From Bites to Bytes: The Benefits of Digital Girl Scout Cookie Sales

milk and cookies public domainOne of the wags on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! declared that as Girl Scout cookies begin to be sold online it will mean a lot less work…for parents who have to go around to coworkers begging that they buy boxes of their daughters’ cookies. However, I suspect moms and dads will still be visiting the desks of coworkers and leaving order forms strewn across lunch room tables.

Moving the sales of some Girl Scout Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs to cyberspace should work out well. After all, as both Internet surfers and baked goods consumers, most of us have “cookies enabled.”

Better marketing reach

But on a more serious note, the modernization program offers other marketing and educational benefits. Traditionally it has been hard to twist the arms of relatives who live out of town and now there’s an app for that. Individual Girls Scouts create their own cookie-selling pages that can be accessed via the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app – available in both iOS and Android versions.

And this leads to what I love most of all: how the program is introducing young girls to business, finance and technology through a very practical, real-world experience. For generations girls have learned a lot about business and finance by participating in the cookie sales program and I’m overjoyed that the Girl Scout leadership has now found a way to bring technology into the mix.

STEM studies improved

We have been reading a lot about the importance of improving the way we teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to our youth. Historically, these areas have been dominated by men; for a variety of reasons, participation by women has been far too low.

When I was raising venture capital for a technology-based company I founded, I discovered that less than 3 percent of all tech firms were headed up by women. That needs to change and I believe that this new addition to the Girl Scout cookie sales program is an excellent step in that direction.

It’s often a lack of comfort or familiarity that prevents people from pursuing careers in technology. Bringing in a technology element to the program will help get girls comfortable working in that environment. A person becomes a “power user” by merely engaging the technology on deeper and deeper levels.

Leadership upgraded

Further, in my experience, the local leadership in Girls Scouts is mostly comprised of volunteer women. Adding technology to this fundamental Girl Scout program will serve to make them more knowledgeable and comfortable with computers, mobile devices and software as well. They will then take those new skills back into their homes, where all their children will benefit.

Sometimes the daily economic and political news we read can be a bit discouraging. In contrast, following the stories about the Girls Scout cookie sales program going digital has been uplifting. Recently I also wrote about the good work Junior Achievement does encouraging entrepreneurship in our youth. With community-based groups like these continuing their good work, it makes me more confident about our future.

Support them in any way you can…even if it’s just downloading the app and ordering a few boxes of cookies from a Girl Scout in your neighborhood.

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