As the first and largest girl-led organization in the world, Girl Scouts has spent over a century preparing girls for every day leadership by providing rich experiences for them to explore new interests, face challenges, form new friendships, and make lasting community contributions.
Now in our second century, it is important that we keep pace with an ever-changing world and ensure we have the resources to support our mission. Girl Scouts of the USA’s National Board has decided to increase its annual membership fee from $15 to $25 starting on October 1, 2017 for both girl and adult members. The increase is effective for the 2017-2018 membership year (Fiscal Year 2018), which includes 2017 Early Bird registration this spring. Every dollar of membership dues is sent to Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to cover the costs of fundamental services supporting the Girl Scout Movement. This includes, but is not limited to, accident insurance for members participating in approved Girl Scout activities, program development, research, resources, training, technology, services to councils, and protection of the Girl Scout brand.
As announced to our membership last week, this summer GSUSA and USAGSO will deliver exciting, new technology specifically built for our international members in order to improve the Girl Scout experience for our overseas girls, volunteers, and parents.
The membership due increase will support:
- Online registration—no need to scan and send in paper registration
- Great resources- a digital Volunteer Toolkit means not only will volunteers no longer have to purchase leader guides, it also means more time spent with girls and less time on administrative tasks
- Better systems—volunteers will now able to complete the recruitment process in a matter of days instead of weeks or months
Last year, USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO) introduced a Council Service Fee. Membership dues are sent by USAGSO to GSUSA; no portion of the dues stays with USAGSO. In addition to giving USAGSO the ability to provide more opportunities and support for our communities, the Council Service Fee also assisted in the development of international modifications to existing GSUSA technology. More specifically, USAGSO worked with GSUSA to ensure all of the new systems and technologies will function for all of our members, no matter where you live. The new modifications required time and resources to ensure our members will have access to the same technologies as members located in the United States.
Much like the national membership dues assist in the operations of GSUSA, the Council Service Fee assists the operations of USAGSO as we provide support to our incredible volunteers who bring the Girl Scout experience to more than 10,000 girls in over 90 countries. Economic realities face us all and USAGSO needs sustainable income to ensure better quality of service to our members. To support the successful launch of the new technology and provide additional resources for all of our members, USAGSO’s Council of Advisors approved a $5 increase to the Council Service Fee, raising it from $15 to $20 for fiscal year 2018, beginning with Early Bird registration in spring of 2017.
The Council Service Fee increase will support the following:
- Organizational restructuring—because of the new digital technologies, we will be able to provide much more consistent and efficient customer service to our communities and Troop Leaders. Starting this year, we will have a customer service office tasked with providing answers to most of your questions within 24 hours.
- Better resources—For example, USAGSO is working on the development of new camp software which will not only help guardians communicate with their girls and share in their camp experience, but will also potentially give our communities the ability to utilize it for their own camp registration needs.
- More volunteer training—USAGSO has launched a number of webinars to provide training and support to our volunteers no matter where you are located. For example, we recently had a series of webinars on the High Award process. We have developed several more webinars, and will offer those trainings throughout the year.
- Expansion of outdoor opportunities—we are supporting the development of a camp toolkit to better assist the camping experience in our communities, and will also provide more outdoor experiences for younger girls.
- Outdoor challenge—USAGSO wants our girls to get outside and explore their natural surroundings. To that end, we launched USAGSO’s first ever outdoor challenge, which had great participation. We will continue to support and grow more outdoor experiences and challenges for the future.
- And, so much more!
With the new membership dues, the annual cost of a girl membership for USAGSO will now be $45/year. The Council Service Fee does not apply to adults; adult membership will be $25/year.
Fee increases are never popular but we must remember that there are both tangible and intangible benefits to Girl Scouting. All of us can agree that Girl Scouting enriches the lives of girls in many ways. A Girl Scout membership is one of the most valuable investments anyone can make in a girl’s life. The increase brings the cost of joining Girl Scouts into line with the value of its programming and the unique leadership opportunities for girls not available through any other organization. A girl membership with USAGSO costs less than $4 a month, but will provide a lifetime of memories and leadership opportunities for girls around the world.
Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to do something amazing, have tons of fun, make new friends, and go on fantastic new adventures. As such, no girl will be denied access to Girl Scouts because of an inability to pay the cost of membership. Overseas Committees, Guam Troop Leaders, and USAGSO will continue to make financial assistance available to families that qualify.
As we approach the 2017/2018 membership year, we look forward to sharing more about the value and benefits that Girl Scouting brings to the lives of girls in every community. Click on the links to receive more detailed information on the Membership Dues and Council Service Fee increase.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
USA Girl Scouts Overseas