Girl Scouts Boost Outreach Efforts to Thwart Declining Membership

With membership numbers falling two years in a row, Girl Scouts of the USA is hoping new online platforms and tools will help attract more scouts and volunteers.

The number of Girl Scouts is dropping.

For the second straight year, youth and adult membership in Girl Scouts of the USA fell, according to the Associated Press. Over the last year, membership decreased by 6 percent, contributing to a 27 percent membership decline from 2003, when membership peaked at 3.8 million.

GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez attributed the decline to socioeconomic factors. “Parents and families are less financially stable, frequently working two jobs or more, leaving little time to volunteer or take their children to extracurricular activities,” Chavez told the AP.

That comment echoes statements Chavez made last year when addressing how the youth organization planned to combat the membership decline.

“This is the time to double down for the Girl Scouts and help us grow,” she said. “Our volunteers need help, they need reinforcements. We need to recruit and train [volunteers] in a way that works for them.”

Last year, GSUSA launched a grassroots campaign that relied on neighborhood initiatives and social media to promote membership. There was even a promotional video from First Lady Michelle Obama, who serves as honorary national president of the 102-year-old organization.

“In order to bring the fun to more girls, Girl Scouts need you to volunteer,” Obama said in the video. “You can show girls that anything is possible. You can inspire them to dream bigger and go further than they ever imagined.”

But with continued decline in members, the group is hoping that new outreach and recruitment efforts will help reverse the trend. There is a new national recruitment campaign on Facebook, for example, and new online platforms and toolkits to make joining and volunteering easier, the AP reported.

One of the new platforms is aimed specifically at curbing the declining numbers of volunteers by helping troop leaders plan a year’s worth of activities and meetings in one online visit.

“The need for what Girl Scouts has to offer is not decreasing. More than ever, girls need our time and our commitment,” Chavez said. “Our challenge is to meet them where they are with enough caring adults to serve them.”

(photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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