It’s what some would arguably call the best time of year – Girl Scout cookie time! It’s also, what some parents would call the most stressful time of the year, if your daughter is part of what the Girl Scouts call the largest girl-run business in the world.
Sure the sales materials make it sound easy — ask everyone you know, sell all the cookies, then simply deliver them and collect the money. It’s a win-win — your daughter gets business experience and cool prizes, her troop gets funding, and everyone gets cookies! Hooray!
Parent and manager of operations
Except, it’s not really as simple as the flyer leads you to believe. Recording sales, managing inventory, delivering the product and money tracking are all involved, and all require an adult’s oversight, depending on the age of your daughter.
The same holds true for Boy Scout popcorn, band candy sales and sports team pizza sales. The idea is that the children learn something and funds are raised, but face it, parents are the default managers of these side projects.
As my kids have gotten older and involved in more activities, we’ve had to take a hard look at what they’re selling, who they’re selling to and why.
Decide what to sell
This past October, my daughter could sell Girl Scout fall products, music department snacks and collect school walkathon donations. My son could sell Boy Scout popcorn and solicit donations for his school’s walkathon. Knowing that there were even more fundraisers on the horizon, I sat them down and asked which fundraisers were important to them.
Hint: For them, it’s almost always about the prizes they can earn.
Figure out what your child can do
When my daughter started selling cookies at age 5, she did the asking and I did the math. She also signed her name to every thank-you note.
As she’s gotten older, she does more and more of the process — at this point, she just needs me to provide the email addresses and phone numbers of her past customers, and I double check the money she prepares to turn in. She’s learned that she gets out of this fundraiser what she puts into it, and each year her sales increase a bit.
Find the educational moments
If you involve your child, they will learn from fundraisers, honest. Somethings that my kids have learned over the years include:
- Starting early really does give you an advantage.
- Rejection isn’t as awful as you might imagine, and people have all kinds of reasons for saying no. It’s nothing to take personally.
- A two hour shift can be a long time when business is slow.
- Manners go a long way.
- There are genuinely good, generous people who will support you.
It’s OK to bow out
Not every fund needs to be raised by you.
Sometimes the fundraiser is mandatory or there’s a buy-out. Sometimes it’s ok not to participate; other times fundraising can be offset by volunteer hours. Sometimes it’s easier and more cost-effective to make a donation straight to the organization.
Fundraisers are a part of life for families, but they don’t need to take over your life. Be selective, make your kids a part of the process, and enjoy some delicious, overpriced snacks along the way!