I have read and appreciate all of the feedback from our recent blog posts on property and camp program changes. The passion that our membership has around outdoor programs comes through loud and clear, and I want you to know that our entire staff all over the state feels the same sense of passion and dedication to outdoor program opportunities for Girl Scouts in Colorado. We are committed to continuing to provide these opportunities, it’s how the opportunities look and are structured that will change. You will soon hear more about the new offerings from our program team on our blog under Organizational Changes.
Girl Scouts of Colorado had to move forward with reductions to our operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year so that we could continue operations. These decisions were data-driven and made with statewide input from the Membership Connection Committee and our volunteer board of directors. It’s important to know that all of the camp program changes are for 2014 operations, and none of these are permanent changes like selling a property. Things such as how program is provided, season length and property usage can and will all evolve.
Today, I’d like to address the questions many of you have asked about the extent of our financial pressures, how we got here and what we’re doing about it.
- We, like most councils nationwide, face a declining membership. This led to a $1 million budgetary shortfall in our cookie sale this winter; not because girls sold fewer cookies, but because there were fewer girls selling. A million dollars is a lot to make up for.
- GCSO’s liability to the frozen, yet under-funded national GSUSA Pension Plan continues to increase, and will grow to more than $1 million by 2014. This is a huge expense that was placed on us by Girl Scouts of the USA and is out of our control.
- Since Girl Scouts of Colorado formed in 2007, the expenses of bringing together the existing Girl Scouts councils in the state (many which were already struggling financially), establishing statewide services and upgrading systems and technology has diminished our council reserves. These major expenses are done, but resources have suffered as a result in every single area of our state.
- When the fires closed our camps last summer, we refunded over 3,000 girls their registration fees and sent them home to safety, costing the council $650,000.
What is GSCO doing to solve its financial challenges?
- We have reduced our annual budget by 23 percent ($2.7 million) by decreasing our statewide operating costs and staffing by 42 positions.
- We anticipate reducing our budget by an additional 5 percent ($600,000) by October 2013.
- We’re working to diversify our revenue sources beyond cookies. We are reaching out to our supporters to help us take action to invest in Girl Scouts and empower the girls in our state. Our girls are worth this investment, and we hope you will join us in this campaign to keep Girl Scouts thriving and changing lives in our communities. Visit girlscoutsofcolorado.org/donate to make your investment.
- We’re actively working to come to a fair agreement with GSUSA to spread our pension liability over several years and exploring other options.
- We have assembled a volunteer and staff Outdoor Property Subcommittee to take a strategic look at all properties, and part of their work will be to conduct community forums for input on camp property decisions. This committee just held their first meeting and will be working on a timeline and adding a few more volunteers. If you are interested in being considered to help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- We are streamlining our operations and processes to provide a better experience for our volunteers, with customer service as the focus.
Stephanie Foote, CEO