Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Girls who want to make the world a better place join Girl Scouts of Alaska for new experiences and adventure.

Recognizing that girls who want to make the world a better place join Girl Scouts of Alaska for new experiences and adventure, Girl Scouts of Alaska engaged in a rigorous, intensive learning process, to identify priorities for how we will continue to meet the needs of Alaska’s girls in this rapidly evolving world.

Twenty five volunteers from across the state served on the Council Strategy Team and devoted hundreds of hours of their time from October, 2010 through February 2011 to consider the needs of girls, parents, donors, and volunteers. Thanks to The Rasmuson Foundation we were able to include a wide geographic diversity in our strategic learning process. We are deeply grateful to our Council Strategy Team volunteers for their courage, confidence, and character in making Girl Scouts of Alaska a better place.

Our Council Strategy Team evaluated the changing social, economic and demographic conditions of Alaska, interviewed stakeholders and analyzed the challenges and opportunities facing Alaska's girls and Girl Scouts of Alaska today. We learned about ourselves, our girls and stakeholders, and the world we work in. The Council Strategy Team then identified priorities for increased effectiveness and improvement which were approved by the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Alaska in March 2011. This strategy will guide our work for the next several years.

We learned that:

• Girls across Alaska want relevant programs, including opportunities for travel, outdoor activities, and service learning. They want multiple ways to participate in Girl Scouts and seek supportive, respectful relationships with adults and the opportunity to collaboratively plan with them. We need to give girls what they need in ways they want it.

• Alaska is becoming increasingly diverse. To be inclusive, relevant, and effective, our girls served and volunteers and staff should reflect the ethnic, geographic, social and economic diversity of the state. Girl Scouts of Alaska is serving a high percentage of rural Alaska Native girls, but is not attracting girls of other racial/ethnic backgrounds or non-white girls in urban areas. Girl Scouts is for all girls; it's been inclusive since the beginning in 1912. Now girls have more options than ever before in how to participate as a Girl Scout through Pathways (troop, series, events, camps, travel, virtual), which can assist in increasing diversity. You don't have to be a troop member to be a Girl Scout.

• Volunteers deliver 90% of the programming in Girl Scouts. Staff and the Council must continuously support them and acknowledge their contributions. Current volunteers seek additional training about youth development, as well as how to utilize technology used by girls. We hear you - and have offered more adult learning this year than ever before. GSAK Adult Learning now includes traveling community training, annual Adult Learning Summit, webinars, teleconferences, outdoor training, and adult learning opportunities at Encampment. Our next Adult Learning Summit: Leaders Behind the Leaders will be November 5 and 6, 2011 at UAA, Anchorage. Travel assistance will be available. Mark your calendars.

• GSAK must have multiple volunteer pathways in order to attract a robust and diverse community of skills and talents. Times have changed since Girl Scouts' volunteer delivery model was developed in the 1950's. Most households how have two working parents or are one-parent households. Time is precious, to working parents especially. And...Girl Scout volunteers don't have to be parents to serve. Volunteers don't have to become troop leaders to participate in Girl Scouts; there can be volunteer opportunities in all GS Pathways.

• The non-profit sector will become smaller in the near term with partnerships providing new opportunities for collaboration. Partnerships have always been vital to our "small" state; this trend will continue.

• Donors want to see program outcomes and require continuous communication and multiple pathways for giving. In 2011-2012, Girl Scouts of Alaska will be piloting a nationwide evaluation tool to measure the 15 outcomes of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

• The majority of the revenue of GSAK is generated by cookie sales. GSAK should expand support from individual giving. Outreach to alumnae is critical to sustainability.

• Stakeholders indicate that the Girl Scout Mission is the primary reason they are devoted to the organization. Girl Scouts needs to tell the stories of our girls and our alumnae.

We are committed to these five priorities: 

• Continuing to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We will do so by focusing on girl-led or girl-driven programming, and we will utilize GSUSA's 15 Girl Scout Leadership Experience outcomes to measure our effectiveness. We will give girls what they need in ways they want it.

• Exploring new ways of attracting diverse girls, volunteers and staff and offering flexible ways to participate. Increasing our organizational cultural competency and that of our adult leadership.

• Continuous learning, support, and strengthening of volunteers and staff.

• Diversifying revenue sources and partnering opportunities to strengthen our economic resiliency.

• Expanding our modes and frequency of communication and telling our story.

Girl Scouts of Alaska is committed to listening to our girl and adult membership on an ongoing basis. We conducted input gathering sessions at Encampment for both adults and girls. Girl sessions included designing a girl member suvey. That survey was conducted at Encampment and continues to be available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HX39X9J. Watch for the adult member survey later in June.