One of the biggest questions I had starting out as a troop leader was how much do I charge for troop dues. It's not a number that you can just pull out of the air and if you are new to troop leading you might have similar questions like me.
What are troop dues?
Troop dues are what your girl scouts pay in addition to the yearly membership to keep the troop alive. When you first start your troop you will need to open a bank account. Running a troop cost money and it should never be at the expense of the troop leader.
There are so many factors that come into play when considering troop dues. As a troop leader you will need to take into consideration all these things such as...What upfront costs will we need to cover for the troop? Does the troop dues include uniform cost or will they need to purchase that themselves? It's really up to you to decide what you want to cover with troop dues but generally troop dues are what finances the troop and gets you started.
The biggest question I have for you is are you planning on relying solely on fundraising techniques, such as fall product and cookie sales, to financially support your troop? If so, there will be a waiting period on when you can actually start purchasing stuff for the troop... this means the little supplies you will use at your regular meetings will have to wait until your girls start cashing in. You also have to consider where you are holding your meetings and if there is a rental fee? Even public school districts charge a rental fee so make sure you check.
If you are starting up a brand new troop, I would recommend collecting troop dues upfront in a lump sum. When I first started I knew that I wanted to make the troop dues fairly reasonable, not too much but at the same time I didn't want to stress about having enough money to pay for the cost of the meetings and badges.
What I covered under troop dues...
Building Rental-I knew we would need to pay for the building rental at the school, which was only $21 for up to 18 meetings but this needed to be paid by the first meeting.
Meeting Materials - You can choose to do a round up and have each girl donate certain materials such as pencils, folders, paper, crayons, paint, ect.... You can even make it fun and do a scavenger hunt if your heart desires. I wasn't too sure which materials we would actually end up using so I just went ahead and budgeted for this in the troop dues.
Earned Badges and Pins - I did include the earned badges and pins that we would work on together as a troop such as the Daisy flower petals pack, Journey badges, Membership pin.
Not included - I did not cover the cost of the uniform and I left it up to the parents to purchase this on their own. I wanted the girls to have the opportunity pick between a vest or tunic and I didn't want to be responsible for collecting the different sizes of each girl and having to return if they didn't fit. This also gives the parents an opportunity to request financial assistance for the uniform and Girl Guide through the council, which generally comes in the form of a store credit. This might help some families financially. You might decide differently so ensure all girls get the Girl Guide or the same uniform, that is totally up to you.
How to calculate the cost
How much and how often....
When I started hashing out the details of what it would cost to run the troop I first calculated how many meetings we would actually have. From there I set a small and realistic budget that I would allocate for each meeting. *Keep in mind that some meetings you will spend more and some you will spend way less but if you have an average in mind that will help you stay on track and not over spend. I estimated $12 dollars per meeting or $1 per girl per meeting. If you have a smaller troop you might consider charging more per girl per meeting. Let me tell you, the cost of crafting material adds up especially if your girls like crafts!
Also, it's good to note that once you start buying supplies, such as crayons, markers, pencils, etc, these items are reusable for future meetings as well. So, you might initially spend more to build a Girl Scouts materials supply but spend less later when you reuse materials. I purchased a rubbermaid bin to keep all of the Girl Scout materials separate from the rest of my supplies.
18 meetings x $12 = $216
Calculate the earned awards...
I purchased the Daisy petals pack, a membership pin, and one of the journey awards. I added these awards together and multiplied by how many girls I had in the troop...
For example, it would cost say... 12.50 per girl in badges and awards
$12.50 x 12 (girls) = $150...
Your troop total is up to $216 + $150 = $366
Then, add in the building rental of $21 the total would equal = $387
Divide the total spending budget for the troop by the number of girls you have and that would equal...
Total per girl = $387 / 12 girls = $32.35 per girl.
Now I don't particularly want to charge a girl $32 and some change, so I rounded up.
I would charge each girl between $33 and $35 in troop dues.
I would recommend collecting this up front as a whole or splitting it up into two payments.
Some people charge per month or per meeting.... I strongly discourage this method!! It was hard enough to collect one payment let alone several and in all honestly I personally would forget to pay them if I wasn't a troop leader myself. One or two payments is a lot easier for the parents to remember.
Once you have developed a decent troop bank account and through fundraising programs, you can re-evaluate the troop dues for the following year. For many troops after the first year they rely solely on the fundraising programs to continue the troop bank account and some will continue to require troop dues. It's really up to you to decide. For our second year, I still charged troop dues but I lowered the cost because the girls did such a fantastic job with fundraising. I really wanted the money the girls earned in the fall product and cookie sales to go towards troop outings, so instead I needed to cover the remaining cost with some troop dues.
As you can see, troop dues is nothing glamorous and honestly I would recommend having a volunteer who handles the finances for you. It will make your job a lot easier and a heck of a lot more enjoyable.