Girls Scouts growing, gearing for centennial

Rusine Mitchell Sinclair
Rusine Mitchell Sinclair

Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In 2007, when it was formed through the merger of Girl Scout councils based in Raleigh and Goldsboro, Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines spent 84 cents of every dollar in its budget on programming.

Now, with an annual budget of $7.4 million, the council spends 89.5 cents of every budgeted dollar on programming.

Since the merger, annual fundraising other than income from its annual cookie sale or from capital campaigns or extraordinary gifts has grown 52 percent.

Those funds help provide financial aid for 52 percent of the nearly 33,000 girls ages five to 17 who are council members, up 5 percent from two years ago.

“That’s very important in this economy because so many families have had to cut back what they can do for their children,” says Rusine Mitchell Sinclair, who joined the council as CEO two months before the merger.

“Girl Scouting is a very affordable, very good value for the expenditures,” says Mitchell, a former IBM corporate officer, vice president and senior state executive for North Carolina.

Since the merger, in addition to growing its girl membership, the council has grown its core of volunteer members 2.5 percent to over 9,900 adults.

And as Girl Scouts prepare to celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2012, the North Carolina Coastal Pines council is set to launch a new alumni feature on its website.

The site will feature interviews of high-profile women who have been Girl Scout leaders and will be linked to an alumni database Girl Scouts of the USA is developing.

The new site also will play a key role in a capital campaign the council will launch in March 2012 as part of a $1 billion campaign Girl Scouts of the USA will kick off to coincide with its 100th anniversary.

The council will use funds it raises locally in the capital campaign for its programs and operations in the 41 counties it serves in central and eastern North Carolina.

That will include continuing to provide programs for girls with financial and special needs, upgrading facilities on its campuses to be more attractive to girls, enriching existing programs and putting more resources for girls online.

The council also wants to “make sure we continue to have reserves if there is a natural disaster” or problems in the economy, Mitchell Sinclair says.

“It’s important for nonprofits to think about rainy days,” she says.

The council has been putting a lot of its programs and its training for adult volunteers online, and continues to offer an annual program that lets girls follow a “journey” on a different topic, such as the environment last year and self-esteem starting this fall.

Mitchell Sinclair says the council always is looking for girls as well as adults, women and men alike, who want to serve as volunteers.

“Adults are critical in delivering the Girl Scout leadership experience to girls as troop leaders or mentors or helping to deliver programs,” she says.

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