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Question & Answer Session - 2017 Annual Meeting


Q1.      What is the status of the AED Motion from the 2016 Annual Meeting?

A.      The motion was made by Susan Woelfel from SU 106 (Bethalto) to have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at all GSSI Camps. Motion passed by majority. Council not only placed one, but two/three AEDs depending on the camp in addition to one at each of the Council offices. Camp Butterfly: Commissary and Waterfront, Camp Chan Ya Ta: Lodge and Bunkhouse, Camp Torqua: Pumpkin Patch, Lisetta and Tuckaway, Camp Wassatoga: Lodge, Glen Carbon Office: Conference Room, Mt. Vernon Office: Main Area. Ten AEDs were purchased and installed in total.

Q2.      Q&A Session

  • Is the Q & A Session part of the meeting minutes?
  • Question/Answers should have been offered during business meeting. Please inform every one of changes in the agenda.

A.         No. Anything that occurs after the adjournment of the meeting, including motions, is not included in the meeting minutes per Robert’s Rules of Order. Council recognizes there was some confusion. We are developing a better process for getting information out to the volunteers as well as clarify the guidelines for making a motion, etc. The decision to hold the Q&A session after the business meeting was made in hopes of allowing the meeting to run smoother. This wasn’t as effective as we had hoped. This topic is on our agenda to revisit as we plan for next year’s Annual Meeting. Also, Council will be meeting with our parliamentarian to ensure everything is compliant with Robert’s Rules of Order.

Q3.      Bylaws

  • If changing bylaws or amending, members should receive this information sooner than 2 weeks before the change. The Task Force got to meet and go over it while Delegate Chairs were only given very little time to get their Delegates together to discuss it. If there are changes because of the wrong sections shouldn’t that have been discussed or found out from Council before today?  Also it should have been clearer what we were voting on. Some confusion of if we were voting on the change in Conflict of Interest.
  • Feel the meeting part for the Bylaw changes was too fast.  Each part should have been read in its entirety and voted on.  These are important parts to our Council and the Delegates opportunity to vote.
  • The Bylaws presented should have never been handed to the membership w/all the errors.

A.      All information was sent out in compliance with GSSI’s bylaws. However, we hear that you needed more time to effectively review and discuss these changes. This was noted in our timeline for future annual meetings. Yes, any discrepancies in the documents provided should have been identified and corrected prior to the annual meeting. Council is adjusting the timeline for the annual meeting and assigning a person whose job is to ensure all documents are correct and align properly with other supporting information. We apologize for the inaccuracies.

Q4.      Robert’s Rules of Order were not followed during Annual Meeting. Who is responsible to ensure the rules are followed?

A.      At every Annual Meeting, GSSI has a parliamentarian in attendance which was the case this year. We would like more information on how you feel Robert’s Rules were not followed.

Q5.      Why wasn’t cookie results on the Annual Meeting agenda? Bring back cookie info at Annual Meeting. The Leaders and girls work hard to sell their cookies and we’d like to hear the info to relay to our girls.

A.      At the time of the Annual Meeting, we knew we had met our cookie goal. Council shared this with the SU Cookie Managers via email at the end of March. Unfortunately, due to a new collaboration with Schnucks, Council did not have final numbers to present. We hear that having this information presented at the Annual Meeting is important, so it will be incorporated again into the Annual Meeting next year. Below are the final cookie results.

  • Boxes sold: 1,038,140
  • Girls selling: 8,037
  • Boxes per girl average: 129
  • Boxes donated: 15,000+ donated to our military - Operation: Sweet Treats Program

GSSI had one of the most successful cookie reward programs this season.

  • 130 girls reached the 500 level for the overnight stay at the City Museum. Girls had to sell 500 boxes of cookies.
  • 2 girls reached the 2017 level for the Kansas City trip. Girls had to sell 2107+ boxes.
  • 19 girls earned the S’mores campout. Girls had to sell 100 boxes of the new S’mores cookie during the initial order (traditional portion of the sale).
  • 306 Troops earned the GSSI Tote Bag. If GSSI hit the cookie goal of 1,025,000 boxes sold, each troop that sold 100 more boxes than the previous 2016 cookie season got this incentive. New troops had to reach a 130 PGA plus 100 extra boxes.
  • 3,390 girls earned a patch through the Troop 100 contest. If the above was met, each selling girl in the troop would earn a patch.

 Q6.     Why can’t we move the cookie sale back to the fall?

A.      First, let us for provide some history to this change. In 2010, GSSI’s Board of Directors approved moving the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program from a fall sale to a spring sale. The fall sale fell at an extremely busy time for our volunteers…school starting, fall membership registration, new troops forming, school fundraisers, etc. The Board’s decision was made after an extensive review of Cookie Program data and how best to meet the needs of the girls and volunteers and the future financial stability of GSSI.

In 2011-2012, GSSI had a dual cookie sale (meaning we sold cookies both in the fall and in January) as a precursor to moving the cookie program from a fall to a spring (January) start date. This move aligned with GSUSA’s movement of the cookie program across the country. By offering the cookie program in the spring, GSSI, along with other councils, was able to take advantage of the National Branding and Marketing offered by GSUSA. This move also allowed us to be one of the first Councils to run the Digital Cookie online sales program in 2014-2015. At this point, there are only a few Councils, regardless of the baker (ABC and Little Brownie), that still run their cookie program in the fall. 

While there are differing opinions among volunteers about when to hold our cookie sale, cookie program data doesn’t lie. Since changing this program, our PGA (per girl average) has steadily increased despite an overall decline in girls selling.

  • 2008-2009: 98 PGA (boxes sold)
  • 2017: 129 PGA (boxes sold)

All proceeds from the cookie sale stay right here in southern Illinois and support GSSI’s mission of providing quality Girl Scout Experience for girls and adult volunteer leaders. Cookie proceeds support important programs and services so all girls can benefit from the Girl Scout Experience. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to local girls and troops. Girls themselves decide how to spend this money...field trips, community service projects, travel, etc.

At this point, GSSI remains committed to offering the Fall Product Program (nuts, candy, and magazines) and Spring Product Program (cookies).

Q7.      What can volunteers do to keep the camps we have?

A.  This is a great question. The first thing we all can do is work hard to keep our camps in the best shape possible. Remember one of the Girl Scouts’ traditions: Leave a place better than you found it. Thanks to everyone who has spent time working at our camps. We realize you have put in a lot of hours and your efforts are appreciated. We also want to encourage both girls and adults to utilize GSSI camps as much as possible. The Board feels that no new additions should be made at our camps until we first address the issue of maintenance, and they have approved a plan to address this issue. More information on our camps is available as an update under the “News” section on the GSSI website and on the delegate portal.  

Q8.      What percent of Girl Scouts are volunteers? How did you calculate the 400,000 hours?

A.      The percentage used: 96% of adult Girl Scouts are volunteers with only 4% being paid staff. However, the actual numbers GSUSA uses for IRS purposes result in a percentage closer to 99%. To calculate the hours, we used 100 annual hours per volunteer. We are told this is a low estimate.

Q9.      I think to achieve more transparency – Board meetings and especially voting tallies should be public! How can we know who to vote (Delegate or Board of Director) if we don’t know if we agree or disagree with the opinions and voting stances of those people.  Transparency starts here.

A.      Here is the provision from Robert's Rules of Order that applies:
A record of the board's proceedings should be kept by the secretary, just as in any other assembly; these minutes are accessible only to the members of the board unless the board grants permission to a member of the society to inspect them, or unless the society by a two-thirds vote (or the vote of a majority of the total membership, or a majority vote if previous notice is given) orders the board's minutes to be produced and read to the society's assembly.

Normally, the minutes of a board only state if a motion was adopted or not adopted and no notation is made of exactly how each board member votes. Even if members were informed how each member votes on a certain subject, they would not be privy to the reasons why each member voted the way they did. If members want a better way to determine who they want to vote for, there are better ways to do that, like candidate forums, rather than reading minutes.

Q10.    Of the 1.7 Million in program expenses – how much is used to pay salaries?

A.      $719,738. Typically, we look at total salaries and benefits as a percentage of all expenses. The benchmark for Councils is 65-70% (salaries and benefits versus total expenses). For program staff, we are at 55% which is well below the benchmark. For the entire GSSI staff, we are at 65.2% which puts us on the low end of the benchmark. GSUSA recognizes our Council for our efforts in this area.

Q11.    What are the expenses under communications?

A.      The total is for communication/marketing staff salaries and benefits along with other expenses directly associated with these staff or allocated costs such as occupancy. The other expenses associated with this area are placed in the specific area of emphasis such as program or membership.

Q12.    Our girls have provided 70% of the income but yet they continue to get things taken from them…Why?

A.      We would be glad to answer this question, but need more information. What specifically has been taken away from the girls? Please provide examples.

Q13.    Girls attending events are being charged larger & larger amounts to attend events. Why is $ earned through the girl cookie sales to Council ($2/box) not vastly lowering costs?  This should not be a source of extra income.

A.      The fees charged cover the direct costs of running program and do not include any staff time. Each year, the costs to run programs continue to increase and, as a result, GSSI has had to increase costs at times. Yet, GSSI has been successful at keeping program costs down. For example, the haunted camp fee is the same as it was in 2012/13 ($8). In many cases, we raise fees in response to a specific issue. This year, we had to increase the cost of the Zombie Run ($15 to $17) to cover the increased costs of the shirts.  Funding a quality Girl Scout Experience at a reasonable cost is our goal.

GSSI works hard to reduce costs and diversify income streams to change its reliance on product sales’ revenue. Diversifying income is a difficult task for all Girl Scout Councils. The Girl Scout movement values the cookie program as much as we rely on it for income.

While GSSI currently relies on the funds raised through the cookie program, we are committed to changing this reality. In fact, moving away from our dependency on cookie income is a major goal for the Council. However, this change will not happen overnight but the Council has experienced some minor improvements in this area. When comparing revenue streams (2010/11-2015/16), the percentage of product sales were down 6% while other revenues were up over 14% and expenses were down by 2.7%. We continue to look at everything we do at Council as it relates to the good of the Girl Scout program and our Council to keep it sustainable in the years to come.  

Q14.    Why is Angie Zahn still on the Board after getting voted off last year?

A.      Angie Zahn was not voted off the Board. While she did not get voted in as a member-at- large, she was voted on the Board as our secretary.

Q15.    We should recognize our graduating seniors – just because they don’t earn a Gold doesn’t make them less important.  How much time would it take to just read their names at Annual Meeting?

A.      Yes, we should recognize all graduating seniors. This is an oversight that will not occur again. We have made note of this in our plans for next year.

Q16.    Besides Facebook, what other platform can be used to share suggestions/ideas?

A.      Currently, we are looking at communication. We want to make it easier for volunteers to communicate with Council and ensure that we provide volunteers with information in a timely manner. The new GSSI website will allow us to more effectively share information with our volunteers in an up-to-date and timely manner.

Right now, we will continue to use the Delegate Portal and GSSI Service Units pages along with the GSSI Blog, Pinterest, GSSI eblasts, Twitter, etc. However, the problem with some of these options is that not all volunteers have access to each of these venues. Our goal is to have a social media platform where ALL volunteers can be members and share ideas amongst other volunteers throughout the Council.  At this point we don’t know what that would look like, but hope to make access available to all. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let the CEO know, sdurbin@gsofsi.org.

Q17.    When announcing new Board Members, announce the new “Girl” Members.

A.      Yes, that should have occurred. They are an important, valued part of our Board of Directors. Noted.

Q18.    I have attended many annual meetings.  I appreciate all the work that goes into them.  Very informative meetings.  This year, as a troop leader and guest, I did not receive an email with the Bylaws, etc. in it.  Council has my email address.  I am not sure what the plan was with that.  I am not complaining, just wondering.  If Council moves forward with more email communication, I just want to be included.

A.      Per the Bylaws, meeting packets are sent to delegates who are voting members and not all troop leaders and guests. We are hopeful that in the next year, all volunteers will have easier access to information and feel more plugged into the Council.

Q19.    Awards

  • Why are awards not kept secret anymore?                             
  • Why was the Thanks 2 Award not given?
  • Awards were more exciting when they were a surprise to the recipient.

A.      Council recognizes that it is more exciting when the awards are a surprise. However, many awardees would not necessarily plan to attend the meeting if they didn’t know they were receiving an award. This way, they may also choose to bring family with them. All awards are open for nomination annually. After the deadline, the Adult Awards committee reviews all nominations and approves them based on the criteria set by GSUSA.  There were no Thanks Badge II nominations this year that fulfilled the GSUSA criteria.

Q20.    Explain donations that are made to Council but are designated for a specific troop or Service Unit.

A.      GSSI uses a “Pass Thru” process. To make a tax deductible donation, the funds must be made to a 501c3 organization. So, the donation would initially come to GSSI, then passed to the leader of the troop (01) once troop financials are verified as current. Council has been asked how troops should handle in-kind gifts. This is currently being reviewed and we will get back to troops once a decision has been made.

Q21.    Delegates

  • Scheduling of Delegate Meetings.  How meeting changes i.e. dates/time communicated?
  • Will there be a new Delegate orientation which explains the roles and expectations of a Delegate?

A.      New SU Delegates will be chosen in September with new delegate training held sometime in November. A schedule of meetings for the upcoming year will be provided later this summer by email and delegate portal. As part of CEI, the CEO will be the direct link to delegates as we move forward.

Q22.    CEI – Is eBiz being eliminated?

A.      Yes. The intention of GSUSA is that all Council will replace eBiz with Salesforce as an integral part of the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI). Additionally, GSSI is moving to Doubleknot to replace eBiz for program registration and Council Manager for property reservations. Salesforce and Doubleknot will be in place in August and July, respectively.

Q23.    CEI - When is the new staff structure coming and what will happen to our relationships with MDMs?

A.      Having been working on the implementation of the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI), Council is extremely excited about how this new system will drastically change girl experience and volunteer engagement in a positive way. While we wanted to let you know it is coming, GSSI will not go live with CEI until August. We will be rolling this information out in pieces. MDMs, as you know them, will be replaced by age-level troop support staff. While this new structure may initially concern you, it has been proven to be more effective and volunteers love it in Councils that have already transitioned to CEI. If you have any questions, please contact us at customercare@gsofsi.org.

Q24.    CEI - Will training for CEI be at each Service Unit?

A.      The SU teams will have a webinar series this summer on a variety of topics related to supporting their leaders through CEI. Dates and topics will be announced at a later date. If a Service Unit is interested in additional training for their SU, please send a request to our Customer Care Team at customercare@gsofsi.org.  

Q25.    Is the cost of 2 separate software programs more cost effective than having only eBiz?

A.      Yes. While there is a cost involved for both Salesforce and Doubleknot, the benefits are huge both in the ease and effectiveness of use for our volunteers and the reduced staff time needed to manage eBiz and Council Manager. GSUSA will no longer support eBiz.

Q26.    CEI - Are all Councils using CEI the same way and do volunteers have input?

A.  The CEI framework is consistent for all Councils but is customized to fit the individual needs of GSSI. Volunteers will continue to have opportunities to provide input. Example: When working on the web platform framework, a survey was posted and a webinar was held to discuss options. Additionally, we encourage input at any time not just during the development phase.

Q27.    CEI - Will all volunteers (i.e. product chair) have access to the new Volunteer Toolkit?

A.      Anyone who is a troop volunteer or parent of girl in a troop will have access. The Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) is a troop level resource so non-troop volunteers will not have access to this resource. As mentioned before, this is a fluid process. If this changes, we will contact volunteers. Training is a priority and all volunteers will be given resources and training.

Q28.    What can be done about paperwork overload?

A.   Fortunately, the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) will streamline the process that creates the paperwork overload. Direction on what forms are necessary as well as checklists and forms will be online and easily accessible.

Q29.    Are surveys going to only be available online or will there by paper ones?

A.      We encourage individuals to use the online survey option but feel free to call the Council if you prefer a paper version.

Q30.    Can events/programs that are not meeting the minimum registration be opened up to other age levels before Council cancels the event/program?

A.      This depends on the event or program since some are age specific for a reason. We’ve put this on the list to discuss further. We believe Salesforce and Doubleknot will make it easier to sign up for programs and in turn result in fewer program cancellations.

Q31.    Doubleknot     

  • What is Doubleknot and is it replacing eBiz?
  • Will Day Camp registrations be done on line with the new software?

A.  Doubleknot is an integrated property reservation system and will replace the program side of eBiz. Salesforce will replace the membership side of eBiz. At this point, we are unsure if day camp registrations can be handled through Doubleknot. First task is to get this software functional for Council.

Q32.    Can we have a special overnight for girls where all GS come together (i.e. rent a hotel or special venue) to celebrate girls more?  Other examples given were a banquet for graduating seniors and doing GS Competition like sewing.

A.  These are all great ideas and have already been put on the list for future consideration.

Q33.    More arrow guides are needed on all bows.

A.      As part of our maintenance and equipment plan, more arrow guides will be purchased.

Q34.    I have a troop that has girls of different faiths and backgrounds. One Jewish girl and a Muslim girl. It would be wonderful to have an Invocation that was welcoming for people of all faiths, not just of the Christian faith.  Thank you “Culture of Inclusion.”

A.      GSSI is always looking for ways to be more inclusive. This would be a wonderful opportunity. Council will contact you to see how this can be brought to fruition.

Q35.    Council Store Hours – Fridays or Evenings?

A.      At this time, Council is looking at how we offer our shop to the volunteers. This includes hours, locations and alternate ways for shopping and delivery. More to come…………

Q36.    Please make the Annual Meeting at a central location for everyone.

A.      Having the meeting in Mt. Vernon this year was due to its central location. Where would you consider a central location?

Q37.    Annual Meeting Agenda

  • Since there wasn’t any controversy this year, I think you should have been able to stay closer on time. Be realistic in the agenda timeline.  We rarely run on time.
  • Have a realistic schedule.  The schedule allowed for 1-1/2 hours – it actually took 2-1/4 hours.

A.      These are fair comments. Having a new CEO, it was important to share the new direction and passion for the Council. We will adjust next year’s meeting schedule to stay on time.

Q38.    Shop

  • Bigger shop area – too much congestion in there.
  • Suggestion for next year….  Open the shop earlier or start the meeting a little later OR open the shop the night before for those spending the night… Bigger shop area
  • More than just a dozen of each patch in the store - some troops are larger.

A.      We appreciate your comments about the shop and will take them all under consideration.

Q39.    Please order more t-shirts or pre-order t-shirts so EVERYONE will be able to get them.

A.   We didn’t anticipate such a huge demand for the shirts and wish we had ordered a larger quantity upfront. Shirts are currently available in the Council shop.

Q40.    Food

  • Breakfast with the early start time would be nice since business meeting ran over time.
  • Bring back breakfast & lunch.
  • I would also prefer to schedule a light lunch rather than “brunch”.

A.      We appreciate the feedback and will consider your recommendations when we plan next year’s Annual Meeting.  

Q41.    I’m freezing.  Can we be warm next year?

A.      Sorry about that. We will discuss this with next year’s vendor.

Q42.    More candy please and pencil and blank paper please. Troop 145 us kids. PS We are serious.

A. Got it. We will make sure there is more candy and pencils and paper are provided.

Q43.    Why are there no representatives south of Hwy. 13 on the board?

A.   GSSI has always worked hard to secure board members that are reflective of our Council’s composition, geography and racial and gender diversity in addition to seeking individuals who possess certain skills that are of value to the Council. Anyone who has been responsible for board development understands that this can be a challenging task. Please know that finding representatives south of Hwy. 13 is one of our priorities. The Board Development Committee, along with the CEO, can use your help in identifying individuals.

Q44. If we just approved mentors for the ex-officio girl members, how has (unnamed girl member) been acting as a mentor this year? Is this a case of ‘easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”? I also discussed this with a board member who sat on the by-laws committee and she informed me that we’ve always had mentors. Is this the case? If not, why did a member of the by-laws committee not understand the proposed changes?

A.      As Girl Scouts, we are always looking for quality leadership opportunities for our girls especially ones that allow our older girls to mentor our younger ones. That’s what occurred in this situation. We had a girl who immersed herself into being a board member and then came to us and asked to be a mentor when one of the newly-elected girls shared she could use some help acclimating to the board. Remember that all these positions are ex-officio which means they have a voice but not a vote. The board feels that the ex-officio girl members provide insight as to the mission and operation of the council and can serve as ambassadors for the council. This contribution exponentially increases when girl ex-officio members have a mentor. The board member you mention probably didn’t see it as a significant change since this arrangement happened organically and was initiated by the girls. The board voted and approved this girl as a mentor at the time rather than not act upon the opportunity. This was not an “easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission” situation. Rather, it was a great leadership opportunity for our experienced girls and a valued resource to our new girl board members which totally aligns with our mission; therefore the by-laws committee recommended the addition.

Q45. Where have all the bus trips gone? We used to have several a year put on by council. It seemed for a while the person in charge of them changed almost yearly. Our service unit puts on 1-2 a year by volunteers. I would think that council having paid employees could do several a year.

A.   For the past four years, GSSI has offered bus trips. Each year, one Brownie bus trip has been organized and in some years there have been two. Locations for Brownie experiences have included Southern Illinois Explorer patch locations, Purina Farms, Shaw Nature Preserve, and Arcola.  There was one trip for Juniors through Ambassadors and one for Cadettes through Ambassadors. Locations for Junior experiences have included Branson, Chicago, Holiday World/Indianapolis, and Space Camp. Locations for Cadette and up experiences have included Nashville, TN, KY Horse related attractions, ACE Adventure Resort, and Savannah. GSSI Girl Scouts are on the go!

Q46.    With the big increase in registration, we will lose many in our service unit.

A.         Council is concerned as well that the increase in membership dues may affect our girls and adult members especially with the current fiscal climate in Illinois. Last year, council provided over $100,000 in financial assistance and realizes the need may be greater this upcoming year due to the increase in membership. GSSI is committed to ensuring our girls and adults can continue to participate regardless of the financial challenges. Council will continue to work at keeping program costs down and provide financial assistance where needed. Please note that 100% of membership fees go directly to GSUSA. Nothing is retained at the local council.

Council wants to thank all of you that asked questions. If you need additional information, clarification or don’t feel your questions were answered, please email Sarah Durbin, CEO, directly at sdurbin@gsofsi.org. Thank You!