CEO: May 2013 Archives

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With the "defunding" of our council by the Southwest Alabama United Way (Mobile and Clarke counties), it has become increasingly clear why we need to do a better job illustrating how critical we are to the communities we work in.   Recently, I asked the Mobile-area service units to give me illustrations of the important work our girls do in that area.   The stories of girls learning to be responsible citizens, participating in community action, and giving back came pouring in.   It was a good reminder to me that we don't do enough to get the word out that "girl power" is amazing.

We are spending this summer working on how to improve our communications to you and our other constituents.   As we go about that work, we will be asking you for illustrations of the great things you do.   Although we might not be able to use all you give us on our first publications and in advertising, know that we will save them to use as we have opportunities.  We are always interested in great stories and photos of what you do.   You can send them to communications@girlscoutssa.org or mcochrane@girlscoutssa.org.

This fall we hope to have billboards around the council footprint advertising fall recruitment efforts and the fact that girls can change the world!   Thanks for serving as the catalyst for change by sharing your time with the girls.

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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. 

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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. 

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