Whether you prefer Thin Mints or Samoas, the pint-sized entrepreneurs peddling their sweet treats are making an awful lot of dough off of our national obsession with Girl Scout cookies. In fact, all told, the Girl Scout Cookie Program is an $800 million business. So where does all that money go?
First, let's establish three levels of Girl Scout organizational hierarchy: there are individual troops, regional councils and then the national organization—Girl Scouts of the USA.
The Girl Scouts official website explains that the troop gets 10 to 20 percent of the revenue—which goes towards programming, scholarships, or for local community service projects—while the regional council ends up with the bulk of the proceeds at 65 to 75 percent. More detailed breakdowns differ troop to troop, but a 2010 article, based on $3.50 box price, says that, additionally, 85 cents of each box goes to the baker to cover production costs, while 1 penny per box goes to the neighborhood "service unit."
None of the money made from actually selling cookies goes to the national organization. However, as it owns the rights to the Girl Scouts trademarked logo, the national organization is paid royalties by the baker as well as any other companies that make use of the cookies. Like ice cream makers.