Mary Nichols' Family Leadership Center
6100 N. Robinson Ave.
Oklahoma City, Okla. 73118
Anna Maria Chávez
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the USA
A couple of weeks ago, we were sent a letter by the Southwest Alabama United Way. The letter informed us that Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama was "defunded" for 2014 and 2015 in Mobile and Clarke counties, but that Washington County funded us again. This year, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama received more than $80,000 from the Southwest Alabama United Way for Mobile and Clarke counties. Not only did the organization "defund" Girl Scouts, they also "defunded" Boy Scouts and a number of other agencies.
We have requested a further explanation, since the executive director has not accepted telephone calls from our constituents asking why this decision was made. In response to my letter asking for further data, he noted that the board chair and I should attend a meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, with all the other unhappy agency directors.
The Southwest Alabama United Way has undergone a "planning process" to identify what are the building blocks in Mobile, Clarke and Washington counties. One can only conclude that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are not a "community building block." The new strategy is to fund "programs" not agencies. The information that has been given to us is that we didn't provide outcomes metrics and data in our application and that is why we were "defunded." I can assure you we did. The second volley was that the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, the program that defines Girl Scouting, isn't a "program."
As you can imagine, we are disappointed by these responses to a more than 50-year partnership with the Southwest Alabama United Way. One would like to think that "defunding" Girl Scouts would have merited a telephone conversation by the executive director of the United Way, but sadly, he has never even been to our office in the two years he has been on the job.
We are Girl Scouts, and we will continue to change the world. We are appreciated and funded by the Baldwin County, River Region, Wiregrass, Pike County and Lake Martin Area United Ways and several United Funds. We had something similar happen three years ago in Lee County. Those in the know suggested that the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts be "quiet" about it. Well, three years later, most people who live in Lee County don't know we aren't funded by the United Way there, and our girl numbers have declined because of a lack of public investment, so being "quiet" didn't really work well for us.
As someone who sees what more than 3,500 adult volunteers and over 9,000 girl members do to become contributing citizens of their communities, I believe that Girl Scouting is a critical "community building block."
If you live and work in Mobile, Clarke, or Lee counties, please remember Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts receive zero funding from those community organizations when it is time to donate to the United Wa,. Thank you to Baldwin County, River Region, Wiregrass, Lake Martin and Pike County United Way agencies for understanding that building future leaders is a vital "community building block" and an important investment in our future.
This is the time of year where we take a long hard look at what we do. We are always interested in improving our services to you and the girls we have the privilege of working with. The best way for us to make changes is to listen to your input about what we do well and what areas where we can provide better service.
We are at a crossroads. We recently have received notice of significant funding cuts for the 2013-2014 year. Part of the funding cuts are due to sequestration, and other cuts I will share more about next week, as we have more information, but it looks like we will be working faster, quicker, smarter next year just to be at the place we are today.
Change is welcome. We can all learn and grow for how to leverage more of what we have to offer to the community. We are partners with you, so we need your assistance in learning how we can be more fiscally efficient and efficient with all our resources.
This summer, we will be inviting you to an evening of light dinner and conversation, just adults. Please come and talk to us. Come with good ideas on how we can be better and illustrate to the community you are in that Girl Scouts change the world, one girl at a time. These events will be starting in June, so stay tuned for one near you.
And, at the end of a good year with the girls, thank you for all you do.
Incentives do work! It is the time of year where girls are receiving all their incentives from the cookie program. We have tried to get them to the service units as early as possible, so girls have them before the end of the year. There are bridging ceremonies, patches and badges earned, as we feel the race to the finish and the end of the school year. Overall it's been a good year. I've seen a lot of girls in action, speaking, participating in civic activities and having fun indoors and outdoors.
I am especially pleased today to announce that we will soon be sending funds directly to the following service units because of your hard work. Your service unit increased its membership by 10 percent before the end of the calendar year or you increased your cookie sales by 10 percent. Remarkably, three service units achieved both. The top bonus this year totaled $1,088.44.
Congratulations to the following service units for their hard work during the 2012-2013 year! I know these funds will be put to good use with the girls.
The service units are:
906 (membership and cookie bonus)
927 (membership and cookie bonus)
815 (membership and cookie bonus)
804 (cookie bonus)
810 (cookie bonus)
812 (cookie bonus)
814 (cookie bonus)
823 (cookie bonus)
Thanks for all you do to build girls of courage, character, and confidence that make the world a better place.
What would we do without you? Well, the answer to that is you are integral to all we do. You change the world through your gifts, time, and talents. You are how the Girl Scout program stays alive!
One of the bonuses of our work is to have daily interaction with individuals who possess a giving heart, talented hands, energy and enthusiasm. I have met troop leaders and parents with endless patience, unbelievable creativity, and a care and concern for girls that is simply amazing. When others sit back and watch, they see that you are the lifeblood that makes our world a better place. There are no spectators in our group of caring, giving, and generous volunteers!
All GSSA Leaders are invited to take advantage of a 20% discount off any one item in the shop (excluding uniform items)* until the end of April. Remember, GSSA Leaders who have completed their Leader License also get a free gift in April.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
*One discount per volunteer, ends April 30, and does not include uniforms, insignia/badges, and the GS Silver Dollar. If you are shopping online, enter your GSSA Troop # and request the 20% discount. Your total would be reduced accordingly.
Too many girls and not enough adults -- that is always our problem. It's tough to find adults who are brave enough to step up and say they will lead girls. Although parts of being a Girl Scout leader drive you crazy, the effort is certainly worth it. How many people have the adulation of that many girls? Each year we have hundreds of girls that we can't place in troops, so they don't have the opportunity to experience becoming a girl of courage, confidence, and character.
In the near future, our membership staff will be asking you two questions, because we are starting to plan for next year, even though we are only six months into the 2012-2013 membership year. We will ask if you returning as a troop leader next year? We do that so we know where we will have troops and where we need to focus. The second question is whether you are willing to have more girls in your troop? We have girls who want to be in troops, so, if you are able to accommodate more girls, please consider it.
Please assist us as we try to provide a rich learning opportunity for all the girls in our 30- county area by helping us identify others who might serve as good troop leaders. The best advertising for adults to step up are troop leaders who extol the virtues of what changing the world is really like through working with girls. If you have friends who you believe would make good leaders, let your field executive know.
Hopefully, this time of year you are having some fun with your girls because that is what it is all about, shaping future leaders by having fun with them today.
At the end of a fun program, we all are ready to go home. But there is one more important step. We need to know: What did the girls learn?
For us to receive funding we have to prove that our programs actually meet outcomes metrics that we outline. Each of our many United Ways and United Funds want to know that the funds they invest in girls actually produce the outcomes we indicate we are working toward. The more we can prove that Girl Scouts is the premiere leadership organization for girls, the more likely we are to receive United Way funds and donors' funds. In today's world, there is accountability for investment dollars, so if you wonder what our COO and I do, we spend lots of time riding the United Way circuit addressing how GSSA fulfills the outcomes we indicate on our requests for funding.
Our program staff members work from a set of objectives for each program GSSA offers. At the culmination of the program, or sometimes after the program, we ask you, the leader or parent, and the girls questions related to our outcomes. Did the program actually achieve the program metrics desired? Did the girls learn something? What did the girls learn? And most important, did the girls have fun?
When you are asked to complete a survey and discuss what the girls learned at the end of a program, please help us out. This often translates into securing more funds for girls to be Girl Scouts and tomorrow's leaders.
Thanks for your help in this important effort.
Fund raising is taking on different forms than it once did, and social media provides all sorts of new opportunities for us to raise funds for our girls in southern Alabama. Last week we rolled out a new opportunity to support GSSA through Socialvest, which is an online donation service. The process is fairly simple -- you sign up online and then when you are shopping at one of its participating companies, the Socialvest icon actually shows up at the top of your browser to tell you what percentage of your purchase will be given back to GSSA. This is a quick and easy way to raise more funds for girls and girl programs.
Girl Scouts, unlike the Boy Scouts, historically is not very effective raising funds. Part of it is our reticence to ask. Where more than 75 percent of our income comes from the cookie program, the Boy Scouts raise more than 75 percent of their income from fund raising. Clearly, they can learn about how to sell products from us, and we can learn how to raise money from them. One of the GSUSA fund development vice presidents notes that there is more money given to animals in this country than there is to girl leadership and development initiatives. Don't get me wrong, I love my pets, but that is a staggering statistic to me and something we need to change.
You are able to raise funds for your troop by participating with those organizations that partner with non-profits, some of them are Ruby Tuesday, Yolo, Five Guys, Cheeburger Cheeburger, CiCi's Pizza, ChuckECheese and other family friendly restaurants. Occasionally, council-wide fundraising events with restaurants and other local businesses are scheduled, but if your troop is interested in a money-earning activity, consider taking advantage of this opportunity too. Like other money-earning projects, simply submit a completed money-earning activity application at least two weeks in advance to fund development staff.
For larger companies and organizations there are some limitations for sponsorship requests. I used to work at a university and we found that when we coordinated our requests to companies more people benefitted. Currently BASF is working on constructing a storage building at Camp Scoutshire Woods so we can get the storage out of the recreation hall and provide more room for girl usage. We also have an agreement with Books-A-Million where a portion of all voucher sales on designated days will benefit GSSA. This agreement applies to all stores in central and south Alabama.
All sponsors must be approved by fund development staff prior to signing an agreement or making a request. Sometimes fund development staff needs to do research about whether GSSA has already made a request.
At the recent GSUSA CEO work session, we discussed that we need to ask more of our alumni, but many women don't recognize that they are alumni. If you were a Brownie or Daisy, you were a Girl Scout, too, and many women do not understand that. We are working to find more ways to highlight being a Girl Scout and how it improved your life. If you are having an event in your community and are involved with women who might have been Girl Scouts, let us know and we will send your troop the alumni information form so we can get them involved again
Thanks for all you do. For questions concerning fund raising contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are in the northern part of the council or email@example.com if you are in the southern part of the council.
Recently I was at a Girl Scout CEO meeting; I was talking to Anna Marie Chavez, the GSUSA CEO. Anna Marie is energetic, enthusiastic and filled with new ideas and initiatives, exactly what we want for an organization that is charged with moving at "girl speed."
We were talking about television. She has been trying to interest television networks in creating a program about Girl Scouts. This would dramatically increase our visibility, highlight the many fantastic activities Girl Scouts participate in, and showcase the community service Girl Scouts provide. I asked if she had seen the new National Geographic program, "Are You Tougher than a Boy Scout". I had seen the second program, where the Boy Scouts performed as empathetic, responsible young men, who were winning against the adults. As we discussed it, I told her I would do some quick research about our girls and what they enjoy.
The question of the week has to do with what your daughter likes to watch on television.
The question is: What are your daughter's top 3 television programs?
The second question is: What are YOUR top 3 television programs?
And finally, if Girl Scouts had a television program, what should it be called?
While I was at the meeting I thought of some program titles that I thought would be appealing. What are yours?
Pleas send your top 3 television programs to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will compile the information and let you know the results. Help us find out what appeals to your daughter, so we can move at "girl speed", too.