GoFundMe is a NoGo for Girl Scout Troops

(This blog originally written for Girl Scouts of Citrus Council.)

Tons of online fundraising and crowdsourcing tools are popping up left and right, and GoFundMe is still one of the most popular. It’s great for personal fundraising or for a local cause or event, but guess what: it’s not allowed for Girl Scout troops. Here’s why:

Girl Scouts nationwide are governed by a set of rules called the Blue Book of Basic Documents [available here]. It includes our constitution, bylaws, policies, and standards. Many volunteers have never seen this document because, well, it doesn’t really affect your day-to-day activities in Girl Scouts. The council staff ensure that we’re all in compliance with this basic set of rules, and let YOU have all the fun and focus on the resources written for you: Safety Activity Checkpoints and Volunteer Essentials (contact your council for specific versions).

In the Policies section, the Blue Book says:

SOLICITATION OF CONTRIBUTIONS

Adult members in their Girl Scout capacities may not solicit financial contributions for purposes other than Girl Scouting. Adults may engage in combined fundraising efforts authorized by the Girl Scout council and in which the local council is a beneficiary. Girl members may not engage in any direct solicitation for money.

The first sentence there doesn’t really apply to GoFundMe accounts, but #2 and #3 do. The second sentence states that adult volunteers may help out with fundraising efforts of the council, where the council is receiving the funding. This implies that volunteers may not solicit funds, however, for their own troop. The third sentence is pretty clear: girls should never participate in directly asking for money.

So what CAN you do? Money-earning activities.

"Group 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 group.

Money earning activities may include…

Collections/Drives:

  • Cell phones for refurbishment
  • Used ink cartridges turned in for money
  • Christmas tree recycling

Food/Meal Events:

  • Lunch box auction (prepared lunch or meal auctioned off)
  • Themed meals, like high tea, Indian meal, Mexican dinner (if girls are earning money for travel, tie the meal to their destination)

Service(s):

  • Service-a-thon (people sponsor a girl doing service; funds go to support trip)
  • Babysitting for holiday (New Year’s Eve) or council events
  • Raking leaves, weeding, cutting grass, shoveling snow, walking pets
  • Cooking class or other specialty class

The best way to earn money for your group is to start with Girl Scout cookie activities and other council-sponsored product sales. From there, your group may decide to earn additional funds on its own.

There are a few specific guidelines—some required by the Internal Revenue Service—that ensure that sales are conducted with legal and financial integrity. These guidelines must be followed to ensure that Girl Scout councils maintain their non-profit status and remain compliant with all applicable laws and responsibilities. See Chapter 5 of Volunteer Essentials for all the details.

Most councils require that troops interested in conducting money-earning activities submit a request form or application for approval, 30-90 days prior to the activity taking place. Contact your council for details and/or the specific form.