Listen, the Girl Scouts of America are totally down with this whole Internet thing, as well as social media. Which is good, because the organization has stirred up a bit of a social media controversy over a recent clarification that scouts can’t use PayPal to accept payment for their wares, even if it’s for a good cause. That’s a big setback for an 11-year-old who recently started a web site to support the “I Care” program, which she used to accept donations in order to send cookies to soldiers.
SteamFeed initially highlighted her efforts on the web, speaking to the girl about her idea to give something back. At first GSA seemed totally onboard with her plan, tweeting in part: “We watched your video. This is what Girl Scouts is all about! You’re doing something great and we couldn’t be prouder!”
But then hold up, wait a minute — she’s using PayPal to take donations? That’s apparently a no-no.
In a series of Tweets, the Girl Scouts organization addressed the girl and its anti-PayPal reasoning, writing (we’ve consolidated tweets and redacted the girl’s handle):
We’re so proud of your dedication, and we apologize for creating confusion by retweeting your initiative for soldiers. Girls absolutely can “market” cookies online: talk abt prices & sale dates, list inventory, take orders, etc. But girls cannot transact the sale (take payment) online. That must happen in person to build oh-so-important people skills. We think you’re awesome & know you’ll find a way to keep doing social good and still stay within our nationwide guidelines.
However, it isn’t that she wasn’t going door-to-door — SteamFeed says she was still making her rounds and ringing doorbells, but that the online initiative was just an extra effort to send a sweet treat to the troops. It was reportedly her troop’s leader who tattled to the Girl Scouts Council, in a move straight out of Troop Beverly Hills.
We understand where the Girl Scouts are coming from, in that it wants to prevent girls from setting up online cookie-selling points and sitting back while the orders come rolling in electronically. In many troops, there are rewards for being the top-selling girl, and using the Internet to collect payments could create an unfair advantage.
But perhaps they could make a special case for this girl with a bright idea to do something good, maybe by excluding donated cookie sales from her overall tally if it’s a question of earning a reward.
Furthermore, if the Girl Scouts ban electronic payments on the basis that it’s not promoting in-person interactions and people skills, might as well start cracking down on parents who bring cookie order forms to work and rake in sales from hungry coworkers. Wait, scratch that. We need those.