How Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Delivers Information to Girl Scouts across the USA
The mission of Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia (GSHG) is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of the USA was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. GSHG is a leadership development organization serving 122 counties in the state of Georgia, two in South Carolina, and one in Alabama.
After a national merger in May 2008, six Girl Scout councils merged into one to become Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia. The reorganization came with difficulties: figuring out how to best serve the new, expanded community took some time.
It took us a couple of years to figure out how to best align and best serve such a really diverse population – from urban areas to really rural areas and everything in between.
Based in Savannah, the birthplace of J.G. Low and the very heart of the Girl Scout movement, GSHG had to reach out to thousands of households to inform them about the variety of programs that the local girls and their families could attend. Some of the Girl Scouts lived in rural areas, and having a way to share that information with them quickly was crucial.
Not every household was getting the information, so the programs weren’t being attended by the families that had done so prior.
What GSHG did was create a large Program Guide that contained all the activities on offer, but they still needed to figure out how to distribute it to every household.
Plus, it wasn’t just the families within their council that GSHG needed to communicate with. Every year, Girl Scouts from across the country come to visit J.G. Low’s birthplace and want to see what events they can attend in the area. It’s important for them to find and access the Guide easily, too.
About 50-100 thousand girls outside of our council visit Savannah every year to see the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace and our Girl Scout First Headquarters. So a lot of out-of-town visitors utilize our Guide.
Search for Solution
The Program Guide was a document at least 80 pages long, so shipping it to every single household was not only difficult to arrange, but also costly. Each publication had to be designed and printed in color, with lots of pictures and text, and then mailed to 13,000 households.
GSHG couldn’t really email the publication either, simply because it was too heavy to fit in as an attachment. Embedding it on the website as a PDF also wasn’t a way-out: loading the guide would have taken forever, and rural areas had slow Internet connection.
Believe it or not, we discovered that some of the people from our rural areas were still on dial-up Internet. So downloading a 100-page document was not an option.
The first step toward making the guide available to everyone was getting funding. Tara Nobles, Director of Community Engagement at GSHG, came up with a smart solution. Why not insert some ads into the Program Guide? That would help GSHG break even and offer more choices for the girls. And afterward, the organization would find a more accessible and interactive format to present the Program Guide in.
I thought throwing in some ads could be worth it, since we had so many local businesses that catered to Girl Scouts. We could at least figure out how to break even. I thought it would really help increase our attendance of the programs. And it sure did!
GSHG started looking for an online tool to present their Program Guide and saw FlippingBook in use by another organization. Immediately, they felt it was the right software for their Guide, so they put it on the budget for the following year. With it, they could publish documents of any size and all in one convenient format.
We were just always fighting the document battle – using forms in Word, in PDF, creating writable forms in PDF, which wouldn’t download on the other person’s PC. And then we saw the FlippingBook software, and it looked really nice and professional.
The new publishing tool allowed them to link all the ads to the providers’ websites, make the Program Guide interactive, and provide information to any Girl Scout within the state and beyond. Even though the Program Guide was link-, design-, and content-heavy, it still loaded quickly in any browser.
FlippingBook did all the things in terms of linking to email addresses, to websites, to all of our program vendors, all of our advertisers. There are so many program partners, museums, and other places throughout our huge footprint that do special Girl Scout programing.
GSHG documents are accessed not only by Girl Scouts, but also by the volunteers that support the organization, mentor the girls, or provide other services. Scattered throughout the state, all of different age and background, they can now view FlippingBook publications easily.
Our volunteers are a very diverse group of individuals with different experiences, backgrounds, and of various ages. Anytime we can make it faster and easier for our volunteers to use something, we do try to do that.
Today, the Program Guide is available in print, sent as a link via email, and embedded on the GSHG website. Girl Scouts across the council and out-of-state visitors can always find relevant information online on any device. Sharing the publication on social media is a great way to reach out to the GSHG volunteers as well.
We’re pretty active on our social platforms, especially Facebook. We’ve got a really solid following there. We’ve built it up over the years, and it’s where all of our volunteers are.
As an added bonus, ads displayed in the Program Guide cover printing and shipping costs for the physical publication. The 2018 Program & Resource Guide alone included 41 ads. Tara sells advertising for about three months out of the year and then creates a neat, interactive publication for all the Girl Scouts, their parents, and volunteers to enjoy.