Last night our Guides took their first batch of biscuits home to sell. We taste tested the new range (lots of positive feedback!) and finished our handmade posters for our stall this weekend. It’s all good fun but it’s important to remind ourselves and the Guides parents’ of the reasons why we sell Girl Guide biscuits. There are obviously financial benefits but there are other benefits too.
Individually, Guide units don’t make a gigantic profit from their biscuit sales. A portion of the profit goes back to the Guides State organisation and the unit or district then use the remaining funds in a way that will benefit its members the most.
Sometimes they use their profits to pay incoming bills (boring things like utility bills or hut maintenance) and other times it gets put towards a trip that all members are invited to. This helps to reduce the fees that are charged to each individual Guide (or rather, their parents), keeping costs as low as possible so that membership can remain affordable for all.
My favourite reason for selling biscuits! The Guides learn such a wide variety of skills from this one activity. They have to think realistically about how many packets they think they’ll be able to sell. They decide when and where they’re going to sell their biscuits and how they’re going to go about it (eg will they set up a table or approach potential buyers?). They get to design, make and proudly display their own marketing materials.
When they’re out selling their biscuits Guides are communicating with adults they don’t know. Smiling and making eye contact, learning to talk with many different people, learning to listen to their needs and making small talk with those who want to have a chat. Many skills are developed over time, but this part of biscuit selling alone can have a positive impact on their confidence – which can help them immediately.
On top of this they learn to set team goals, reach targets, calculate the costs of orders, handle money and count the change out for their customers. Guides also learn that not everyone wants to buy biscuits.
This can be a hard lesson to learn, but it’s essential. It teaches them that people are individuals, everyone is different and there are many reasons why someone may not want to buy the product you are selling. They learn to be resilient, to keep going and keep smiling, even when you don’t understand why your stall does not consistently have a queue of 15 people (as you think it should).
For over 50 years, Girl Guides in Australia have sold Girl Guide biscuits to raise money for their units and districts, with the enthusiastic support of their families. We even still use the recipe for the original biscuits! Traditions play an important role in many areas of our lives, providing us with a sense of belonging and reinforcing the values of our organisation.
Girl Guides Australia is an organisation that was founded more than 100 years ago, which means that we have plenty of traditions. These traditions remind us, as well as those around us, that we are part of a community, a family. By following traditions, we are showing respect to all those who came before us and thanking them for their experience and the lessons they learned.
There’s no denying that selling biscuits is great for publicity. Guides are out in the public, selling branded products. These annual sales are a fantastic way for people to see that we are still here, to interact with us, to find out what we’ve been involved in recently.
But they’re also an opportunity for us to showcase who we are and why our organisation is important. We can tell people our story and explain how we’ve been helping our members to grow individually. We have the chance to connect with people.
Would we still sell biscuits if there was no profit for the district?
Definitely! As I said, I think the most important part of selling biscuits are the skills our Guides develop. Our whole organisation is designed to help support the development of girls and women, so why would we deny them this opportunity?