Girl Scouts Investing In Opportunities for Girls and Recruitment of Adults As Membership Dips

Declining Membership Trend in Line with Most Youth-Serving Organizations


Girl Scouts of the USA Press Room

NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2014 -- Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today announced ongoing major investments in new techniques to recruit and train adult volunteers and provide more opportunities for girls in the face of a net decline in membership over the 2014 Fiscal Year. The drop of 500,000 girl and adult members nationwide, from 3.2 million to approximately 2.7 million total members, represents a roughly six percent decline in the total number of girl members who are registered Girl Scouts, as well as in the number of adult volunteers who serve them and deliver the Girl Scout experience.

The membership drop mirrors similar declines throughout the nonprofit and youth-serving sectors, with organizations across the country experiencing the residual effects of the 2008 financial crisis, and its lingering impact on the time and resources both girls and parents have to give to Girl Scouts and other activities. The increased demand and competition from other organizations, school, and extracurricular activities for the attention of girls have also cut into the time girls commit to Girl Scouts. 

Much of Girl Scouts' membership decline over the past several years can be attributed to a lack of adult volunteers to lead troops and deliver programming. With 30,000 girls on waiting lists nationwide to join the Girl Scouts, it is clear girls' interest in joining the organization remains high. Declining time and interest on the part of potential adult volunteers to serve as troop leaders, cookie moms, and in other capacities has led to a net decline in overall girl and adult membership, as many girls no longer have a local troop to join. The recruitment and training of qualified adults is a top priority for the organization, as a single volunteer can take as many as five girls off of a wait list and into a troop setting.

"We are aware of the national trends in the youth-serving nonprofit space, and are investing heavily in innovative technological upgrades that will take the Girl Scout experience fully into the twenty-first century," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of theUSA. "As we head into our national convention this month, we are embracing new tactics, ideas, and strategies that will help us reach, recruit, and retain more girls and the adults who serve them. As we position Girl Scouts for its second century of service to girls, we are continuing to work to connect the organization to the fast-paced modern world, ensuring we deliver a unique leadership experience that is consistent with the needs of today's girls while teaching the values and ideals our Movement has always upheld."

More sophisticated social media campaigns and a first-ever online resource for volunteers, called the Volunteer Toolkit, are among the new tactics and strategies GSUSA has been investing in to assist in recruiting more adult volunteers. This fall GSUSA launched its first national Facebook ad campaign for the majority of Girl Scout councils. The campaign, which uses geo-targeted ads optimized for conversions, reached over nine million potential volunteers in the first month. The development of the Volunteer Toolkit is revolutionary for GSUSA, as it will ease the on-boarding process for new volunteers, and troop leaders will be able to plan an entire year of meetings and activities in one online visit. The mobile-friendly toolkit also provides easy access and constant support for on-the-go volunteers. The handful of councils currently piloting the toolkit have already seen a significant positive impact, greatly reducing the number of girls on waiting lists.

Though overall membership is down, the positive effect Girl Scouts has on girls continues to be indisputable. Studies from the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) show women who were Girl Scouts display positive life outcomes with regard to sense of self, community service, civic engagement, education, and income to a greater degree than women who were not Girl Scouts. And this is the case for all Girl Scout alumnae, across age/generations, social class, race, and engagement in other extracurricular activities. Results from a GSUSA summer 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range shows at least 90 percent of caregivers say their daughter is more confident, has more friends, and is happier because she's in Girl Scouts, while 88 percent of volunteers believe their lives are better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts.

Additional GSRI data showcases the need for female leadership organizations in this country. Their 2013 report The State of Girls: Unfinished Business found that while progress has been made for girls in some areas such as educational attainment, many girls are being left behind. Particularly, African American and Hispanic girls face significant challenges in making successful transitions to adulthood. More recently, GSRI's The State of Girls: Thriving or Surviving examines girls' well-being across each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ranking each state based on an index of girls' well-being. Data like this showcases the significant need for organizations like Girl Scouts to work together with local communities to mobilize resources that address the most pressing issues impacting girls, especially those in underrepresented and vulnerable populations. GSUSA's curriculum continues to be informed and shaped by research like this in order to best serve today's girls.

We're Girl Scouts of the USA
We're the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. It began over 100 years ago, in 1912, with one woman, Girl Scouts' founder Juliette Gordon "Daisy" Low, who believed in the power of every girl. Today, we continue her vision of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Juliette organized the first Girl Scout troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, and today, we continue her vision of helping girls discover their strengths, passions, and talents. And with programs for American girls from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to do something amazing. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit