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Girl Scouts Of The United States Of America

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.

Mission: Girl scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The girl scout program is a nonformal, experiential, and cooperative education program that promotes girls' personal growth and leadership development. Partnering with caring adults, girls design fun and challenging activities that empower them and raise their voices within a local, national, and global sisterhood.

Programs: Service delivery to local councils: provide direct consulting and technical assistance to all girl scout councils to ensure that girl scout programs and services are delivered effectively and consistently nationwide, and to usa girl scouts overseas, to assure the delivery of services to girls and adults in accordance with the mission, policies, and goals of the organization.

program development and volunteer learning: research, develop and evaluate girl scout programs for girls, deliver adult learning opportunities and provide the nation's premiere leadership development experience for girls.

girl scout merchandise: provides girl scouts branded retail products, apparel and program materials to members participating in girl scout programs and promotes the girl scout brand and mission.

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I was a Girl Scout through my senior year in high school. I enjoyed summer camp, camping with my troop at National Center West and a number of other activities. I enrolled my twin daughters in the new Daisy troop and was asked to lead. I lead for eight years and have just resigned due to poor council leadership. During the last few years I have watched as great "membership specialists" were forced to move on and while the new specialists disappear after 9 months due to lack of recruitment. My husband just told me that the new national leadership encouraged buy outs of the older Scout employees incurring a deficit of more than $300 million. In addition to changing the program and selling the camps, my daughters are now dismayed by the lack of adherence to the original program. I just had to cancel one of their enrollments in camp due to the camp's poor planning and the other daughter did not want to go in the first place. This organization has seen better days and its national and local leadership needs to go. It is being run by a bunch of attorneys who don't care about the girls. They only care about the bottom line and lining their own pockets.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I was a Girl Scout in grades 1 - 9. I started volunteering when my daughter joined Girl Scouts, in 1999. When her troop dissolved in 2007 & she joined a different troop, I became Cookie Coordinator for my Service Unit. I started a new troop in 2009, and they are entering 5th grade.

Unfortunately, the national office does not appear to pay attention to its own research, but only to focus groups. The program was changed significantly when my daughter was a girl, and it has been completely changed since then. (10 years!) As a result, girls and leaders are unfamiliar with the program. I had to learn all new programming with my daughter, and I'm having to learn a 3rd program now.

Camps are being sold all over the country, which makes it difficult for troops to camp. Council stores are filled with high profit items, not camping or programming materials. Troops are encouraged to buy patches for every event. The cost of books and uniforms is becoming prohibitive. (Note: two girls in my troop are homeless, with their families couch surfing with friends and relatives.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Volunteering with our GS council was literally the most horrible experience I have ever had as a volunteer in ANY organization. The staff were outrageously stupid and outright malevolent. In my four years of involvement, I only once heard one paid staff member ask about whether or not their actions would be beneficial for the girls involved.
GS has very obviously become a pyramid scheme for selling cookies but at least now they are partnering with such ethical powerhouses like Nestle and Barbie to make their money (insert sarcasm here). Perhaps someday the girls will be able to sell cookies and earn more than 50 CENTS a box again!!
GS is now about numbers only - the new girls they think are always coming into GS from kindergarten. They could not care less about the older girls in GS and offer them either no programming or completely vapid programming like paper plate crafts for 6th graders. Our council actively discourages use of its camps because they want to sell them to profit the top employees.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

As a Lifetime Girl Scout, 12 years as a girl, more than 50 as an adult, while I am disappointed in the current direction taken by the National Staff, I still believe in the program. As long as caring adult volunteers assist girls in directing their own programming, it will be a strong leadership program. Even our youngest Daisies are able to choose, stretch their abilities, learn, and share. If you don't like where the program is going, become a leader/advisor to a group of great girls and wtch your own life change for the better. I learned leadership, speaking skills, coaching and training skills as a girl that have carried throughout my life. I discovered my skills and abilities in science and math at a time when girls were actively discouraged from these fields. I met people who became lifelong friends, not because we think alike, but because we shared experiences at camp, on the trail, or a training sessions together.
But, and this is a big one, the program is only as strong as the troop leader. Troop leaders who are not supported by their councils/national through good local training, through collaboration and meetings with other leaders and girls, through great local events, can not deliver great program to their girls on a consistent basis.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I'm currently volunteering as a troop committee member and as a membership coordinator. I joined Girls Scouts with my daughter when she was in kindergarten, now she is in the fourth grade. We have made a lot of beautiful memories together during scouting activities. I'm disappointed that, as a charity, they only receive three stars. i would like to see them receive four again. I would like to see the CEO's salary tied to the President's salary. The President of the United States receives a salary of $400,000, and I think that ought to be enough for just about anyone. I don't mind that troops only get to keep 15% of what they charge for a box of cookies. I would like to know what percentage goes to council, national and the baker. It is the troop that ultimately delivers the program to the girl, but everyone plays a role, and it wouldn't be the Girl Scouts without everyone.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I think that Girl Scouts is incredibly top-heavy in terms of administration. I quit buying GS Cookies. The scouts are advised that they may not do any other fundraising if they do not participate in cookie sales. So these little girls trudge door to door, selling cookies for approx. $4 per box (their council decides how much - MT seems to be about there), and the girls make 10-20% of that, so .40 to .80 per box. If I buy 3 boxes, it costs me $12, and if I don't donate the boxes back to the Troop, it's not tax deductible. AND, they've only made between $1.20 to $2.40 for their trouble. Since I'm about to give away $12 anyway (and I really don't need the extra calories), I just donate $12 to the troop. It's as if that little girl sold me 8-10 boxes, and their troop gets to keep every penny - because I donate to the troop, not the organization. And I get a tax deduction.

Review from CharityNavigator

1 Sheila C.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My troop gets $0.75/box of cookies sold. Could be better, could be worse. Our council has many, many, many programing opportunities that are very low cost. Our greatest costs are transportation and fees by groups outside of the organization. Changing to the new books was also a new but onetime cost to us. We received $350 as Financial Aid to support the costs of two of our troop members. While my local service unit isn't perfect (it's run by volunteers, like myself) it is supported by the council and my feeling is that you get out of GS what you put into it. I feel that both of my daughters and I have grown thanks to our involvement with the Girl Scouts and I appreciate it's inclusiveness and non-secular approach (although there are religious awards available to be earned).

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I would like to agree with islandicmay's review. I have heard that the troop only gets a few cents per box for the cookies. Yet, the CEO of this organization gets more than $549,000 plus other perks per year. That salary is completely out of touch with the spirit of volunteerism that the organization attempts to portray. I believe that if all the wonderful volunteers realized this, then there would be a rebellion!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 1

More funds need to be directed towards the troops and their activities. Fees, cookie money, and profits from required clothing/books mainly support the salaries and benefit packages of CEO and executives. I have worked for free as a cookie mom. Little girls have stood beside me in cold, dark and rainy conditions. Back then, I did not realize how little of the money actually helps the girls scout troop. I also worked (again for free of course) as a co-leader. I had my eyes opened to a unnecessarily highly bureaucratic structure. Now, I give directly to the troop leader to pay for gas, supplies, and fun events for the ACTUAL GIRLS THEMSELVES.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a former Girl Scout, the daughter of a Girl Scout, and the granddaughter of a Girl Scout. I am proud that both of my nieces are continuing the scouting tradition, and look forward to my own daughter joining in a few years. The Girl Scouts grow strong, confident women. I love the many areas of interest that girls can explore, the inclusiveness, and the diversity. Thank you, Girl Scouts, for helping build generations of inquisitive, compassionate, and community-minded women! Now bring on the cookies!

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been actively involved in almost every aspect of Girl Scouts from program, to training, to awards, to troop leader, to service team registrar, recruiter, and advisor for the past six years and I must say, I am not sure where Mrs. Fordham finds her information exactly, but I am distressed to think with all the postive information, and role model opportunities, and leadership training, and fun activities that Girl Scouting provides, that she could only pick out negatives from her own personal experiences. As a leader, scouting is very much what the leader and the girls make of it. If you are looking for something negative and counter to your personal beliefs and controversial then I suppose if you dig enough or listen to enough anti this or that organizations they will supply you with some "dirt" to besmirch any organization.

The truth however is much more empowering. Girl Scouts, in my experience, helps build character and confidence in little girls. I have watched my girls go from shy scared little Daisies into beautiful competent, brave and confident young girls in 4th and 5th grade who can run programs for younger girls, who will encourage each other and support each other and who are learning the importance of standing up for their beliefs, being compassionate and caring to each other and other people in the peer group, who are countering bullying and peer pressure and striving to grow into wonderful and smart young women.

As for the whole girls only learn job related badges. It is laughable to think people can have such polar opposite experiences, this year my girls made chocolate, and learned to cook a gluten free meal as one of my girls has a gluten problem, they went to the zoo to learn about animals, they went zipling to learn about physics, they went to a play to learn about theater, they did a sing along training for fellow leaders to learn about sound waves and they sang baby bumblebee complete with the puking part (they love gross stuff they are kids) and we rewrote a version of Let it Be to be Have to Pee about one girls struggle to find an outhouse in the dark woods at night when she really has to go. It's funny and rather true and the girls love it. We also sang patriotic songs, my girls know about 6 different ones as a matter of fact. Additionally, my daughter found this great song by Rilee O'neill called Together we can Change the World which has become our troop mantra. The badges are changing this year but they still have childcare, photography, family history, exploring cemeteries, sports, fitness, jewelry making, and so forth. There are business oriented badges, especially for older girls, but there are plenty to choose from -- mind you choice is the big big thing in GS.

I love this organization, they serve girls from every ethnic background and provide financial assistance to help girls be involved regardless of their family income. They make the girls the number one priority in all things, making sure they get a voice. They live up to their motto -- Building girls of courage confidence and character who make the world a better place. I just can't imagine how people could or would want to find fault in that.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a leader, cookie mom and service unit volunteer over the past 6 years. My older troop has learned a lot about managing money (more than most adults know), they can cook & sew, they have done many rewarding service projects and they have had frank discussions about the world around them. My younger troop is just beginning to make their way, but they are learning a lot an love doing patch/badge work (and they do more than is what is required to earn them as we push them.)

I have also been involved in helping my older daughter and her other Jewish Girl Scouts earn their Bat Or and Menorah Awards. My older daughter still loves Girl Scouting and has no intention of dropping just because she is older and it is not COOL to be a Girl Scout anymore.

The good thing about Girl Scouting is that they are inclusive and therefore my troops have a wide variety of girls in them - racially, religiously and economically - and they have learned to respect everyone that way. It is also providing my girls with a greater understanding of the world around them.

I understand that some people would like the girls to focus solely on moral issues and how to keep a home, but the reality is that the world around us id very different then the world they would like us to preach to the girls. Girl Scouts is preparing my duaghters for the real world and I am fully behind that.

I

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Unlike Mrs. Fordham, I believe Girl Scouts is a wonderful organization! Is it perfect? Of course not. There will never be a perfect group until we find some perfect people to be in it! The girls learn how to live in the world around them, and make both it and themselves better every day. GSUSA apparently agreed that the program materials need to change, which is why they are rolling out a completely new, simplified program for all age levels this fall. And one of the most important things we can teach girls, Mrs. Fordham, is to respect others, not expect them to be just like us. And to stick with something you commit to, not quit because it isn't perfect in your eyes. Don't like what's happening? Be a Girl Scout and change it!

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

How can anyone say anything bad about the Girl Scouts? It's unAmerican. They keep their nose clean.

As a Girl Scout leader, I was appalled to see that the handbook for girls as young as 12 said that "you might be put in a situation where you need an abortion. Try to find a trusted adult to talk to." So much for the values I had as a child. There are NONE in the system anymore.

All of the badges now are focused on drilling into the girls' heads that you are NOTHING without a career. So much for a husband and family, and motherhood is NOT a career. Homemaking, cooking, sewing, childcare -- are only in the frame of doing these things professionally. You must TALK to a professional in each of these areas to get the badge. You aren't really capable of raising your own children. You need to let a trained professional do it.

Beautiful songs like "He has the whole world in his hands?" Now the verses include "He has the sexy sexy Seniors in his hands." What a thing to aspire to! "I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee" has verses about smashing it, eating it, throwing up, and eating it again. Lovely. And these are the words the leaders laugh as they sing it all together.

Locally, I love the leaders. But Girl Scouts used to be about values and morals, and personal growth. Now it is all political correctness. It is pretty clear that the leadership of this organization is right now in the toilet and your girls, your volunteer efforts, and your cookie money are better spent somewhere else.

Review from CharityNavigator