uses its 50 percent of proceeds for programming for the local girls, including camp, outdoor activities and travel programs, she said.
Saving for a trip
The girls in Troop 2506 in Rotterdam are raising money this year for a trip to the Poconos, where they will either go to a dude ranch or a water park, said troop leader Tina Cole.
The troop gets 75 cents from the price of each box of cookies, and the teenage girls elect to forgo prizes for selling cookies in order to get the cash to attend the trip.
Last year each girl had to sell 300 boxes to raise money to cover the whole trip.
“A lot of my girls work really, really hard and get the trip for free,” Cole said.
The trips also include an educational component. On last year’s excursion to the Jersey shore, the group visited an aquarium, and this year they’ll try to hit a museum or a zoo or animal park, she said.
Compared with the Girl Scout proceeds, when Boy Scouts sell popcorn, more money goes to the local troops and less to the local council.
The Boy Scout troops and packs keep 40 percent of the retail price of the snacks, said Scott Hayden, director of field service for the Twin Rivers Council. That covers monies that go to the group as a whole and to the Scouts individually for prizes.
The council gets 30 percent of the money and the company that makes the popcorn gets 30 percent of the retail price.
Boy Scouts sell the popcorn in September and October. It is offered throughout the Twin Rivers Council as a fundraiser, and between two-thirds and three-quarters of packs or troops take part, Hayden said.
Right now, Girl Scouts are taking initial orders for cookies, which will arrive the week of March 11. Girls can continue to take orders until booth sales start March 16, when the girls sell outside Walmart, for example.
Sales for the perennial favorite end April 7.