What Girls Learn From Cookies!

Teaching Essential Skills for a Lifetime
A well known component of Girl Scouting is the Cookie Program, the largest girl-run business in the world. Once a year, Girl Scouts around the country venture into the entrepreneurial world to learn business and financial skills and earn money to fund their Girl Scouting goals. Through “learning by earning,” Girl Scouting aims to empower girls through the development of five essential skills: goal setting, money management, people skills, decision making, and business ethics.

The Girl Scout Research Institute set out to understand the extent to which Girl Scouts actually develop these five essential skills, as well as to examine the specific ways girls benefit from their participation in the Cookie Program. Survey responses from 1417 Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts representing various regions of the country provide compelling evidence that girls do benefit from the Cookie Program through development of these essential skills.


Key Findings
Overall, a majority of Girl Scout “Cookie Entrepreneurs” develop the 5 essential skills.
85% of girls developed Money Management skills, reporting that they had developed budgets, taken cookie orders, and handled customers’ money.

83% of girls developed Business Ethics, learning to fulfill promises to customers, keep true to the Girl Scout Promise and Law in their business dealings, and consider how best to contribute to their communities with their earnings.

80% of girls developed the Goal Setting skill, learning how to set sales goals relative to action plans and to create a set of objectives with their team to reach their goals.

77% of girls developed the Decision Making skill, learning how to work as a team to develop a basic business plan, deciding when and where to sell cookies, and reaching agreements on what to do with the money they earned.

75% of girls developed People Skills, learning to talk, listen, and work with different kinds of people while selling cookies.

Learning the 5 essential skills has a positive impact on girls’ lives.

  • Significantly, more than half of girls (55%) achieved all 5 skills.
  • Girls who developed the 5 skills were more likely to report that they learned new things while selling cookies that will help them in school and other areas of their life than girls who did not (93% vs. 63%, respectively).
  • Overall, girls reported that selling cookies was fun (96%). Learning by earning made it even more fun. Girls were more likely to report cookie selling was fun when they developed the 5 skills than when they did not (98% vs. 90%, respectively).
  • Even though the vast majority of Girl Scouts were eager to sell cookies next year (95%), those who had achieved the 5 skills were even more eager than those who did not (95% vs. 90%, respectively).
  • Specific Girl Scout experiences can make the difference between achieving and not achieving the 5 essential skills.
  • Girls who attended troop or group meetings about selling cookies, practiced how to sell Girl Scout cookies with their friends and family, and worked toward the Cookie Business and Financial Literacy badges developed more goal setting, decision making, money management, people, and business ethics skills than girls who had fewer or none of those experiences.


About gsci

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
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