Last year, the Girl Scouts took cookie sales online, and the world rejoiced. Or bought a lot of cookies anyway. In its inaugural year, the online cookie sales brought in $10 million and sold 2.5 million boxes. That number may sound high, but it is worth noting that Girl Scouts sell about 194 million boxes of cookies per year so there is still ground to be gained.
But gaining that ground may prove to be somewhat easier now that Visa and Dell have officially joined the Girl Scout party. The two firms are jointly investing $3 million to upgrade and update the digital cookie platform, adding games, music and quizzes to keep things fun. They are also adding educational material on science, leadership and tech as part of a push to get more young women involved in STEM fields.
“It’s the perfect marriage between technology and a premier leadership program that teaches digital, social and money skills to girls,” Ellen Richey, Visa’s vice chairwoman of risk and public policy, said to The New York Times of the companies’ providing technology and training for the cookie program.
This is Visa’s initial collaboration with the Girl Scouts, and it will allow its Visa Checkout payments platform to be used to process cookie sales. It has also made an undisclosed financial contribution and is offering employee volunteer time. Dell has been working with the scouts since 2012 and was part of the team that built the cookie website’s app. It has committed $2.5 million in funds, including tablets for underprivileged scouts so they can maximize their cookie program involvement.
By 2018, Dell aims to have provided 4,000 girls from underprivileged communities with laptops and tablets, according to Trisa Thompson, the company’s vice president for corporate responsibility.
“Girl Scouts is creating the next set of entrepreneurs. We want to help equip the workforce of tomorrow,” she said. “If you catch girls young enough, you can spark the fire.”
The move has not been universally loved, as some scouts fans argue that the focus on entrepreneurship has grown to be too much a part of scouting, culminating in one little girl attempting to join the Boy Scouts because she wanted to camp and hike — not sell cookies (she was not allowed to join).
The Girl Scouts of America, however, stands by its focus.
“We are doubling down on technology,” Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive of the Girl Scouts, noted. “More digital features will encourage more girls to participate in online cookie sales, and we are introducing online tools to make it easier and faster to recruit scouts and adults, including simplifying the process to become a Girl Scout.”