Dear Troop Cookie Volunteer,
Thank you for your patience as Girl Scouts River Valleys staff worked through the ever-changing steps and requirements of the Cookie Program during this challenging time in all our lives. Your grace, understanding, and positive messages have meant so much to us, and we appreciate and recognize how hard you are working for girls.
This is an unprecedented time, and it calls for an unprecedented response. The COVID-19 pandemic shortened and limited the 2020 Cookie Program, and to prevent passing the financial burden on to troops, Girl Scouts River Valleys will credit troops and Juliettes for unsold cookie inventory this year. We are fortunate that our council was as far along in a successful cookie program as we were, and that we are able to accept returns.
We also recognize that many individual girls and troops are frustrated that they could not achieve all of their program goals; we are too. As a council, we will also not achieve our participation, program, and revenue goals and will have to adjust our budgets and operational plans accordingly. We are all part of the greatest girl-led business in the world—and it truly is a business. Sometimes situations prevent us from executing our best-laid plans.
But we are all Girl Scouts, and we are resilient. We will come through this stronger than ever, with your tireless support for girls and in partnership with families, volunteers, and staff.
It took a while to iron out all these details, but we’re pleased to provide you with instructions for closing out this year’s program and processing returns. The short version is that we’ve made the decision to ask troops to donate their unsold inventory and provide us with a receipt of this donation as their return. This seems like the more convenient and relatively more safe option between several logistically difficult scenarios. We know it means continued work for you, and we thank you again for your patience. Here goes!
Note: When the word“ return” is used, it means the amount of unsold cookies you will be donating, after which we will process it as a return (meaning troops will not be financially responsible).
Part 1: Determine what you need to return
Deadline: April 18
- Work with the troop families to find out the total number of packages by variety that they did not sell this season.
- Then, complete a Girl-to-Troop transfer in Smart Cookies to remove the cookies from the girl’s inventory. This relieves them of financial responsibility for the packages.
- Review the girl’s cookie total and complete her reward order.
Note: You do not need to have the cookies in-hand by this date, but you will need to remove the packages from the girl’s totals for her reward order to be correct.
Part 2: Let us know what you’ll be returning
Deadline: April 18
- Submit this Cookie Return Form to let us know what your troop will be donating.
This number should be the same total as your Troop On-Hand Inventory Report in Smart Cookies. If the total submitted in this form is greater than your troop on-hand inventory, we will reach out to you to help work through the error. The Cookie Return Form is used so we can work out any inventory issues with your troop that may impact cookie rewards.
Important: This form is different than the previous one submitted, and it should be the actual number your plan to return, not an estimate. Totals from the previous return form estimate will not transfer to the new form.
Part 3: Donate your cookies
Deadline: June 1* (formerly May 15, updated May 7)
- Donate cookies to a nonprofit organization that is aligned with the Girl Scout mission. See Troop Return Donation Guidelines for ideas of potential organizations and additional guidance on selecting a location. Please remember to follow all social distancing and/or stay-at-home orders when making these donations. Many of the partners we have spoken with are accepting contactless donations.
- Complete a Cookie Return Donation Receipt and have it signed by the recipient.
Part 4: Submit your receipt
Deadline: June 1* (formerly May 15, updated May 7)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org a copy of the signed Cookie Return Donation Receipt. Include your troop number and “Return Donation Receipt” as the subject line of your email. Once your paperwork is received, Girl Scouts River Valleys will complete a transfer removing these cookies from your troop, which will relieve your troop of financial responsibility for the cookies. Please allow two business days for this work to be completed.
*This date is subject to change, depending on state stay-at-home orders in place
If your troop does not have unsold inventory, the steps above are not necessary. Simply make your girl reward selections in Smart Cookies (if needed) by April 18 and ensure all cookie money is deposited into the troop bank account before the ACH dates.
Key Dates & May 6 Partial ACH Debit
We also want to make you aware that the ACH on May 6 will be a partial debit of $1 per package of the final ACH. This allows us more time to complete the donations, track the receipts, and help troops reconcile their inventory before an additional, final ACH is conducted on May 29.
As always, if you anticipate challenges with your accounting, banck account, or the ACH, please fill out a Finance Inventory Issue Form by May 15, and our staff will help you.
Here are a few answers to questions for certain situations that may arise:
I am unable to gather cookies from all girls/families by the deadline. Can families to make the donation themselves?
Yes, but all donation receipts for the troop will need to be submitted together in one email to council.
If you don’t get a receipt from a family, then fill out the Finance Inventory Issue Form for the balance due from the family.
What if my troop or families are not comfortable leaving their homes to complete the donation?
If your troop is not able to get the inventory from families, then fill out a Finance Inventory Issue Form for a balance due from a family.
If you are not comfortable or able to leave your home before June 1, then fill out a Finance Inventory Issue Form for excess inventory.
My troop doesn’t have access to a printer to print the donation receipt, what do I do?
Please ask the donation recipient if they can print the receipt, or email email@example.com and we can print and mail it to your troop.
My troop did a contactless delivery to a donation partner and they are/were not able to sign the receipt, how should I report this?
Please take a photo of the donation as you are making it at the location and include the photo in your email with the donation receipt. If you are not able to take a photo, ask the donation partner to send a confirmation email and forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will the rewards criteria change for girls and troops?
No, the criteria for earned rewards will not change. Rewards that were in-person experiences (exception: Valleyfair Gold Pass) have been swapped for gift certificates to be used when those events (or similar) are rescheduled. Cookie Credits are an option at several reward levels and the expiration dates have been extended for an additional year. Camp Coupons have also been given an extended expiration date. The rewards budget is tied directly to the number of packages sold, and rewards are ordered after the program is concluded; therefore the budget does not allow additional changes. We realize this may be disappointing to girls and troops, but it is one of the realities of the cookie business.
Where to Find More Information
Please feel free to connect with us if you have any additional questions. Another good resource is the 5 Steps to Wrap-up the Cookie Program Guide to the steps, and as always the Cookie Press is where we collect frequently asked questions. We are also providing Smart Cookies Virtual Support Sessions if you would like to schedule 1-on-1 time with a member of our staff.
Thank you again for being partners, volunteers, and always in girls’ corner.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Jen Thorson, Chief Operating Officer
Susan Andersson, Product Program Director and the entire Product Program Team