“We’re in the midst of an integrated core business strategy that started with defining Girl Scouting as a leadership experience,” Cloninger says. “And the question is what do we have to do as a total movement across the country to really get ourselves ready to embrace this leadership philosophy?”
Cloninger says GSUSA’s 11-person fund-development team is working with local councils on fundraising projects, and has responsibility for corporate and foundation giving, major gifts, and planned giving. And the team now has begun reaching out to the roughly 50 million women who used to be Girl Scouts. She jokes that every time she gets on an airplane she meets former Girl Scouts who tell her stories about how wonderful their years in Girl Scouts were.
“We’re launching a national alumnae strategy program leading up to our 100th anniversary in 2012,” she says. “Between now and then we’d like to capture as many of our 50 million alumnae as we can. And, of course, you know what a great potential donor base they would be.” (Editor’s note: They’re still considered Girl Scouts.)
GSUSA has contracted with major consulting firms to help people understand that Girl Scouting is vital and relevant because it turns girls into potential community leaders. The organization bolsters this argument by using data from the Girl Scout Research Institute, which promotes studies that help document the need for Girl Scouts programming in local communities.
“We see a great opportunity to leverage funding for girls if the national organization partners with local Girl Scouts councils to create a bigger vision of what we can do,” Cloninger says. “So part of our strategy is to do some targeted, pilot fundraising approaches with strong CEOs in local councils.”
Fundraising consulting groups have helped GSUSA select for a pilot program, 10 strong Girl Scouts councils that are “doing a pretty good job with fundraising, but can take it to the next level,” Cloninger explains.