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Chapter 5.7: Council Fundraising and Fund Development

Each and every girl and adult member has a unique story to tell about how  Girl Scouting has made an impact on their  lives. Girl Scouting is about learning and exploring in their troop; developing leadership skills, building self-confidence, practicing and learning strong values; enjoying outdoor adventures at camp; and interacting with caring Girl Scout volunteers like you.

Girl Scouting makes a difference in the lives of thousands of girls and adults. Girl Scouts benefit their communities as well – not just by building leaders of character for the future, but right away. Girls united are strong, and when they decide to take action, the consequences are significant. The greater community of Girl Scout supporters united is strong, also. Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains is an incorporatd 501(c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for planning, soliciting and stewardship of the charitable support that funds our mission. The GS-TOP Development Department supports the Board, CEO, Staff and Volunteers in the delivery of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) in a planned and collaborative way by mobilizing public and private financial and other resources to fund the GSLE program, maintain and improve council owned properties, and to fund other strategic priorities of the Board of Directors.

From a legal perspective, subordinate units (troops, service unites, alumnae) are a subdivion of the council, and GS-TOP is the only distinct legal entity with tax exemption. This means that GS-TOP must oversee the fundraising activities of the subordinate units to ensure good practices, fundraising methods and procedures to comply with federal, state and local laws.

Last year 22% of the council budget came from Individuals, Corporations, Businesses, Foundations, (26) United Ways, Civic and Professional Groups and other Nonprofits. Because financial support for GS-TOP is derived from the broader community, members benefit from this generosity so it’s important for adult volunteers, girls and their families to understand the critical role they play in partnership with the council every year. Sometimes girls and adult volunteers are asked to participate in United Way hearings or community activities.

Across the council volunteers and staff members are working with these sources in a planned way to generate funding. Coordinating council relations with the community and cultivating support is important to our success. Please be mindful of the impact your actions have individually, and the potential we have when working together to support the girls.

The following key points will help you understand the council and your unique obligations. Development Staff are available to discuss a situation or support your work.


These activities are implemented by adults and are selected and planned to raise money for a program, project or situation by the council. Girls may be involved by providing assistance with parts of the activity but girls are not allowed to ask for money through a fundraising program.

Special Events

Special Events are planned by the council and proceeds from them fund the GSLE program. Council sponsored fundraising events are a great way for volunteers and the community to see the good work of Girl Scouts in action and to bring visibility to our council and members. Wherever possible girls and adult volunteers are invited to participate in these events through public speaking, guest relations or to help with logistics – these experiences provide a great learning opportunity.

Events are hosted by the council and implemented by volunteer committees and staff on an annual basis by region. GS-TOP signature events are:

  • Women of Distinction – Lunch or dinner honoring outstanding women, business leaders or companies supporting the Girl Scout mission.
  • Desserts First – Showcases desserts made by local chefs using girl Scout cookies and gives the council an opportunity to highlight this special program
  • Juliette Circle – An annual recognition program for donors and other potential supporters giving $1,000 or more annually to the council.

Annual Giving

Anyone (girl household or adult) may make a direct gift to the council when registering for the first time or renewing membership. Simply check the appropriate box on the registration form and make your gift. It’s that easy! REMEMBER, membership registration fees do not go to support Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains – those fees are sent directly to Girl Scouts USA.

Several times throughout the year the council will send by mail or email opportunites for parents, volunteers and alumnae to give financially to support special financial assistance programs. Every dollar is greatly appreciated. Many volunteers also pass these opportunities along to friends and family.

The Family Philanthropy Program

Purse with Purpose is a program introduced to teach girls and their families about the goals of Girl Scouting and is a special way for them to help other girls participate in Girl Scouting who otherwise would not be able to. Participation goals are set for troops and service units and incentives and recognitions will be provided through patches, awards and the GS-TOP website. Every troop will be encouraged to participate in the program.

Grocer Cards

If you shop at Albertons’s, Tom thumb or Kroger you can help GS-TOP in the following ways:

  • If you shop at Tom Thumb, have your Reward Card coded with 691. You receive all of your Reward Card benefits, plus a portion of the proceeds from your purchase goes to GS-TOP.
  • If you shop at Albertson’s pick up a Community partners card.
  • At Kroger’s you can have your card linked with GS-TOP by Customer Service.


Fundraising Definitions and Guidelines

No troop, individual or service unit may solicit funds without prior approval from the Development Office. All such gifts over $250 will require a stewardship plan and report on file with the Development Office.

Sponsorship:  A financial donation from a business, corporation, individual or foundation to fund the event or program purpose. Any sponsorship above $100 to a troop or service unit must be receipted by the council. In exchange, the sponsor receives a benefit such as publicity or recognition, tickets or special seating or program responsibilities. Benefits are defined and agreed upon in advance of the contribution. Any financial sponsorship of a troop, service unit or council activity must be receipted. IRS substantiation rules apply.

Outright Gifts of Cash: On occasion, outright gifts are given to the council, service unit or a troop. Any gift of $100 or more must be received and receipted by the council. The gift may be directed for a special purpose or may be undesignated (e.g., Camperships, Financial Assistance or GS-TOP College Scholarship Fund, Troop Travel or Awards projects, Series Pathway are examples of gifts designated for a special purpose). Donors are likely to be disappointed if the council does not provide the required acknowledgement. We must fulfill our obligations under law and to ensure good stewardship practices. Specific IRS rules apply for receipting such gifts.

Restricted Donations: All restricted donations, regardless of amount, must be directed to the council. This practice will allow the council to maintain records of all restricted gifts and ensure donor intent and to provide the proper acknowledgement for substantiation purposes. By and large, the council does not encourage restricted donations to specific troops but will discuss opportunities that support a specific need that may impact our mission.

Volunteer Matching Grants: Many employers provide matching grants for service or may match an outright donation to the council by an adult volunteer. The council must follow IRS rules and standards and where such matching funds from corporations are sought (by adult volunteers), we must be able to certify that volunteer hours have been provided and funds used for Girl Scout activities. If you have access to a program through your place of work, contact the council Development Department to make sure that we have developed a plan to meet these standards and your desire to give to the council.

Volunteer Out-of-Pocket Expense: Volunteers who are claiming a charitable deduction for their out-of-pocket-expenses will need to substantiate the amounts to the IRS and obtain from the council a written acknowledgement describing the items, as well as a statement that no goods or services were provided in return for the costs incurred. If you decide to claim these expenses as a charitable deduction forms are provided for you. Please contact the council if you have any questions.

In Kind (or non-cash donations): There are special requirements for certain gifts, including vehicles, clothing, and other property. In most cases, friends and family donate items for garage, yard or sales just to help the troop and do not intend to obtain a donation form – and that’s perfectly ok. However, a gift from a corporation or business that is not cash but a service or product may want a receipt. Work with the council Development Department for these situations should they become part of your plan.

Private Benefit: According to the IRS, generally, where certain individuals benefit from gifts made to Girl Scouting, the determination of whether such gifts are deductible is based on whether the council has full control of the donated funds and discretion as to their use, so as to ensure that they will be used to carry out the organization’s functions and purposes. This can be an uncomfortable situation for a donor and the council if not enforced properly. An IRS tax deduction may be disallowed where the gift appears to be primarily for the benefit of a single individual.

The council must ensure compliance with IRS regulations and thereby will not accept donations where a gift appears to be primarily for the benefit of a single individual. Please contact the council Development Department to be sure that every measure is taken to uphold the law and the intent of the donor.

Please check council policies to be sure that you know and understand your responsibilities to uphold the council’s legal obligations for donations. GSTOP upholds the ethical practices of fundraising and adheres to a strict code of conduct and the Donor Bill of Rights.

As you can see, accepting charitable contributions is complicated. Council staff is here to assist you in whatever way possible so be sure to check with the Regional Development Staff before accepting any contributions.