GSNorCal Volunteer Essentials
QUICK LINKS TO CHAPTERS: TABLE OF CONTENTS | NAVIGATION | QUICK START GUIDE| ABOUT GSNorCal | VOLUNTEERING | GIRL SCOUT PROGRAM | GIRLS & ADULTS | SAFETY-WISE | MONEY | BIENVENIDO (en Español) | GLOSSARY |
Quick Links to MONEY Chapter Topics: Managing Troop Finances | Financial Literacy Skills for Girls | Establishing A Bank Account | Reporting Responsibilities | Disbanding, Merging, Bridging, or Splitting Groups | Options For Funding | Contributions From Families | Money-Earning Basics | Money-Earning Projects: Approval Required | Collaborating With Sponsors & Other Organizations | Supporting GSNorCal | Contracts & Certificates of Insurance | Safeguarding Members' Personal Information | Document Retention | Online Camp/Event Registration Information |
Helping girls decide what they want to do, and coaching them as they earn and manage money to pursue their goals, is an integral part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). Your Girl Scout troop plans and finances its own activities, with your guidance. At the same time, the girls learn many valuable skills that serve them throughout their lives.
Girl Scout troops are funded by a share of money earned through council-sponsored product sale activities (such as Girl Scout cookie activities), troop money-earning activities (council-approved, of course), and any dues your troop may charge. This is in addition to the $25* annual membership dues that go to the national organization, (and the $15 GSNorCal Council Service fee which pertains to girl memberships only). This MONEY chapter gives you the ins and outs of establishing a troop account and helping girls manage their troop’s finances, practice successful product-sales techniques, review the safety requirements around product sales, and understand how to collaborate with sponsors and causes.
The girls should always make decisions together on how to spend their funds. All troop money legally belongs to the council to be used by the troop/group to pay for their Girl Scout activities. Everyone should understand that if they leave the troop that the money is not their personal property; under no circumstances would an individual take any portion of the money with her to use for non-Girl Scout purposes, including funding her college education. Further, the IRS has issued an advisory that non-profit organizations may NOT track individual “girl accounts”. Per the IRS, “a section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.” The IRS took the position that using the money raised in various fundraising activities to further the Scouting program was in accordance with their exempt purpose, but the creation of a reserve fund for individual girls within a troop (i.e. earmarked accounts) is not allowed.
Adult volunteers operate in a position of trust, and must avoid any appearance of financial impropriety:
- Girl Scout funds must never be held in personal accounts, even temporarily.
- Under no circumstances is it appropriate to borrow Girl Scout money for personal use, nor use Girl Scout money for personal expenses.
- Girl Scout adults should not loan money to the troop by paying for expenses beyond a nominal amount, except after previous discussion and agreement by troop members. Any expenditures made personally by Girl Scout adults should be reimbursed in a timely fashion.
- Businesses owned by troop adults should not transact business with a Girl Scout troop, except with the guidance of the council’s Risk Management team (email@example.com).
Registering Girls in Girl Scouting
Every participant (girl or adult) in Girl Scouting must register and become a member of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). GSUSA membership dues are valid for one year from October 1 through September 30. Membership dues are sent by the council to GSUSA; the additional Council Service fee per girl remains with GSNorCal. Membership dues may not be transferred to another member and are not refundable.
Pre-registration for the upcoming membership year occurs in the spring. Girls are encouraged to register early to avoid the fall rush. Early registration helps ensure uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps girls and councils plan ahead, and gets girls excited about all the great stuff they want to do as Girl Scouts next year. Girl Scout grade level is determined by the current membership year beginning October 1. Lifetime membership is available at a reduced rate. A lifetime member must be at least 18 years old (or a 17-year-old high-school graduate) and agree to the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Troop Bank Account Required to Participate in Product Program
A troop bank account is required in order to participate in the Fall and Cookie Programs. GSNorCal’s portion of the proceeds will be automatically transferred electronically from the troop account to GSNorCal. In addition, one of the signers on the troop/group bank account must complete the online form with bank account information and authorizing the transfer. You will find detailed information in the Product Program manuals.
Your troop/group will not be able to pick up products until the online authorization is set up.
Check Acceptance Policy
Troops should not accept checks with amounts larger than $60, post-dated checks, foreign or non-imprinted checks. Troops are responsible for the handling of their funds and charges incurred in their accounts, such as returned checks.
Policy on Counterfeit Bills
is strongly recommended that troops be careful when accepting money
from customers. GSNorCal suggests the use of a counterfeit money
marker (available in office supply stores). If a counterfeit bill is
detected, please follow these steps:
- Return the bills to the bank- be sure to get a receipt.
- For bills received (no larger than $20) in regards to a council-sponsored product sale, submit an ACH Discrepancy Form—directions are found in the troop manual for each product program.
Bill Pay Services Not Allowed
The only vendor that GSNorCal has a relationship with is Square. There are a number of internet and banking services (such as PayPal) that would enable a troop leader or treasurer to send bills and collect payments, allowing families to pay for dues, travel, or other amounts. However, services such as these are not allowed for Girl Scout troops because the process could involve improper handling of troop funds, and would likely involve an improper co-mingling of personal and group funds.
The girls should be involved with the troop finances. Bringing in, collecting, keeping track of, filling out deposits, etc. for troop finances is an important learning experience and can begin with adult guidance from the youngest ages. For information on how Service Units can utilize bill pay services, please contact Info@gsnorcal.org.
Accepting Credit Card Payment
GSNorCal recommends those troops or service units who want to open and manage a mobile payment account use Square (our preferred vendor). Square provides troops a low transaction rate, and no monthly fees or inactivity fees. Troops are responsible for managing their accounts with Square and any resulting fees or liabilities (this applies for accounts with Square and other vendors).
Adults need to take the brief “Accepting Credit Cards” online course to ensure they understand the responsibility and liability of taking credit card payments and to receive specific Square registration and setup instructions. training.gsnorcal.org Troops that have previously used other vendors, such as GoPayment or PayAnywhere, may continue to use those vendors. However, they should be aware that these other vendors may charge annual or inactivity fees, and may charge higher transaction fees than our preferred vendor.
Troops may use their Square or other mobile payment account that has been specifically opened for the troop and tied to the troop bank account to accept payments from families for their dues to the troop or payments for activities in addition to accepting payment from product sales customers. If the troop will input the card number into the reader (rather than swiping the card at the time of payment), they must follow all guidelines to ensure safe handling of the sensitive personal information outlined in the Accepting Credit Cards online course and in Volunteer Essentials, such as not sending the card number via email or fax. [MONEY: Safeguarding Personal Information]
Service Units may use Square or other mobile payment account to accept event registration fees or other payments from troops or individuals. However, these accounts must be set up using GSNorCal procedures and using the GSNorCal tax identification number to avoid co-mingling troop funds with personal funds. The service unit must use a Square account that is specifically opened for the service unit and tied to the service unit's bank account. To avoid co-mingling funds, they may not use a troop card reader that is tied to a troop account. If the service unit will input the card number into the reader (rather than swiping the card at the time of payment), they must follow all guidelines to ensure safe handling of the sensitive personal information outlined in the Accepting Credit Cards online course and in Volunteer Essentials, such as not sending the card number via email or fax. [MONEY: Safeguarding Personal Information]
Money Owed to the Council or Taken/Borrowed From Girl Scout Troop Accounts
GSNorCal reserves the right to pursue collection efforts for unpaid money owed and/or prosecute to the fullest extent allowable under the law. Situations involving large amounts of money or product may require that a police report be filed, and/or be referred to the District Attorney for investigation. Additionally, individuals involved in delinquencies, theft, or misuse of troop funds (such as borrowing funds from the troop account for personal use) will face release from their current Girl Scout position and ineligibility for future appointment. Primary communication and collection attempts will begin and will be the responsibility of GSNorCal staff. Failure to repay the amount owed can result in immediate criminal charges, notification to creditors, referral for collection by an outside agency, and/or wages garnished.
Sales Tax and Non Profit Organizations
Some people believe that nonprofit organizations do not have to pay sales tax. That is not the case in California. The only time that volunteers or GSNorCal staff do not pay sales tax is when the items will be resold. Selling crafts is permitted. If you have a project in mind that may include selling items or reselling any items on behalf of any Girl Scout troop, service unit or other group, please contact Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance before purchasing your items.
The Purchase of Gift Certificates
Troop and service unit funds cannot be used to purchase gift cards. There are tax implications when cash or gifts cards are given to an individual or another organization, no matter how nominal the amount. Federal law dictates that gift card recipients are considered an employee or independent contractor, with all of the requirements that employing an individual requires. This also means that the Federal government views gift cards as taxable income to the recipients.
People often talk about “how time flies”, and how quickly children grow up. When girls become adults and go out on their own (whether off to college, or starting their careers and establishing their own households) they will need to know how to handle their bank accounts and credit cards, pay their bills on time, and learn to live within their means. Later, they’ll need to try to build savings accounts, handle their investments, and start saving for their retirement. Will they be ready?
By building girls’ financial literacy skills as they grow, they’ll be ready to meet their next challenges:
- Going off to middle school ready to pay for gym clothes, yearbooks, deposits
- Heading to high school where they have to be responsible for ever larger amounts of money
- Leaving home and paying bills on time, having their own bank accounts, and living within their means
Try to keep your eye on the age-appropriate financial and sales abilities in the following section to make sure your girls are on track. If they have a chance to practice skills as they go, they will be ready!
Making financial decisions and handling the troop money is considered an important part of the Girl Scout program. Even the youngest girls should be a part of making decisions on how their money is spent and can be given choices such as choosing between purchasing patches or other items or doing additional activities instead.
The troop adults should never make financial decisions without consulting the girls in at least a general way on how their funds should be spent. Other ways to involve girls in their finances:
- Collecting dues and counting the money
- Collecting money and making change at booth sales for fall products or cookie sales
- Investigating the costs of doing certain activities
- Keeping financial records
- Assisting the troop’s adult treasurer in reconciling bank statements
- Assisting the troop’s adult treasurer in completing the Troop Finance Report
To protect girls from legal liability, they may NOT be signers on the troop/group bank account.
Remember: It’s great for girls to have opportunities, like the Girl Scout Cookie Program, to earn funds that help them fulfill their goals as part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). As a volunteer, try to help girls balance the money-earning they do with opportunities to enjoy other activities that have less emphasis on earning and spending money. Take-action projects, for example, may not always require girls to spend a lot of money!
Reviewing Financial and Sales Abilities by Grade Level
As with other activities, girls progress in their financial and sales abilities as they get older. This section gives you some examples of the abilities of girls at each grade level.
Girl Scout Daisies
At the Daisy level (Kindergarten and 1st grade):
Girl Scout Brownies
At the Brownie level (2nd and 3rd grades):
Girl Scout Juniors
At the Junior level (4th and 5th grades):
Girl Scout Cadettes, Girl Scout Seniors, & Girl Scout Ambassadors
At the Cadette (6th through 8th grades), Senior (9th and 10th grades), and Ambassador (11th and 12th grades) levels:
Helping Girls Reach Their Financial Goals
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is well known in many communities. It is likely that your girls will already know a bit about it and want to get out there to start selling as soon as possible. However, it’s important that the girls have a clear plan and purpose for their product-sale and money-earning activities. One of your opportunities as a volunteer is to facilitate girl-led financial planning, which may include the following steps for the girls:
- Set goals for money-earning activities. What do girls hope to accomplish through this activity? In addition to earning money, what skills do they hope to build? What leadership opportunities present themselves?
- Create a budget. Use a budget worksheet that includes both expenses (the cost of supplies, admission to events, travel, and so on) and available income (the group’s account balance, projected cookie proceeds, and so on).
- Determine how much the group needs to earn. Subtract expenses from available income to determine how much money your group needs to earn. Remember that girls/families cannot be assessed "fees" or "dues" to opt out of volunteering for the troop or participating in product sales.
- Make a plan. The group can brainstorm and make decisions about its financial plans. Will cookie and other product sales—if approached proactively and energetically—earn enough money to meet the group’s goals? If not, which group money-earning activities might offset the difference in anticipated expense and anticipated income? Will more than one group money-earning activity be necessary to achieve the group’s financial goals? In this planning stage, engage the girls through the Girl Scout processes (girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning) and consider the value of any potential activity. Have them weigh feasibility, implementation, and safety factors. Make sure that these decision-making discussions are documented for future reference.
- Write it out. Once the group has decided on its financial plan, describe it in writing. If the plan involves a money-earning activity, fill out a Money Earning Application (https://www.gsnorcal.org/en/our-council/documents-and-publications/Finance_Money_Earning_Application_Form.html) for approval from GSNorCal and submit it along with the budget worksheet the girls created.
Remember: It’s great for girls to have opportunities, like the Girl Scout Cookie Program, to earn funds that help them fulfill their goals as part of the GSLE. As a volunteer, try to help girls balance the money-earning they do with opportunities to enjoy other activities that have less emphasis on earning and spending money. Take Action projects, for example, may not always require girls to spend a lot of money!
If your troop/group is earning, collecting, or spending money for the group, the group needs to set up a bank account. It is required to have a troop bank account if the troop/group will participate in the product program (either the Fall or Cookie Programs).
If you’re taking over an existing troop, you may inherit a checking account, but with a new troop, you’ll want to open a new account. This usually happens when there is money to deposit, such as troop dues, or money from product sales or troop money-earning activities.
When working with a GSNorCal troop account:
- There must be at least two signers on the account at all times.
- All account signers must be currently registered members and have current adult screening clearance, and be affiliated with the troop. Additionally, all adults who will handle money (such as at a product sales booth sale) must be registered and complete the adult background check.
- Signer #1/account "Key Executive" must be designated as the Troop Treasurer.
- Signer #2 should be registered as the Troop Leader.
- All signers should be aware of the responsibilities of managing troop finances and should complete the Troop Treasurer training in the Volunteer Learning Portal.
- To protect them from legal liability, girls may not be signers on the troop account.
- Have Signer #1/account "Key Executive"/Troop Treasurer and Signer #2/Troop Leader work together to be responsible for group funds and for keeping a daily account of expenditures, forming a check and balance system with each other.
- Any one of the signers may write checks for group expenses (multiple signatures are not required). When a signer has written a check or used the debit card, they should inform all of the other signers that an expenditure has been made.
- Keep group funds in the bank. Do not store them in homes or offices.
- Girl Scout Troop/Group funds cannot be co-mingled with personal accounts. Additionally, borrowing Girl Scout money for personal use or using Girl Scout money for personal expenses is prohibited.
- Troop checks may not be imprinted with the name of the leader/adult volunteer. Instead, the account should read "Girl Scouts of Northern California Troop _____" (5 digit troop number).
- Have those responsible for troop funds report to the girls and families on a regular basis (at least four times per year).
- Handle a lost group debit card the same way you would a personal debit card: cancel it immediately.
- Pay for as many items as possible in advance of your activity or trip departure.
- If possible, use debit cards during an activity or trip, rather than cash.
Steps For Opening Your Troop Bank Account
Once you have your troop number you are ready to open your bank account. Visit our Volunteer Learning Portal to complete the “Opening Your Bank Account” training module, which will help you with this process training.gsnorcal.org.
The steps below describe how to open your troop bank account through Wells Fargo Bank. If there aren't any Wells Fargo branches within a reasonable distance to you, please contact Info@gsnorcal.org for assistance.
To open your troop account at Wells Fargo Bank, follow the process as outlined in the following steps in order to reduce or eliminate errors. Do not set up accounts at local branches. Any fees associated with accounts not created using the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet will not be covered by Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal).
|Steps to Open
Explanation and Additional Information
Complete the forms:
Forms are available on the
GSNorCal website (GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet includes the
Temporary Loan Request/One Time ACH Authorization Form on next page): www.GSNorCal.org/forms
Mail (snail mail) the forms to the GSNorCal address listed on the forms.
Do not email or fax forms (these forms contain your sensitive personal information.
|Once completed forms are received, membership and screening will be verified.|
In person signature authorization at a Wells Fargo branch is required by the bank for Signer #1/Troop Treasurer/"Key Executive" on the account.
At your appointment with Wells Fargo:
Wells Fargo banker will open your account and inform GSNorCal.
Fund Your Account: Once your account has been opened, it will need to be funded with $25 either by self funding (if the troop has enough money) or GSNorCal will temporarily loan the initial $25 that is required to open a troop bank account within 3 business days.
Sign up for online banking and online statement delivery at: www.WellsFargo.com/biz
Bank Account FAQs
Can I use my local Wells Fargo branch for ongoing banking transactions and maintenance? Once your bank account has been established following the above procedures, you can use your local branch for deposits and most banking maintenance. However, adding and deleting signers should be done through the council using the Girl Scout Troop Bank Change of Signers Request Form. (https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/finance/troop-bank-account-change-signers-form.pdf) This will ensure all signers are screened and registered.
Do I have to use Wells Fargo? No, you don’t. Keep in mind that if you are not using Wells Fargo and have an issue, GSNorCal might not be able to help easily. Using Wells Fargo also gives the council the ability to monitor and manage accounts that become delinquent or dormant or when troops disband without completing the process.
What should I do if I notice a fee has been charged on my account? Check your bank statement columns on the right hand side under account options to see if the correct boxes are checked:
- Online banking should be checked.
- Online statements should be checked.
- If Rewards is checked the troop will be charged $25 per year. The Wells Fargo Business Banking Center can remove that option.
If you have a question related to a bank charge, please call the Wells Fargo Business Banking Center on 866-559-0638 more information. They may not be able to waive the fee but they should be able to explain it. Contact GSNorCal for assistance in having an erroneous fee reversed Info@gsnorcal.org or (800) 447-4475 ext. 2095.
If the account is overdrawn, who is responsible for any fees? Overdrafts are the responsibility of the adult accountable for the overdraft. The troop should be reimbursed by that person.
Who can open a troop bank account? To open a troop bank account, (GSNorCal) requires a minimum of two signers. All signers must have a current Girl Scout membership, a valid background screening and be listed in a volunteer role on the troop roster. One signer must be listed on the roster as the troop leader. All signers must complete the Troop Treasurer Training found in the GSNorCal Volunteer Learning Portal (http://training.girlscoutsnorcal.org/login/index.php). Troop leaders should not be the Troop Treasurers as well.
What are the steps to open a troop bank account? To open a troop bank account, signers must meet the registration, background screening, and training requirements listed in the answer above, and then complete the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet. The GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet is on the GSNorCal website. Once the form is completed, it is mailed to the council office address listed on the creation form for processing. Please note, signers can complete the form and mail it in, either individually or together.
Does it matter who the first signer is on the form? Yes! The primary signer will be the individual who is designated as troop treasurer. This signer will be responsible for going to a Wells Fargo Branch to complete the in-person signature authorization process so that the account can be opened. The troop leader should be the second signer on the account. Troop leaders and troop treasurers should be two different people.
Why is there an option to request a loan in the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet? Wells Fargo, our banking partner, requires all business accounts to be opened with a $25 deposit. If a troop does not have $25 of troop funds to deposit, a loan can be requested. This loan funds the account for approximately 10 business days before being automatically repaid to GSNorCal. During this time, account signers make a small deposit into the account. In doing so, the account will remain open and active once the loan is repaid.
What are the service fees, account balance and activity requirements for troop bank accounts? There are no service fees associated with troop bank accounts! In addition, there are no minimum balance requirements or activity requirements once the initial deposit of $25 is made to open the account. However, please be aware that bank accounts left without a positive balance of funds for 30 days will be closed due to inactivity. Upon opening the account, you will receive a new account disclosure packet. You should refer to this for all details on fees and services being provided.
Do I have to go through the council to open a troop bank account? No, however, should you choose to open an account outside of the council process, we are unable to assist you with any issues or concerns with your account, including service fees, account balance minimums and change of signers.
Why do I have to list my social Security Number on the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet? Customer identification programs (CIPs) are now required by federal law to prevent financing of terrorist operations and money laundering. Banks must now keep records of identifying information and check customer names against terrorist lists. This applies to anyone who opens a new account.
Will there be an entry on my credit history for opening this account? Under the council process, Wells Fargo bank will not pull a credit report for volunteers opening a troop bank account. However, signers’ names are checked with a consumer reporting service which runs a bank history report which shows if a signer has a record of mismanaging past checking privileges. This report is different from a credit check.
Are checks included with the troop bank account? This account provides three blank starter checks when the account is opened. Troops wanting additional checks must purchase them either through Wells Fargo or a vendor of their choice. Each signer will receive a debit card for the account and access to online banking. The troop leader and troop treasurer should know the whereabouts of the troop account debit card at all times.
How long does it take for a troop account to be opened? Plan on ten business days for an account to be opened. Once we receive the account creation paperwork, it is checked. Any omissions on the forms or signers who do not meet the requirements stated above will result in a delay. Once the form has been checked by the Girl Scout office an email is sent to the primary signer within 3 business days with list of approved branch offices. Make an appointment (appointments.wellsfargo.com/maa/appointment/) to meet with a senior banker at one of the approved branch offices. Reply to GSNorCal with the branch, name of banker, and date of appointment. At your appointment, the Wells Fargo banker will verify your identity and open your account!
Helpful Account Creation Tips!
- Complete each block of the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet and the Change of Signer form. Blank spaces/empty fields will slow down the process!
- Complete the in-person signature authorization step as quickly as possible; the account opening process can’t move forward until this is done!
- The cover page of the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet has lots of helpful information; please keep it as a reference.
- Let us know if you have any questions; we are here to help!
Contact Member Services, Customer Care: 800-447-4475 ext. 2095
To change signers, simply download the online GSNorCal Troop Bank Change of Signers Request Form (https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/finance/troop-bank-account-change-signers-form.pdf), complete and mail into the council office. It's important that signers are removed from the account right away if they leave the troop. The form will be processed and an existing signer on the account will receive an addendum reflecting the changes. This document will need to be signed and returned to the council office; we will forward it to the bank where the change will be completed. You will be notified once this process is complete. Please anticipate a minimum of ten business days to complete the change of signer process. Be sure to collect the troop account debit card from the signor who is leaving the troop.
Things to Know About Your Wells Fargo Account
- Although there is no minimum balance required for this account, an initial deposit of $25 must be made to fund the account, either by self-funding (if the troop has enough money), or GSNorCal will temporarily loan the initial $25 to the troop.
- At least a few dollars must be kept for the account to remain active; it will not remain open with a zero balance.
- Overdrawn accounts are subject to closure and/or fees.
- If you go into a branch office after your account is open and they offer additional services, let them know that you cannot participate in their programs (rewards, bill pay, etc).
- If a monthly service charge is posted to the account, please contact GSNorCal Info@gsnorcal.org for assistance in having the fee reversed. (If you did not set up the account using the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet, your troop/group will be responsible for the fees. The account should be closed and a new account established using the GSNorCal Troop Bank Account Creation Packet to avoid future monthly fees.)
Closing A Bank Account
Unused Girl Scout money left in accounts when groups disband becomes the property of the council. The group may decide to donate any unused funds to their Service Unit, another troop or for girl activities prior to disbanding.
As when closing a personal account, be sure all checks and other debits have cleared the account before you close it. Turn remaining funds over to a GSNorCal staff member.
One critical task for each troop, no matter what grade level, is to keep excellent records and establish a clear accounting system for all money earned and spent. As the troop's troop leader or treasurer, you’re in charge of making sure money is spent wisely and that excellent records are kept (keeping copies of all receipts in a binder or folder), and tracking all income, too.
For older girls, your job is to oversee their work, as they learn to keep impeccable records. Reconciled troop bank statements and records should be available to parents and girls upon their request to review at each troop meeting. It is good practice to share troop finances with parents and girls quarterly to facilitate full disclosure on how much has been earned and where it has been spent.
By May 15th, troop are required to submit a year-end financial report accompanied by a bank statement ending April 30th of that year with their Service Unit Treasurer. Troops carrying over $500 at the end of the year must document program plans for expending the funds on the Troop Finance Report (https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/finance/troop-finance-report-form.pdf). These reports are randomly audited by service unit treasurers, council staff, and/or GSNorCal's finance team. The account may be subject to closure by September 30th if the report has not been received.
A copy of the Troop Finance Report must be furnished to girls and families. Many problems can be avoided if the person responsible for maintaining the bank account reports more often (monthly or at least quarterly, as appropriate for your group). It also is suggested that the treasurer report to the girls and families after each product sale with financial details. Keep receipts for every expenditure for a minimum of three years.
It can make the task of completing the Troop Finance Report easier if records are kept using the same income and expense categories as those on the form.
Members who handle credit card information must complete the PCI/DSS online module at training.gsnorcal.org. The Troop Finance Report module can be accessed from the Troop Leader, Troop Treasurer, or SU Treasurer Role pages at training.gsnorcal.org. This course walks you through the process of completing the Troop Finance Report if you need some coaching. It’s not difficult, especially if you’ve kept good records.
Service Unit Reporting Responsibilities
Reconciled service unit bank statements and records should be available to service unit members to review at each troop meeting.
Service Units should report regularly to the Service Unit Team and members on the service unit’s financial situation. The Service Unit Finance Report must be submitted to GSNorCal each year by September 30. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the form so that you can organize your records as you go.
Service Unit Financial Aid
Service Units are encouraged to provide financial aid for girls in the service unit for membership registration or to participate in troop, service unit, council, national, or international Girl Scouting opportunities if they are able to do so. It is important that a consistent process for awarding financial aid is established.
For assistance, contact Info@gsnorcal.org. These expenses should be included in the “donations” line on the Service Unit Finance Report (or “destinations” line if used for girls to attend national or international destinations events).
Service Unit College Scholarships are Not Allowed
While some service units have scholarship funds to help troops and girls who cannot afford the fees to attend SU events, service units should not award educational scholarships for girls. All Girl Scout money is to be used to fund activities for girls in Girl Scouting.
GSNorCal manages some funds that have come through endowments to support educational scholarships in specific areas. These funds are dispersed directly to the educational institutions on behalf of the girl. If a service unit has funds specifically donated for this purpose, they must work with GSNorCal staff to comply with all federal, state, and local laws. email@example.com
NOTE: Many colleges, universities, and community funders have established scholarships that recognize girls’ leadership experience in Girl Scouting. Scholarship information is available at: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/our-program/scholarships.html
Financial Best PracticesKeeping complete and accurate records protects you from claims of financial impropriety. Your troop account must be audited at the request of a parent or the council. Keep receipts for every expenditure for a minimum of three years.
How would you feel if the parents in your troop thought these thoughts (real-life examples)?
- My daughter sold 862 boxes of cookies, but I really don’t know how that money was spent.
- I know our troop earned $640 in cookie money this year, but I sure don’t think it was spent on the troop– they didn’t do that much.
- The leader’s daughter always seems to have all the uniform components. Why doesn’t she buy them for the other girls?
- I can’t believe that the leader spent all that money buying those flower arrangements for the Investiture ceremony.
Avoid the possibility of having your financial practices being called into question by following these best practices:
- Keep good financial records, including receipts (for a minimum of three years) for every expenditure, no matter how small.
- Involve girls (and sometimes parents) in financial decision-making. The more they know, the better!
- Remember that charging girls and their families for opting out of participating in product sales, other troop activities and/or volunteering for the troop are not allowed.
- Review your Troop bank statements monthly, and report on group finances regularly to girls and families. The money belongs to the girls, and they should know how it has been spent and how much they have left.
- Asking younger troops to participate in the Product Program on behalf of an older troop is prohibited. Troop proceeds for Product Program participation belong to each troop that participated in the program.
- Pay attention to and follow the other financial guidelines in this booklet. They are there to protect you, and help keep you in compliance with various laws and IRS regulations.
Be sure to use the GSNorCal Troop Bank Change of Signers Request Form immediately to change signers if a signer leaves the troop to protect yourself and the girls’ funds.(https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/finance/troop-bank-account-change-signers-form.pdf). Collect troop debit cards from those who are no longer signers on the troop account.
Girls Changing Troops
If one or more girls move from one troop to another troop within GSNorCal, their original troop account stays intact and no funds are transferred. However, it would be appropriate for the troop to decide together that a proportionate amount be transferred to the girl's/girls' new troop(s), but they are under no obligation to do so. This percentage is determined by dividing the total amount in the account by the number of girls in the troop. This division is made regardless of an individual girl’s contribution through product sales and other money-earning means. When girls are placed/accepted into an existing troop, they participate in the activities planned by that troop and work within the constraints of that troop’s treasury.
If two troops merge, the funds from both troops are combined into one account.
Multi-age troops with girls bridging to a new level, and thus into a new troop may transfer a proportionate amount of the former troop funds to the new troop. This percentage is determined by dividing the total amount in the account by the number of girls in the troop. This division is made regardless of an individual girl’s contribution through product sales and other money-earning means. The former troop is not considered disbanded.
If the entire troop (ALL girls and families) mutually decide to split or divide, it is appropriate for the troop to decide to split the funds of the existing troop proportionally. However, if a small group decides to split off to form a new troop, they do so with the understanding that they have no claim to their “share” of the funds unless the troop decides together to split the funds in this way. Contact your service unit or your VDM/MM (GSNorCal staff member) for assistance in the process/procedures to split the funds.
Summary: Disbursal of Troop Funds
|Girl leaves troop, does not continue in Girl Scouts
||No funds move|
|Girl moves to another troop||No funds move|
|Troop disbands, girl moves into another group||Portion of funds transfers|
|Troop disbands, no girls continue in Girl Scouts||Funds held by GSNorCal until start of next membership year, or not less than 12 months of the date of the disbandment|
|Troop ends, some girls bridge to a new troop
|Troops merge||Funds combine|
|Troop splits into 2 or more troops||Troop decides—contact your service unit or GSNorCal to discuss procedures|
A troop is considered disbanded if it is no longer meeting, or the troop has not registered for the new membership year. If one or more girls from a disbanding troop are placed into one or several other active groups within GSNorCal, a percentage of the troop funds transfers to the new troop(s). This percentage is determined by dividing the total amount in the account by the number of girls in the troop at the time of disbanding. This division is made regardless of an individual girl’s contribution through product sales and other money-earning means.
The apportioned amount of money per girl is transferred directly from the disbanding troop bank account to the other active troop(s) bank account(s) and may not be given to any individual girl or adult. The transfer of funds must take place within 60 days of the troop disbanding. The council will hold all un-apportioned funds until the beginning of the following membership year (at least 12 months from the date of the disbandment). All custodial funds from disbanded troops will be transferred into the GSNorCal Opportunity Fund after the 12-month hold period has occurred. If the troop reactivates during this period, the funds will be returned to the troop by written request to GSNorCal.
When a troop disbands:
If the troop decides not to re-register or decides to stop meeting during the membership year, the leader is to:
- Notify the service unit leadership.
- Help the girls decide how to use existing troop funds. This decision must be made by the girls. Please note: the funds are for Girl Scout activities and are not to be retained by individuals as their property. Girls may contribute a portion of their troop treasury to their service unit, another troop, or for girl activities prior to disbanding. Appropriate use of funds includes:
- choosing a program activity,
- donations to a service unit or another troop, the GSNorCal Opportunity Fund www.gsnorcal.org/en/support-us/campaigns.html or the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund donate.GirlScouts.org/worldfriendshipfund
- or purchasing Lifetime Membership for graduating high school seniors.
- Girls may also choose to contribute their funds to another non-profit organization that the girls have developed an interest in through their Take Action projects. PROJECTS BENEFITING ANOTHER ORGANIZATION
- Complete the Disbanded Troop Form (https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/troop/disbanded-troop-form-and-process.pdf)
- Complete a Troop Finance Report (https://www.gsnorcal.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsnorcal/documents/volunteer_resources/finance/troop-finance-report-form.pdf) and include a copy of the most recent bank statement.
- Remit any remaining funds to the council for disbursal: get a cashier’s check for any remaining funds or issue a group check. Close the account after all checks and other debits have cleared.
- Turn everything (checkbook, bank statements, ATM cards, deposit slips, troop/group equipment and supplies, and the final Troop/Group Finance Report) in to your Leader Support Manager (LSM) or Service Unit Treasurer.
Troops, girls earning Bronze, Silver or Gold awards, and service units have several options to obtain money to fund planned activities:
- Voluntary contributions from families: Individual girl dues or financial investment by families
- Money earned by girls:
- The Girl Scout Cookie Program and other sales of Girl Scout–authorized products (such as Girl Scout cookies, magazines, or nuts and candy), are organized by GSNorCal and open to all Girl Scouts. Girls can participate in two council-sponsored product program activities each year: the Cookie and the Fall Program. All girl members who take part in any pathway of Girl Scouting (troop, camp, travel, etc.), including Daisies, are eligible to participate in council-sponsored product activities, with volunteer supervision. Please remember: volunteers and Girl Scout council staff don’t sell cookies and other products—girls do.
- Girls in grades 6-12 who are members of a troop with a council-approved trip and/or high adventure activity planned, or girls in grades 9-12 with an approved Gold Award project, may request that all or part of their Product Sale Reward Card be converted into troop funds to support council approved troop trips, high adventure activities, or approved Gold Award projects. Upon receipt by the troop this becomes part of the troop funds and follows the same guidelines for handling of troop money. Through a democratic process, the troop agrees on fund usage for the council-approved trip/high adventure/Gold Award activity.
- “Group money-earning” refers to activities organized by the group (not by GSNorCal) that are planned and carried out by girls (in partnership with adults) and that earn money for the group. These activities must be approved by GSNorCal in writing prior to beginning the activity.
- The girls in the troop can decide to designate a portion of troop funds to pay for expenses towards Gold, Silver, and Bronze award projects that their members are carrying out. As in all troop financial decisions, the girls in the troop must make the decisions on how their funds are spent, rather than having the adults make those decisions. The girl(s) seeking funding should submit an approved Gold/Silver/Bronze Award project budget to the troop, listing the planned expenses as well as any other funding sources and amounts (see Award Guidelines for approval requirements). The troop can decide to pay for expenses up to a designated amount to fully or partially fund the project, and can also decide to pay for specific items and not for others. If possible, the girl(s) should submit bills to the troop for payment directly to merchants or vendors. If this is not possible or practical, the girl(s) can be reimbursed for expenses within the previously approved budgeted amounts when original receipts are submitted to the troop. If the girl(s) realize that budget adjustments are necessary, an updated and approved budget should be submitted to the troop to decide whether it will support the budget adjustment prior to incurring the expenses.
- Troop money-earning
- Fundraising Projects (adults only requires approval)
- In-Kind Donations
- Cause-Related Marketing
These various types of donations are described below:
Activities that are planned and carried out by girls and supported by adults to earn money for the troop treasury. The income from troop money-earning activities never becomes the property of individual members - girls or adults - and is used to support troop program activities. Examples include: service unit, or troop holds a garage sale, or a troop provides babysitting at a community meeting and receives donations from parents using the service at a community event.
|Prerequisite: Requires prior participation in council-sponsored product program. |
Complete the online Money-Earning Application at least four weeks before activity
The direct solicitation of businesses, organizations or individuals asking for funds to support programs and/or activities of the organization. Fundraising is the responsibility of adults; girls are not allowed to ask for donations to fund their Girl Scout activities or to benefit other organizations. An example would be: girls doing a Gold Award project will speak at a local Soroptomist Club and the adults will ask for a donation to help fund their project after their speech.
Check with the GSNorCal Fund Development Department BEFORE soliciting a donation.
Donations of $250 or more MUST be received by the council to comply with IRS laws for charitable donations.
Sponsors are community organizations, businesses or individuals working in partnership with Girl Scouts to bring Girl Scouting to all girls. They may provide funding, volunteer time, equipment, or troop meeting space for troop activities. Examples include: a service unit, or troop holds meetings or an event in a space donated by a local organization, or a service unit, or troop receives any cash donation.
Complete the online Donation Form. Or
A gift of useful supplies, meeting space or services given in lieu of traditional cash donations to a non-profit organization. Examples include: Donuts and coffee are donated by a local grocery store, or anytime a service unit, or troop receives a donation of goods or services (supplies, food, equipment, etc).
|Complete the online Donation Form. www.gsnorcal.org/forms|
A business donates a percentage of their sales or profits when customers bring in promotional flyers distributed by the non-profit group. An example would be a service unit, or troop passes out flyers for a pizza night at a local restaurant. The restaurant in turn will donate a percentage of the proceeds for patrons who bring the flyer.
Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal) is a non-profit organization, and donations to GSNorCal must benefit our collective mission and not provide a private benefit to a specific individual girl. Pass-through donations for troops must go into the troop treasury and be used for the benefit of all girls in the troop. If the troop has decided, by a democratic process, to support an individual girl's Gold Award project, then pass-through donations to the troop may be used to support an approved Gold Award project based on the approved budget for that Gold Award project. For questions about donations to troops, please contact: Info@gsnorcal.org
Girls and their families should be part of the decision regarding financial contributions from families, rather than be assessed an amount decided on by the troop leader or adult leadership team. Care should be taken to ensure that the amount chosen is affordable by all families and that everyone understands that these donations are optional. Girl Scouting should be an activity that is affordable for all girls in the troop.
Encourage girls to designate a portion of their troop treasury for the annual national membership dues of the members. This practice enables girls to meet membership dues and lessens the potential burden to members.
Remember that charging girls and their families for opting out of participating in product sales, other troop activities and/or volunteering for the troop are not allowed.
It’s a great idea to have the girls pay dues. Families often think it’s easier to just give a flat amount at the beginning, however collecting dues offer some great benefits to the girls:
- They can do special chores at home to earn the money.
- They have to remember to bring the dues, and keep track of the money (good to have them practice that before they get older and have to carry larger amounts).
- They can take turns being “treasurer”—they have to collect the money and count it up to make sure it balances.
- Handling money and building financial literacy skills is part of our Girl Scout program.
Here’s a fun idea: Start out every meeting with clothespins marked with girls’ names attached around the rim of a large can. As the girls enter, they attach their clothespin to their dues and drop it into the can. If a girl forgot her dues then she just drops the empty clothespin in the can. If a clothespin is left attached to the can, that girl is absent. Marking attendance/dues is easy for the girls!
Groups earn money for their troop in two distinct ways:
|1. GSNorCal's Product Program of Girl Scout–authorized products (the Fall Product Programs offering nuts, candies, and magazines, and the Cookie Program in the spring), organized by GSNorCal. All girl members who take part in any way of Girl Scouting (troop, camp, travel, etc.), including Daisies, are eligible to participate in council-sponsored product-sale activities, with volunteer supervision. Please remember: volunteers and GSNorCal staff don’t sell cookies and other products—girls do. [GIRL SCOUT PROGRAM: Product Sales Program].||2. “Troop money-earning” refers to activities organized by the group (not by the council) that are planned and carried out by girls (in partnership with adults) and that earn money for the troop. For information about money-earning projects click here: [MONEY: Money-Earning Projects]|
Girls’ participation in both council-sponsored product activities and group money-earning projects is based upon the following:
- Voluntary participation
- Written permission of each girl’s parent or guardian
- An understanding of (and ability to explain clearly to others) why the money is needed
- An understanding that money-earning should not exceed what the group needs to support its activities
- Observance of local ordinances related to involvement of children in money-earning activities, as well as health and safety laws
- Vigilance in protecting the personal safety of each girl [SAFETY-WISE]
- Arrangements for safeguarding the money
There are a few specific guidelines—some required by the Internal Revenue Service—that ensure that sales are conducted with legal and financial integrity:
- All rewards earned by girls through the product-sale activities must support Girl Scout program experiences (such as camp, travel, and program events, but not scholarships or financial credits toward outside organizations).
- Rewards are based on sales ranges set by councils and may not be based on a dollar-per-dollar calculation.
- One troop account will contain all monies earned through the product program and/or other council-approved troop money-earning efforts.
- Troops are encouraged to participate in council-sponsored product sales as their primary money-earning activity; any group money-earning shouldn’t compete with the Girl Scout Cookie Program or Fall Product Program. In order for troops to be approved to participate in any other money-earning activities, they must first participate in the council-sponsored product program at a minimum level.
- Written approval is obtained from GSNorCal before a group money-earning event occurs, using the Money-Earning Application Form at least 4 weeks before their planned project. Troops that have not met the minimum requirements for Fall Product Program and Cookie Programs will be denied participation in other money-earning activities.
- Girl Scouts forbids the direct solicitation of cash and product-demonstration parties.
- Girl Scouts only allows games of chance under very limited and specific circumstances. Examples of games of chance include raffles, contests, and bingo. [MONEY: Money-Earning Projects Approval Required]
- Group money-earning activities need to be suited to the age and abilities of the girls and consistent with the principles of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, ensuring girl/adult partnership in planning and participation.
- Money earned is for Girl Scout activities for girls and is not to be retained by individuals nor used for adult experiences (other than for required adults in adult-to-girl ratios). Girls can, however, be awarded incentives and/or may earn credits from their Girl Scout product sales through their Reward Cards.
- Troop leaders will communicate girl-led decisions with regard to participation, money-earning and planned activities to parents and troop families and any later incoming girl members to fund the agreed-upon plans.
- Troop leader will document and share these guidelines with the girls and troop families.
- In cases where troop funds will not cover the full cost of a planned activity, particularly, in the case of extended troop travel, parents who want their girls to participate will cover the balance of their daughters' costs.
- In cases where girls have left the troop and will not longer be participating in troop trips or activities, funds will remain in the troop.
- In cases where new girls are added to the troop and these new girls wish to participate in in-progress trips and activities, parents/guardians will be asked to cover their daughter's costs to account for monies that other girls have already earned prior to the new girls' arrival.
Funds acquired through troop money-earning projects must be reported and accounted for by the group when completing their yearly Troop Finance Report, while following GSNorCal procedures.
Projects Benefitting another Organization
Troops/girls CAN provide community service to another organization by collecting supplies to aid the organization or distributing information related to the organization's mission.
Troops/girls CAN invite the organization to set up a booth at the troop's event to talk with people directly. At the troop's event, the organization could accept donations made directly to them.
Girls CAN collect money to carry out a Gold/Silver/Bronze award project that may be an activity that directly benefits an organization. It's the Girl Scout activity that is being funded through their efforts. Girl earning their Gold Award should wait for project approval before beginning their fundraising.
Girls may also choose to contribute their funds to another non-profit organization that the girls have developed an interest in through their Take Action or community service projects. In order for this to happen, these guidelines must be met:
- There is no conflict of interest. Any person or persons responsible for the transfer of the donated funds must not personally (their families, friends, associates, etc.) benefit in any way. Example: The donated funds are used to purchase equipment to benefit a non-profit organization that one of their troop families is affiliated with.
- There is no misuse of donated charitable resources by the receiving non-profit. Should the non-profit organization that is receiving the funds have publicized financial difficulties, the troop could not donate to this organization. Even though the donated funds may not in fact be misused, the overall perception of the receiving organization trumps the reality. There could be serious trouble for the troop, and our council, if we were put in a position of having to justify the support of an ailing organization. The receiving non-profit organization should be vetted by the troop.
- There is no question that donating the funds in any way will imperil the troop or Council's financial health. In other words, the donation must be within the realm of good judgement, and not excessive or over the top.
The two money-earning activities pre-approved by GSNorCal are the Girl Scout Product Program - the Fall Product Program (nuts, candies, and magazines) in October/November and the Cookie Program in February/March. Product Programs are first and foremost programs for girls to gain skills in financial literacy and goal setting. No Money-Earning Application Form is needed.
For other non-council money-earning activities, the troop must submit the Money-Earning Application Form which will be reviewed by your VDM/MM (council staff member) for approval at least four weeks prior to your proposed money-earning activity date(s). The document serves as a written plan that incorporates the Girl Scout Program.
Money-Earning Project Requirements
1. Minimum Participation in Product Programs
In order for a troop to participate in any additional money-earning activities, it must have participated in the Fall and/or Cookie Programs within the last 12 months. At a minimum, a troop must sell an average of 48 items per registered girl in any combination of the Fall and/or Cookie Programs. This does not mean that each girl must sell 48 items, but rather that the troop must average 48 items per registered girl. Money-earning projects cannot take place during Fall Product Program and Cookie Program campaigns.
2. Financial Need
If the troop still needs additional money to support program activities, they might consider doing an additional money-earning activity. Troops should come up with a budget for their planned projects or trip before engaging in additional money-earning activities.
3. Suited to Girls' Ages & Abilities
Troop money-earning activities need to be suited to the ages and abilities of the girls and consistent with the principles of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
4. Project Meets Guidelines
There are a few specific guidelines—some required by the Internal Revenue Service—that ensure that sales are conducted with legal and financial integrity. To that end, consider the information below when having a money-earning activity with your troop/group.
Examples of Money-Earning Projects
Product sales are a great way to earn the funds necessary for girls to travel or carry out Take Action projects. If income from the product program isn’t enough,
however, girls have more options available to them. Although you cannot resell products, you can offer services, such as the following:
- Recycle Items
- Christmas Trees
- Aluminum cans
- Glass Bottles
- Refurbished Cell Phones
- Provide themed meals, like high tea, Mexican dinner, or an Evening in Savannah
- If girls are earning money for travel, tie the meal to their destination
- Host a community or service unit event
- Must advertise that this is a money-earning project by the troop for their specific project
- Bottled water at high school graduation
- Babysitting for holiday (New Year’s Eve), service unit, or council events
- Raking leaves, weeding, cutting grass, shoveling snow, walking pets
- Holiday Gift Wrapping
Examples of Money-Earning Projects That WILL NOT Be Approved
- Sale of another organization's commercial products
- This includes product demonstration parties, coupon books, candy bars, or any other non-Girl Scout products
- Crowd Source Funding
- Activities that raise money for other organizations such as walk-a-thons, telethons or similar activities
- GSUSA guidelines forbid girls from the direct solicitation of cash (fundraising). Girls can accept payment for Girl Scout cookies or fall sale products.
Money-Earning Events Which May Not Be Approved
Money-Earning Projects During the Fall Product Program or Cookie Program
Money-earning projects that are scheduled to take place during either of the two council-sponsored product programs, the Fall Product Program and the Cookie Program, will not be approved. Any project that would compete for the same customers/donors/participants as either of the product programs could hurt both efforts. Competing projects could also create negative publicity for the organization, or cause the public perception that Girl Scouting only participates in money-earning activities.
There may be money-earning projects that would not create such a conflict with the product programs. If you believe that is true of your project, please submit the Money-Earning Application Form. A member of our staff will contact you to review the details. A possible exception might be a Girl Scout event for current members that is not open to the public. In these situations, the troop must also be participating in the Fall or Cookie Programs currently in progress.
Games of Chance
Girl Scouts discourages the use of games of chance. Any activity which could be considered a game of chance (raffles, contests, bingo) must be conducted in compliance with all local and state laws. Because raffles are subject to many state and federal regulations, raffles are generally not allowed for troops or service units for raising funds. Because troops and service units are not legal entities, they would not be able to comply with the requirements of the regulatory agencies. If you believe that your situation would be an exception (such as a raffle to benefit the council or council properties), contact the Fund Development Department for guidance before beginning your project at Info@gsnorcal.org. GSNorCal, as a registered non-profit, must apply for a special raffle permit each year with the State Board of Equalization and then report on the event’s income and expenses. We are only allowed to file one report each year (with all raffle events listed).
Alcohol is not permitted at an event where the main objective is girl program. If girls are present where alcohol is served at an adult-only event (sponsored and run by adults), they must be supervised by an adult who is not consuming alcohol who is responsible for the girls’ safety and well-being.
GSNorCal's insurance carrier must be notified in advance if alcohol will be served at your event. Please notify the Risk Management Department at Insurance@gsnorcal.org. at least two weeks in advance and indicate:
- Date of the Event
- Where the Event will be Held
- The name & description of the event
- The name and contact information for the event organization or person responsible for the event
- How many adults are expected to be in attendance
- What kind of alcohol is being served
- Who will be serving the alcohol (for example, a caterer or vendor, etc.)
GSNorCal’s insurance policy only covers events if prior approval has been obtained from the insurance carrier. There are many local, state, and federal regulations involved, and several specific permits required when alcohol might be served or given as any sort of prize (auction or any type of prize) at any adult event. Contact Info@gsnorcal.org before beginning planning for such an event for guidance. In addition to placing the council in legal jeopardy, you may also be held personally liable if laws are inadvertently broken.
Silent auctions are only allowed in very limited circumstances. Ultimately, GSNorCal has to pay sales tax on those purchases.
If your troop or service unit would like to hold a Silent Auction:
- You must first get permission from the Fund Development Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- You must document the money-earning income on your Troop or Service Unit Finance Report.
- Records must be maintained:
- Fair market value of each donated item.
- If your troop is audited, you must provide a more detailed report of your event’s income and expenses.
- Buyers may only claim the amount they pay over the fair market value of the item as a tax-deductible gift. If the buyer wants tax acknowledgment for their donation above the fair market value, the troop or service unit must contact the Fund Development Dept. and they will produce an acknowledgment letter.
Why does it seem like other local non-profits do auctions all the time, and don’t have to follow the same rules?
Auctions are much more complicated behind-the-scenes than what we see happening at community events, and most people have no idea that silent auctions usually show a net revenue loss on paper because the items are often re-sold for less than fair market value. However, since GSNorCal is a large non-profit, our IRS filing requirements are different from what smaller non-profits file. Our fundraising event reports are also different based on our IRS tax filing status.
Girl Scouts is also a strong national brand, and we want to make sure we are protecting our non-profit status and being fully compliant with the IRS and local state laws. That means we also have to report our losses and pay owed sales tax. If we get caught avoiding that payment, we might have to pay penalty fees, too. Auctions are one of those activities that are a lot of work for little return on investment (time and money).
Money-Earning For Award Projects
Funds raised by girls who are earning their Gold, Silver, or Bronze Awards are to be deposited in the troop bank account. These funds must be restricted for the girls' award project only. The troop treasurer and/or troop leader are responsible for managing and accounting for the money of the troop or individual Gold, Silver, or Bronze Award girl, which requires accountabilities to the girls, their parents and GSNorCal.
Sometimes girls earning their Gold, Silver, or Bronze Awards need additional
financial resources to complete their projects.
A troop may decide to devote a portion of the troop's treasury to an
individual girl’s project, but it must be a decision by the girls in the troop.
The group must also decide on the method of deposit or disbursement of funds to
support an individual girl’s project. These discussions should be documented by
the troop leader should any questions come up later.
Money-Earning By Independently Registered Girls
Independently registered girls can and are encouraged to participate in the Product Programs. Girls can earn badges, girl rewards and gain support for their award project, travel, or other program activities. To participate, girls are buddied with a troop in their service unit. Some service units have a special troop designed for independent girls while other service units buddy them with a standard volunteer led troop. This buddy system is only for the duration of the product sale. The registration of the independent girl is not changed; she does not join the troop.
Girls can request financial support from the buddy troop—some portion of the troop earned proceeds resulting from the girl’s participation in the product sale. Girls never receive troop proceeds directly; troops do. The girls in the troop must vote to support the girl’s program activity. The amount of support is decided on by the troop and should not be directly reflective of the troop proceeds contributed by the girl’s sale.
Sponsors help GSNorCal ensure that all girls in the community have an opportunity to participate in Girl Scouting. Community organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and individuals may be sponsors and may provide group meeting places, volunteer their time, offer in-kind donations, provide activity materials, or loan equipment. The sponsor’s contribution can then be recognized by arranging for the girls to send thank-you cards, inviting the sponsor to a meeting or ceremony, or working together on a take-action project.
For information on working with a sponsor, consult the GSNorCal Fund Development staff at Info@gsnorcal.org. They can give you guidance on the availability of sponsors, recruiting responsibility, and other GSNorCal policies or practices that must be followed. GSNorCal already has relationships with certain organizations, or may know of some reasons not to collaborate with certain organizations.
When collaborating with any other organization, keep these additional guidelines in mind:
- Avoid fundraising for other organizations: Girl Scouts are not allowed to solicit money on behalf of another organization when identifying ourselves as Girl Scouts (such as wearing a uniform, a sash or vest, official pins, and so on). This includes participating in a walk-a-thon or telethon while in uniform. You and your group can, however, support another organization through Take Action projects. Girl Scouts, as individuals, are able to participate in whatever events they choose, as long as they’re not wearing anything that officially identifies them as “Girl Scouts.” When people purchase cookies, patronize a car wash, or donate money to a Girl Scout group, they believe their money is going to support girls in their Girl Scout activities. Therefore, when girls would like to support other organizations, they must make sure that the organization they are donating to meet the approval of the donors that have contributed to their cause. While exacting restrictions are not generally connected to most donations, the risk is that some donors might not approve of how their money is being used. It is important to be clear with donors on how the funds are being used.
- Steer clear of political fundraisers: When in an official Girl Scout capacity or in any way identifying yourselves as Girl Scouts, your group may not participate (directly or indirectly) in any political campaign or work on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office. Letter-writing campaigns are not allowed, nor is participating in a political rally, circulating a petition, or carrying a political banner.
- Be respectful when collaborating with religious organizations: Girl Scout groups must respect the opinions and practices of religious partners, but no girl should be required to take part in any religious observance or practice of the sponsoring group.
- Avoid selling or endorsing commercial products: “Commercial products” is any product sold at retail. Since 1939, girls and volunteers have not been allowed to endorse, provide a testimonial for, or sell such products.
GSNorCal maintains the official 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization. Note that service units and troops are not legal entities, and are not non-profit organizations by themselves. Girl Scout adults who wish to fundraise or apply for grants for GSNorCal (council, service unit, or troop) must work with our Fund Development Department staff to ensure that their solicitation is a part of the council’s overall fund development plan. Girls may not engage in fundraising activities.
GSNorCal has legal obligations in the solicitation of donations, including grant solicitation, as a non-profit organization. Donations must be routed through the GSNorCal accounting processes to ensure proper recording and accountability to protect its non-profit status. To satisfy IRS rules and sound accounting policy, all donations of $250 or more must be officially acknowledged by the non-profit organization.
GSNorCal likes to formally recognize donors in its annual report, and often donors would like to retain a record of their gift for tax purposes. Please submit donor information for a letter of acknowledgment to the Fund Development Department via the online Donation Form which can be found online at www.gsnorcal.org/forms
GSNorCal maintains the official 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization. Troops and service units are not legal entities, and are not non-profit organizations by themselves. As such, crowd source funding, like GoFundMe Accounts, are not allowed. Girl Scout adults who wish the fundraise or apply for grants for GSNorCal (council, service unit, or troop) must work with our Fund Development Department staff to ensure that their solicitation is a part of the council's overall fund development plan. Girls may not engage in fundraising activities.
Although Troops cannot create their own GoFundMe accounts, girls in the troop can vote to contribute troop earnings to specific GoFundMe campaigns, as long as the GoFundMe account has been vetted to determine its legitimacy and that there is no conflict of interest between the troop and the GoFundMe campaign, e.g., a troop parent's business would benefit from the contribution. The troop leader should document these decision-making discussions so that there are no misunderstandings later on. See [Money: Money-Earning Basics: Projects Benefiting another Organization] for more detail.
Donations From the Community
Community members or organizations can sponsor a group in a number of ways:
- Meeting Place
- Resource Materials
- Financial Support
If the sponsor requires a tax acknowledgment of their donated resources (an in-kind donation), submit the Donation Form to the Fund Development Department which will formally acknowledge the gift. www.gsnorcal.forms
Financial Gifts Made to or Designated to Troops/Groups
A donor who wishes to designate their gift or donate directly to a group should make their gift payable to the non-profit organization, Girl Scouts of Northern California, and it will be processed by GSNorCal and paid out to the designated group. Any financial gift to the Girl Scout organization, including to a troop/group, must be officially acknowledged. Additionally, gifts of $250+ must be acknowledged in accordance with IRS regulations. Submit the Donation Form to the Fund Development Department so that the gift is formally acknowledged. www.gsnorcal.org/forms.
If the check was made out to the troop and deposited locally, but the donor still needs tax acknowledgment, please submit the online Donation Form to the Fund Development Department for gift acknowledgement. You should print a copy of what you submit, and attach it to your annual Troop Financial Report. Any group requesting donations over $500 must contact the Fund Development Department at Info@gsnorcal.org PRIOR to securing the gift to avoid a duplicate request. The group must also provide a written plan and budget for its proposed use of these funds. This process is reviewed annually and is subject to change. For additional information about donations made to troops from families [MONEY: Contributions from Families].
(Also known as In-Kind Gifts or GIK). Gifts of goods or services in lieu of cash gifts are also considered donations. GSNorCal also retains information about these donors for recognition. Use the online Donation Form to record information about the gift both for the group’s acknowledgement to the donor, as well as additional acknowledgment by the Fund Development Department. The Donation Form is online at www.gsnorcal.org/forms GSNorCal has sample Gift-In-Kind solicitation and acknowledgment letters to help your group. Contact Info@gsnorcal.org for a Sample Letter and Sample Acknowledgement letter.
Wine / Alcohol Donations
There are many local, state, and federal regulations involved, and several specific permits required when alcohol might be served or given as any sort of prize (auction or any type of prize) at any adult event. Contact Info@gsnorcal.org before beginning planning for such an event for guidance. In addition to placing the council in legal jeopardy, you may also be held personally liable if laws are inadvertently broken.
Many businesses prefer to support non-profit organizations through programs where they agree to donate a percentage of their sales or profits when customers bring in promotional flyers distributed by the non-profit group. This is known as cause-related marketing and not fundraising.
Example: Girl Scout night at a local business or restaurant where GSNorCal (council, service unit, or troop) will be the beneficiary of the proceeds from patrons on a designated date. Girl Scouts might advertise a designated date at a local business or restaurant. The business agrees to donate a percentage of proceeds based on their business sales on that date. The patrons of the business attend to support the cause (Girl Scouts) but choose to buy a product from the business or restaurant, which is, therefore, not considered a donation to Girl Scouts. This type of event creates good visibility for GSNorCal in the community while also building partnerships with local businesses. Any group wishing to solicit a local business for this type of gift should review sponsorship guidelines and contact either Info@gsnorcal.org, or their local service unit, to ensure that duplicate requests have not already been made in a particular community.
Cause-Related Market Example: A Troop or Service Unit wants to raise money for a project and they contact a local restaurant who is willing to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Girl Scout organization. Here are two examples of cause-related marketing that commercial businesses offer – one example is acceptable according to GSUSA’s standards, and one example is not. Commercial companies want to utilize Girl Scouts’ community networks to ultimately attract more customers and benefit their business. We want to make sure that these partnerships are low-risk and that the girls will ultimately benefit from this community partner’s investment in Girl Scouts.
- Chipotle’s Fundraiser Night to benefit Girl Scouts: YES. The Chipotle’s Restaurant creates a flyer for distribution among the Girl Scout groups, and diners must present their flyer to ensure credit for their purchase is designated to Girl Scouts. Chipotle’s Restaurant is the actual donor because they provided diners with food in exchange for the customers’ money, and in turn they are donating their profits to the Girl Scout organization.
- Chipotle’s Gift Certificates for sale to benefit Girl Scouts: NO. Chipotle’s Gift Certificates are sold to a group at a discounted rate, and a portion of the cost is donated back to (or retained by) the Girl Scout group. The final certificate buyer (the customer) is receiving something in exchange for their money. This is the same as any product sale, but GSUSA’s standards do not allow the sale of any non-Girl Scout branded product. Girl Scout groups should avoid selling any non-Girl Scout branded products to avoid confusion about endorsing other companies and to avoid risk of loss to the Girl Scout troop or service unit who may have been pressured to fund the initial purchase.
Campaign For Girls
GSNorCal raises needed funds to support program activities and resources to all girls and leaders. GSNorCal does not require mandatory membership dues or fees (100% of the $25* membership dues paid at registration is sent to the national organization, GSUSA). It costs GSNorCal about $300/year per girl to deliver Girl Scouts to girls in volunteer-led troops. These dollars help GSNorCal support Girl Scout experiences, including maintaining camp properties, training new and experienced volunteers, developing online tools, conducting background screening for adults working with girls, and operating retail shops and program centers. We raise about $240 of this cost through program fees, camp fees, property rentals and product sales. The remaining $60 per girl requires fund raising - and that is why the Campaign For Girls is so important.
The GSNorCal Campaign For Girls is the way that families can help support not only their own daughter’s participation in the program, but also such items as The Guide activity calendar, camp properties, adult training at low-to-no cost to our volunteers, and much more. Gifts to support these efforts can be made directly to GSNorCal, or when you register online, update your membership information, or through our secure online donations webpage www.gsnorcal.org/donate-now
Employee Gifts, Volunteer Hours, Matching Gifts and United Way
Many employers offer a matching program for charitable gifts or participate in employee gift programs offered through agencies such as United Way. Please make sure to designate Girl Scouts of Northern California as your preferred gift beneficiary.
Sometimes employee gifts require additional approval by the employer in order to process gifts to GSNorCal. For questions or to get help with employers’ forms, contact Info@gsnorcal.org. We can sign, verify or validate any paperwork needed to set up the gift process.
Many companies and corporations offer matching gifts or volunteer-hour matching gifts to honor and support employees. This is a great way to maximize your gift to Girl Scouts. Ask your human resources department if it is an option for your company to match. The GSNorCal Fund Development Department will assist you with any additional paperwork that the employer provides or needs. For GSNorCal support, please email: Info@gsnorcal.org
Council Service Fee
A council service fee of $15 per girl is collected when girls register or renew their membership (there is no council service fee for adult members). The $25 annual membership dues goes directly to our national organization: Girl Scouts of the USA. GSUSA uses the membership fee to invest in national programs and to purchase Girl Scout activity insurance.
Our council, Girl Scouts of Northern California, does not receive any of the $25 national membership fee, but GSNorCal does receive the $15 per girl council service fee. The purpose of a council service fee is to help councils raise additional revenue in the face of rising costs. The council service fee helps us maintain properties and continue to invest in the technology and services that volunteers (and girls) want. On average, Girl Scouts of Northern California spends about $300 per girl member each year to pay for camps, technology, outreach programs, and all of the back-office services that support our volunteers. The $15 council service fee will help us keep Girl Scouts fun, strong, and safe in Northern California.
If GSUSA's membership dues or GSNorCal's council service fee are a financial hardship for a family, we encourage them to request financial aid. To do so, check the box to request financial aid on the 'Registration Summary' page during the online registration process.
Most families are well-aware of the benefits of Girl Scouting, and often are eager to defray the cost of providing Girl Scouting to their own daughter or to provide Girl Scouting for another girl.
|Cost of providing Girl Scouting for one girl:||$300|
|Funds raised through program and camp
fees, product sales and property rentals
|Amount needed per girl||$60|
The annual adult membership fee is $25. Adults do not pay a council fee.
Financial aid is available through GSNorCal for membership dues, basic uniform and program supplies, and programs like camp or destinations. If you have questions about financial assistance for additional program opportunities, or would like to donate to assist girls or troops, contact Info@gsnorcal.org
Girl Scouts of Northern California is the legal entity that may sign a contract on behalf of “Girl Scouts.” Troops and service units are not legal entities. Therefore, all contracts, agreements, Memorandums of Understanding and facility use forms that benefit or impose responsibility or potential liability on “Girl Scouts” must be approved and signed by authorized staff representatives of Girl Scouts of Northern California.
IS IT A CONTRACT?
|STEP ONE:||Ask: |
If yes to either question, then proceed to step 2.
If you need a GSNorCal staff signature:
Or, mail to:
Include the deadline for signing and where and to whom the signed contract should be sent.
Don’t wait until the last minute, as contracts may take 5-8 business days to review and sign. All contracts must be approved and signed in accordance with Board-established requirements. GSNorCal's Bylaws establish this requirement for GSNorCal’s protection.
Facilities Use Agreements for Certain School Districts
Many of the school districts in our council area are now using online reservation platforms like Facilitron, Civic Permits and School Dude to manage their room reservation requests. These platforms require Certificates of Insurance (COIs) from GSNorCal and contain legally binding language in their agreements.
Troop leaders can no book their reservations by following these instructions:
- Email Volunteerexperience@gsnorcal.org so that council can set up the account for you. Be sure to include your name, troop #, school district and school name.
Within 5-8 business days, your account will be set up and you'll be able to make and manage your reservations quickly and directly.
Please note that some reservation platforms, like Facilitron, now carry fees with them. These fees are being implemented by the individual school district that owns the meeting space (not Girl Scouts) and each troop is responsible for paying them when reserving these sites.
It is completely up to each troop to decide where it wants to meet. Troops should consider if they are willing and able to pay a fee or find a new and more financially feasible meeting place. If you have any questions about these fee schedules, please contact your local school district.
Contact email@example.com or 800-447-4472 if you have any questions.
Certificates of Insurance (COI)
Often facilities and vendors will request a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from GSNorCal when a troop has a meeting at a site or hosts a cookie booth in front of a business. This is a standard practice and is commonly requested in a contract. The COI proves to the property owner or vendor that GSNorCal is insured if property damage should incur while the Girl Scouts are using their facilities. Likewise, when planning events on behalf of GSNorCal (for example, volunteer-run camps, service unit events, high adventure activities with vendors, etc.), COIs are often needed to verify that an organization or location meets Girl Scouts’ insurance standards.
If the girls will participate in an activity defined as high adventure:
- The vendor or facility must supply the council with a Certificate of Liability Insurance for one million dollars or more
- The Certificate of Liability Insurance (COI) must read: "Girl Scouts of Northern California is named as additional insured on the General Liability Policy"
- The vendor or facility must complete the checklist relating to the high adventure activity they offer.
For more information, visit www.gsnorcal.org/coi
Paying for Services
If you will be hiring and/or paying a person to provide services of any kind, you must contact your VDM or Membership Manager (GSNorCal staff member), who will assist you in consulting with the Human Resources Dept. Your contract must be reviewed with GSNorCal prior to initiating the engagement. Allow at least four weeks for this process, which will include:
- Completion of Independent Contractor Checklist.
- Certificate of Liability Insurance is required for contractors who perform services requiring physical labor with exposure to higher incidence of work-related accidents such as construction, electrical, high adventure sports, or for contractors that provide food services.
- A Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required if Contractor engages other employees in the performance of the services.
Being Paid for Services
Sometimes a troop or service unit performs a service for a community group or event and is offered payment for their service, and may be asked to complete a W-9 form. Since troops and service units are not legal entities, they cannot receive earned income (which is taxable). Troops or service units or other Girl Scout groups may, however, accept a donation as a token of appreciation for their service. Follow guidelines for sponsorships and submit the Donation Form to the Fund Development Dept. so that the donor can be thanked for their donation.
Volunteers and GSNorCal staff are governed by state and local laws which require the safeguarding of girls’ and adults’ personal information. Safeguarding personal information refers to both:
- Confidentiality: preserving girls’ and/or adults’ privacy
- Integrity: safeguarding the accuracy and completeness of information and processing methods.
Members’ personal and sensitive personal information must be protected against all forms of unauthorized action, whether this is access, use, disclosure, modification, destruction, or denial of service. Failure to adequately protect members’ personal information could result in disciplinary action, loss of volunteer status, legal action, or could be referred to police or other law enforcement agencies in certain situations.
|Personal Information||Sensitive Personal Information|
|Includes, but is not limited to:||
|Volunteers and staff are legally responsible:
To safeguard all personal information:
To protect sensitive personal information, volunteers and staff must follow all guidelines for safeguarding personal information PLUS:
Regarding Credit Card Data:
|Type of Document||When to destroy (preferably by cross-cut shredder)|
|Paper Membership Forms (if girls or adults registered online, you will not have these)||
Discard at end of membership year.|
Troop leader blacks out credit card number on forms (if provided), and keeps all membership registration forms in a secure location.
|Health History Forms (Girl or Adult)||If girl or adult leaves troop, at end of membership year:|
Keep for up to two years.
If girl or adult remains with troop parents can date and initial the form within two months of an overnight activity or at beginning of next troop year to verify that the information is up to date or fill out a completely new form.
At time of troop disbandment:
Shred forms at the end of the membership year.
If a girl is injured or becomes ill while participating in a Girl Scout activity:
A copy of form must be forwarded to Risk Management at the GSNorCal Alameda office along with the Accident/Injury Report Form or Incident Report Form and GSNorCal will retain the form until the girl reaches 23 years of age.Camp Health Forms: All camp health forms and that year’s health logs and related documentation must be stored until 7 years after the age of majority. Return to GSNorCal for storage at the end of each season.
|Health Care Log||Until the youngest person receiving documented treatment reaches 23 years of age.|
|Trip Permission Forms||If a girl is injured or becomes ill while participating in a Girl Scout activity, copy of form must be forwarded to Risk Management at the GSNorCal Alameda office along with the Accident/Injury Report Form or Incident Report Form and GSNorCal will retain the form until the girl reaches 23 years of age.|
|Sensitive Issues Permission Form||Discard at end of membership year.|
|Troop Driver Form||A driver’s license number is considered sensitive personal information. As such, these forms should be kept under lock. Form should be destroyed when the adult leaves the troop, at the time of troop disbandment, or whenever a new replacement form is developed.|
|Troop Roster||Discard at beginning of next membership year when new roster is developed, or at time of troop disbandment.|
|Product Program Records||Until product programs are complete the following year, or at time of troop disbandment.|
|Bank Account Information||Bank account information is considered sensitive personal information. As such, keep in a locked location for 7 years.|
|Receipts for every expenditure||Retain for a minimum of 3 years.|
|Badge Records||If a girl leaves the troop, pass on to the parents to give to next leader. At time of troop disbandment, pass on to parents to keep.|
|Event Registration Rosters and Forms||After final event forms are submitted or retain for maximum of 1 year|
|Service Unit Rosters||Discard at beginning of next membership year when new roster is developed.|
|Other types of paperwork with include personal information||Retain for a maximum of 1 year.|
There are many benefits of using an online registration system for a service unit camp or event. If your troop is considering offering this option, you must ensure protection of credit card data in accordance with industry standards that are known as PCI Compliance.
Summary of Requirements
In order to proceed, you must acknowledge and agree to the following:
- If you are considering using online registration for your camp or event, or have any questions about online camp or event registration for your service unit or groups, please email Info@gsnorcal.org.
- Your service unit will comply with the GSNorCal PCI Compliance Requirements described in the PCI Compliance Information Packet and summarized here concerning credit card processing and protection of credit card data.
- Your service unit will comply with the contract requirements for online registration vendors as described in the Contracts section of the packet.
- All agreements with online registration vendors must be signed both by a representative of your service unit or group and by the CEO or CEO’s designee as described in the Contracts section of the packet.
- Your service unit will designate at least one volunteer who is responsible for compliance with the GSNorCal PCI Compliance Requirements (“PCI Compliance Volunteer”).
- The Camp Director or Event Manager and/or Registrar and PCI Compliance Volunteer will acknowledge, in writing, that they received and reviewed the GSNorCal PCI Compliance Requirements via the acknowledgement form attached as Appendix A in the PCI Information Packet.
- The PCI Compliance Volunteer will:
- Participate in up to 1 hour of training by GSNorCal about the GSNorCal PCI Compliance Requirements either in person or via conference call.
- Ensure that Camp and/or Event staff and all volunteers working with or on behalf of the Camp and /or Event are aware of the GSNorCal PCI Compliance Requirements and have procedures and guidelines in place
to ensure that these requirements are followed.
- Submit within 10 days after completion of the last Event or Camp session, the completed “PCI Compliance Report” check list, attached as Appendix B in the PCI information packet, verifying your compliance with the Girl Scouts of Northern California PCI Compliance Requirements.
If you are given someone’s credit card information, here is what you need to know:
- Any credit card data must be secured and locked up until it is processed, and then destroyed by cross-cut shredder.
- Credit card data must be processed for payment as soon as possible.
- Credit card data may not be saved or stored. This means that as soon as you have processed payment, the credit card data must be destroyed (cut out that section of the form, and destroy with cross-cut shredder).
- Under no circumstances should anyone photocopy, scan, fax, or otherwise electronically store or transmit copies of forms containing credit card data.
- Credit card data may not be sent by email under any circumstances. Faxing should also be avoided for security reasons.
- GSNorCal chooses NEVER to store or transmit any cardholder data or sensitive authentication data electronically in order to meet PCI compliance requirements and to ensure member and cardholder data is not compromised.