How to Create a Strong Budget for Your Troop
At Girl Scouts, we want every troop to be able to accomplish all of the awesome things Girl Scouts dream up! But, as usual, most of those things cost money. So, how can we ensure that your troop is able to do all of these amazing things without breaking the bank? With a strong troop budget!
To help you plan out your troop’s finances, we’ve got two great resources for you.
First, we recommend checking out the Troop Finances: An Essential Guide infographic, which walks you through the main expenses your troop will have, as well as recommendations of how to pay for them.
Then, once you’ve got a general idea of what your troop budget will look like, download the Troop Budget template! It’s hosted on Google Sheets, but you’re welcome to download it as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet if that’s more comfortable for you.
As always, make sure your year plan is girl-led! Have the girls determine what they want to do, and plan the budget around those goals. Depending on your troop, this might also be an awesome lesson in financial literacy, so have them help out with the budget planning as well!
Plan out your troop’s expenses.
We find it helpful to break each expense down into four categories.
Troop Program Expenses
Start with your troop program expenses. We have found that troops tend to spend about 65% of their budget on troop program expenses, but you’re welcome to do more or less, depending on what your girls decide!
This will include service unit activities, council activities, field trips, overnights, camping, and more!
If you’re using the Troop Budget template, fill in the Troop Program Expenses with the name of each activity (including dates, to keep yourself organized), the cost per participant, and the number of people attending. If the registration costs for girls and adults are different, separate the activity into two rows: one row for girls, and one row for adults.
Each year, all Girl Scout members (girls and volunteers) must renew their membership. As the first and largest girl-led organization in the world, a Girl Scout membership is one of the most valuable investments anyone can make in a girl’s life.
Depending on your troop setup, you may decide to cover the membership fees of the girl and/or adult members in your troop. We personally think this is a great use of troop cookie earnings! It can also make life a bit easier for parents.
Whether you use troop funds or have parents pay for membership, we’ve found membership fees take up about 14% of a typical troop’s budget. If you’re using the Troop Budget template, this expense will be calculated for you based on the number of girls and adults in your troop!
P.S. If a girl in your troop can’t pay her membership fee, please contact us! Financial assistance is available. Call 888.350.5090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Uniforms, Badges, and Insignia
What’s more iconic than a Girl Scout uniform? Hardly anything!
As your girls work hard throughout the year to earn badges, make sure you’re including the cost of their uniforms, badges, and insignia in your troop budget! These costs will be slightly higher for first-year troops, as well as troops who have just bridged to Brownie, Junior, or Cadette, as you’ll need a new sash or vest and new insignia for each girl. Overall, however, we’ve found that these costs typically take up about 16% of troop budgets.
As you’re planning out these expenses, decide whether the troop will be funding these costs or if parents will be covering them. We’ll talk more about different options in the income section below!
Snacks, Supplies, & Other Costs
And finally, we’ve got all of the other small costs your troop incurs throughout the year, which total about 5% of the average troop budget. Things like snacks, meeting supplies, transportation to and from events, insurance, etc. should be factored into your budget (as best as possible) at the beginning of the year.
Don’t forget to include each of these items in your copy of the Troop Budget template!
Figure out how your troop will cover these expenses.
Now that we’ve done the fun part, let’s figure out how to cover all of these expenses! There are a few different options, and your plan depends entirely on the makeup of your troop, so mix and match depending on your troop’s needs!
Often, troops have parents and caregivers pay dues each year to cover troop expenses. Typically, dues cost between $30 and $100 per year.
Some troops have high dues, where council-sponsored product sales and high dues paid up-front by parents cover a bulk of the troop’s annual expenses. Conversely, other troops have low dues up-front, and cover other costs, like uniforms, trips, and Girl Scout books, as they go.
Both are great options, so determine which is best for the parents in your troop! Please keep in mind that no girl should be denied membership in a troop or have her participation restricted if she is unable to pay.
In your Troop Budget, there are a few different rows in the Dues section. If you opt for high dues up-front, simply use one line and put in the cost of the dues. If you’re opting for low dues, include one line for dues, as well as other lines for the other expenses that caregivers will be covering.
What if a girl in your troop can’t afford the dues? If just one girl in your group can’t afford the dues, try to balance your budget to absorb the costs into the overall troop expenses. If more than one girl has financial barriers to paying dues, perhaps the dues fee is too high. If that’s the case, we recommend encouraging more girls to participate in the Fall Product Program and Cookie Program to balance your troop budget. We want to be a sister to every Girl Scout and make sure every girl has access to Girl Scouting!
Girl Scout Cookie Program
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is an awesome way to earn money to cover your annual troop expenses!
Use the Troop Budget template to plan out your cookie earnings for next year. When you input the number of girls selling cookies and your troop profit per box of cookies, it will show you how many boxes each girl would need to sell to cover the remainder of your troop’s expenses, after any dues you’ve already put in.
(Did you know that renewing during Early Bird and participating in the Fall Product Sale increases your cookie earnings by $0.05 per package?)
Once you’ve discovered how many boxes your troop would need to sell, decide on how many boxes will actually be sold, and you’ll see what expenses still need to be covered!
Fall Product Program
Similarly, if your troop plans to sell during the Fall Product Program, you can plan out your earnings! First, you’ll calculate how much revenue each girl would need to bring in to cover your remaining troop expenses, based on the troop profit of 10%. Then decide on the actual goal per girl, and the spreadsheet will show you how much is left to be covered!
Other Council-Approved Money-Earning Activities
And finally, if you still have expenses that need to be covered after dues, the Girl Scout Cookie Program, and the Fall Product Program, your troop can participate in other council-approved money-earning activities!
These can include collections and drives, talent shows, themed dinners, car washes, and more! Let your girls get creative with their money-earning activities — the more they plan it, the more excited they’ll be about it!
Just remember, your troop must get approval from council before any group money-earning events. To get approval, fill out the Approval for Troop / Group Money Earning Project form to your service unit chair.
For all of the guidelines on money-earning activities, check out pages 59-60 of Volunteer Essentials!
Ready to plan out next year? Get your Girl Scouts together to decide what awesome adventures you’ll be taking next year! And don’t forget to grab the free Troop Budget template to assist you along the way!