Dear Girl Scout Community,
September 30 marked the end of our council’s fiscal year and the six-month mark since our Annual Meeting—what an understatement to say so much has changed since then! Due to COVID-19, our council is a different operation. We restructured teams and reduced other expenses to accommodate decreased revenue projections, shifted to telework and virtual programming, and closed all council properties. Membership has declined in the face of families’ economic hardships and stress. Data from recent Pulse surveys of Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s (GSWW) membership show “virtual fatigue” with being online. Feedback from Service Unit Roundtable meetings and Town Halls calls for more live programming if we must continue to be online. In response to the racial justice movement, we’ve looked at each function of our work to identify additional actions we should be taking to work as an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization.
In looking forward to FY21-22, our challenge was targeting the council’s much more limited resources to best support attracting and retaining our core members and volunteers while we also address the needs of our members from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Here are the key assumptions we worked from in our budgeting process:
- No COVID-19 vaccine available, since there’s no clear direction publicly known at this time
- GSWW will be following Washington State Safe Start Phase Guidelines, GSUSA and American Camp Association directives for operations including in-person programming
- GSWW employees work remotely as their primary location; when phase guidelines permit, employees will come to council properties on an as-needed basis
- FY20 girl membership ended at approximately 21,500 (on a goal of 24,128); FY21 girl membership goal is 18,000: Early Renewal came in at 8,700 on a goal of 12,255
- Continued Membership and Program challenges from schools being online, limited in-person program delivery, limited camp programming
- Revenue challenges--including to Philanthropy and the Cookie Sale--given COVID-19 impacts
We turn now to our council’s next chapter, starting with our new fiscal year today, October 1. As we do, we’ll be holding up three values as what we aspire to—not always succeeding, but continuing to pursue:
- Cultivate Inclusion: We listen to, welcome and value different identities, perspectives, and experiences to enrich our lives and work environment, inform equitable decision making, and enhance our work with members, employees, and the communities we serve.
- Adapt: We are an agile, resilient, learning organization that embraces change and is responsive to the dynamic needs of our members, employees, and the communities we serve.
- Collaborate: We operate with transparency, leverage collective genius, partner internally and externally, and communicate transparently with unwavering candor, honesty, and respect to deliver life-changing outcomes for Girl Scouts, preparing them to do big things.
Our council’s vision is that We invest in our community through Girl Scouts. Our community represents every race, ethnicity, income level, sexual orientation, ability, and religion; reflects a spectrum of gender identity; and connects across geographic locations. By focusing our attention on community members who are furthest from racial, economic, and social justice, Girl Scouts can be an instrument of change, promoting equitable outcomes for all. We wholly commit to taking action to grow as an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization so that, through Girl Scouts, our members are affirmed as they strive to make our community and world better.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and successful year,
Megan Ferland, CEO
Girl Scouts of Western Washington