Girl Scouts’ “Digital Cookie” Keeps Sales in Members’ Hands

Thin Mint lovers, rejoice! The Girl Scouts of the USA is ready to bring a longtime fundraising workhorse online, but the group is working to ensure that individual Scouts are still the face of the famous annual cookie sale.

There’s a reason why it took the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) two decades after the launch of Amazon to start selling its iconic cookies online—and it had everything to do with its girls.

To put it simply, selling the cookies that help fund Girl Scout troops in communities nationwide can’t be like Amazon’s faceless operation. A key ingredient in the cookie-selling (and cookie-buying) experience involves  the Scouts themselves, who put a face on the mega-fundraiser. So Digital Cookie, the new GSUSA program announced Monday, will take the old shoe-leather sales approach online while keeping the girls front-and-center and allowing local troops to maintain control of their own sales. And if participating Scouts and troops learn a thing or two about online marketing and selling along the way, so much the better.

Digital Cookie comes after a period in which the Girl Scouts didn’t allow such sales. There were various reasons for the delay, including safety and strategy.

“A lot of people have asked, ‘What took you so long to get online?’ We spend a lot of time thinking how do we make this safe, scalable, and smart,” GSUSA Chief Communications Executive Kelly Parisi said, according to the Associated Press.

The result of the hard work mixes two strategies: one, a Kickstarter-style approach that allows Scouts to email buyers a link to a personalized website; and, two, a mobile app that allows for in-person ordering. It’s an either-or option; some troops will go the website route, others will sell via the apps. The cookies can either be shipped or delivered in person.

That means you can’t go to the Girl Scouts website and just buy a box. But it also means the Scouts themselves can sell cookies far beyond the reach of their local community—and make more money for their local troops. And, in the process, the Scouts learn skills that the original program taught, such as money management and business ethics, along with new digital ones.

“Digital Cookie is a game-changer for Girl Scouts, and a quantum leap forward in the evolution of the cookie program, coupling traditional sales activities with an online sales experience that teaches skills like online marketing and e-commerce, all in a digital space that puts an emphasis on learning, fun, and safety,” GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez said in a news release. “If you buy Girl Scout Cookies online this year, you could be helping to prepare the next female leader of a global tech giant who changes our world forever.”


(Girl Scouts handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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