Yikes! You have to have a bank account for your troop but where do you get the money to start that? Surely the leader doesn’t have to pony up the money to start a bank account. And you are correct. During your training you will learn all about the procedures to open a troop bank account but that pesky cash can be eluding. A few things you can do are to charge each girl in your troop one time or monthly dues. You can also participate in one of the council fundraisers. Councils generally have two fundraisers each year, one of them is the ever loved cookies. This will give you the cash you need to get your account up and running.
When choosing a bank for your troop account, first check with your bank and see how they handle non-profit accounts. What is the minimum opening deposit, monthly charges, minimum balance, inactivity fees and other similar questions. If you don’t like what your bank has to say, call around to other banks. My personal bank only asked for $100 to open an account, no minimum balance, no monthly fees, no inactivity fees and we got a debit card to boot!
I hear some of you yelling at the screen already! We live in a low income area where parents can’t afford the dues to start the account and the council fundraiser is three months off. What do we do about that? I have some tips for that too! The bulk of my troops account goes to snacks, crafts, badges and trips.
For snacks you could ask one girl to bring a snack to the meeting. Something small and simple. We had a plain lunchbox that the girls decorated at the first meeting so they could bring the snacks in it. At the end of the meeting the lunchbox went home with the next girl who was to bring snacks. Depending on the parents in your troop it could be home baked cookies or something store bought. Find out about allergies also! Make any allergies (peanut, wheat, etc…) well known to the parents so no one is left out. Put a note in the lunchbox!
For crafts, look around your house. If you are inspired to be a Girl Scout leader then there is a good chance you’ve got a crafty side too. Glue, pipe cleaners, pompom’s, crayons, markers, construction paper is sure to be lurking all over your house. Tell your Girl Scout parents that you are putting together a craft box for the troop and any odd craft supplies they have would be helpful. I promise your craft box will fill up quick once parents start helping you collect stuff. Then you work your crafts around the supplies you have. Your craft box can be a cardboard box, a plastic tote or whatever else you have on hand. I use zip lock bags to keep smaller items together (wiggle eyes, beads, pompoms and such) inside the box.
Trips are fairly easy too! Where does your troop want to go, see or do? There are tons of free things that can be done in your community. Trips to the fire station, police station, hospital, library, book store, gym, museum can all be fun, informational and free. It only requires transportation to them. Check with each location and find out what days and times are available for your field trips.
For the badges troops vary on this too. Some troops have the parents buy the badges. Other troops charge the parents for the badges, then the leader buys them all at once. The third option is the troop pays for all badges. This will all depend on how many badges you earn and how much money is in the troop account. I personally have the troop purchase all badges that the troop did together. For events/field trips I charge the parents $1 to cover the cost of the badge at the time of the trip. It is much easier to get $1 out of a parent once a month than $10 or $15 all in a lump sum. Girls are also able to earn badges on their own, but I have the parents buy those badges themselves.
In addition to the council fundraisers you are also able to do your own bake sales, yard sales and other fundraisers. Talk with your council about the rules that go along with outside fundraisers. In my council there is a permission form our troop has to fill out along with the details. Our fundraiser can’t fall in the United Way blackout dates or during a council fundraiser. Your Membership Specialist can guide you through this process.
When you just stop and think outside of the box a bit, you will find all kinds of things to do and ways to have fun that won’t cost you a cent.