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Research Paper on the Management of the Girl Scouts

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The following sample research paper on the Girl Scouts of America is Master level and includes thorough analysis of the problem at-hand (in regards to labor and management). The role of non-profits (like Habitat for Humanity) is examined from a business perspective. If you would like to work with a professional master-level editor, check out editing services from Ultius.

The role of non-profit organizations (like Girl Scouts of America)

Nonprofit organizations play an increasingly important role in a contemporary business and service environment. Situated between the private models of business organizations, and between the public-oriented and funded models associated with government entities, nonprofits provide unique services that all outside of the scope of the other two organization types. The growing importance of and popularity of nonprofits also accounts for their growing diversification. Analysts frequently illustrate how the term nonprofit often signifies a diverse range of operational models (Presoto, Fontana & Souza, 2010). This observation also reflects two key trends among varied nonprofit entities.

First, individual organizations tend to face the same essential challenges: i.e. appealing to a discrete consumer demographic, effectively managing their internal operations, and in performing their key services. Secondly, they tend to perform these functions in ways that reflect an organization`s specific features (Walk & Kennedy, 2016).

The issue of personnel management also surfaces as a key issue in this context, as nonprofits tend to take varying approaches to the key dilemmas that often emerge from their organizational frameworks. For example, nonprofits are legally recognized by their reliance upon volunteers or independent contractors to achieve their primary goals. At the same time, however, these same firms also tend to place an increasing burden on those who are both not legally recognized as employees but whom also tend to face similar pressures and responsibilities associated with employees working in private companies.

These issues, in brief, also tend to generate key stresses in the relationship between the speciated forms of labor and management associated with nonprofit organizations (click here to read about labor issues in California). One specific example includes the responsibilities impacting volunteers in the U.S. national organization, Girl Scouts of America. This paper will examine the key relationships between labor and management within this organization, while also exploring some of the key issues impacting the firm's volunteer and administrative personnel.

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Organizational Overview

As with other nonprofit organizations, the Girl Scouts of America represents a specialized frim that serves the needs of their community by providing services to girls between various age groups. The organization website Girl Scouts Nation`s Capital (2018) identified its mission statement as that of:

“[building] girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” (para 2).

Presently, the organization operates both domestically in the United States and in various areas of the globe. Its present membership totals are approximately 1.8 million girls aggregately, with an additional 800,000 adults serving in various volunteer capacities (Girl Scouts, 2018a). Myrie (2007) noted that the organization began in Savanah, Georgia in 1912 by its founder Juliet Gordon Low and that it slowly evolved in the years following its initial establishment. Beginning as a regional-based organization, it slowly became both national and global in terms of its scope and impact.

Stewart (2014) likewise contended that the organization`s founding can be viewed in a broader historical context; specifically, that it was impacted by the same historical trends that also led to the establishment of the Boy Scouts of America and similar organizations. The underlying philosophy associated with the organization is that young girls can learn essential, community-based values from other strong women.

As a nonprofit organization, the Girl Scouts can be defined according to the schema provided by Anheier (2006). The author`s description of nonprofit business models and types identified the varying areas of function, emphasis, and process that characterizes most of these organizations. Based on Anheier (2006) criteria, we can argue that the Girl Scouts features two prominent models. First, the firm tends to be advocacy-based in the sense that it serves to mentor and guide the girls involved in its program.

The organization`s varying functions, ranging from its executive and lobby-based efforts in Washington to its individual community-based operations, all can be viewed as a singular effort to promote the well-being of girls during their formative years of development (Nonprofit Explorer, 2016). At the same time, however, the firm also exhibits the characteristics associated with service-based nonprofits. As Anheier (2006) argued, service-based organizations:

“perform various important functions in the delivery of collective goods and services, particularly for minority preferences” (p. 174).

The Girl Scouts provide key community services by reaching out and mentoring to young females, but also by performing various acts of broader community-based philanthropy. The organization`s structure at the community contributes to this latter outcome in two main ways:

  • by making community outreach a key part of the Girl Scout`s organizational focus;
  • and by providing volunteer-based leadership that lead the group`s members through various charitable acts

In this way, the organization focuses on the issues of community development as well as the personal development of its individual members simultaneously (Girl Scouts Nation`s Capital, 2018).

Organizational structure and primary tasks of the Girl Scouts of America

As with other nonprofit entities of its type, the organizational and hierarchical structures associated with the Girl Scout's operational model helps facilitate its associative processes and functions (Walk & Kennedy, 2016). In this instance, descriptions of the Girl Scouts` primary structure can be subdivded into two main areas of focus: its broader, macro-level structures as well as those associated with its varied regional-based associatiosn acrosss the nation and the globe.

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In terms of the first issue, Myrie (2007) noted that the firm relies upon a federated structure. This model allows the organization to retain its area of centralized control—its main executive-level offices operating at the national level—while also allowing individual chapters to loosely operate within their own areas of operation and oversight. This means, in brief, that each chapter retains operational control even as it also affiliates itself with the larger organization by paying requisit membership dues and by abiding by broader firm policies. Within this broader model, however, the Girl Scouts also feature varying levels of service and operation. This includes operations at the local troupe level, including the services of volunteers directly associated with a local, civic or regional chapter; service units that provide support for multiple chapter within the same region; in addition to 25 specific associations that provide support to varying service units by focusing on individual areas of oepration (Girl Scouts Nation`s Capital, 2018). 

Within these frameworks, the organization also depends upon a unique model of leadership and governance. This includes the presence of a CEO and Board of Directors operating at the central executive level. The Board members, in turn, oversee operations in various states (Girl Scouts, 2018b). The primary tasks carried out by the organization can also be linked to these broader structures. Specifically, executive officers provide the function of managing the operation, making key decisions, and supporting organizational lobbying efforts within Washington: i.e. efforts used to increase and maintain federal giving to partially fund its operations.

The executive board members, in turn, oversee the management of key regions. The staff serving service units and associations, in turn, attempt to fulfill executive level orders, while also ensuring that associative volunteers do so within the scope of their local chapters. This federated system of control, in brief, features a mixture of dependency upon both salaried and volunteer partners, as well as many of the same dilemmas impacting nonprofits as they engage in personnel management processes (Von Eckardstein & Brandl, 2004). 

Isssues of labor and management (within the Girl Scouts)

The primary issues impacting issues of labor and managment in the Girl Scouts organization relate to the tensions generated by its federated system of control. Simply stated, the firm`s exexutive levels of leadership seeks to fulfill the organization`s mission, partially, by placing key requirments on the various service units and associations affiliated with diverse regions. As these smaller units seek to fulfill exextuive level requirments and quotas, they face the asociated challenges of meeting these objectives through limited and restricted types of resources (References for Business, 2018). This can include  budget and funding related limitations, as one of the key issues impacting the broader organization includes financial concerns that impact the broader firm (Hall & Perry, 2013). DeRusha`s (2012) analysis, specifically, noted that issues of financial oversight often represent a growing concern among local chapters as tracking their contributions, as they go to fund executive-level operations, is not always an easy process. Given that the organization relies primarily on private contributions as a revenue driver, this can represent a serious potentialy issue.

Secondly, the organization also faces challenges associated with its reliance upon a mixture of both salaried and volunteer-based personnel. As a nonprofit orgaanization, the Girl Scouts only pays a select number of executive personnel operating at the national, assocation, and service unit levels. These members support the work of volunteers, may of whom are required to carry out essentail functions without seeking recompnese for their services. This can periodically create key tensiions among volunteers, as they do not recieve the same level of compensation as the superivising officers (Hall & Perry, 2013; Timm, 2016). Another key issue relates to the issues associated with representation. Simply stated, as the organization continues to grow, some critics note that the firm`s central organization may not always be addressing the concerns of internal diversity (Campbell, 2016). These observations imply, in brief, that management`s failure to understand the needs of its varied constituents may serve to both create and exasperate existing problems.

Potential solutions to the labor/management problem

At one level, the current labor/management problems and disputes reflects some of the broader tends associated with nonprofit models. These issues, specifically, stem from the organization`s reliance upon private and public funding for support, even as it also attempts to effectively manage its internal and external functions (Brown, 2015; National Council of Nonprofits, 2018). At the same time, however, the organization could potentially address this problem by more effectively mediating conflicts between volunteer-based labor and the firm`s executive and local-level leadership. Specifically, the strategy of including mediators that can help address labor-related problems and negotiate with management might be viewed as an effective approach to this issue (Cohen, 2013).

The Girl Scouts could, for example, appoint mediators at the service center level. This approach could provide necessary levels of external support for the volunteers working at the local level, while also cutting the costs associated with appointing a mediator at each individual location (Hurwit and Associates, 2018). Secondly, the firm could also improve current labor/management relations by more effectively communicating with its local chapters, and by demystifying some of its financial reporting processes (Akingboa, 2013). Finally, firm management could improve its labor relations by addressing the issues of workload, and diversity-based representation: two of the major concerns impacting local chapters and its broader organization.

Concluding thoughts on labor disputes dealing with the Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts` organizational dimensions features both primary strengths and associative weaknesses. The task of improving key issues impacting the relationship between its volunteers and broader service organization could help resolve many of the labor-related disputes that negatively impact its operation. 

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Akingboa, K. (2013). A model of strategic nonprofit human resources management. International Journal of Voluntary Nonprofit Organizations, 24(1), 214-240.

Anheier, H. (2006). Nonprofit organizations: Theory, management, policy. New York: Routledge.

Brown, W. (2015). Strategic management in nonprofit organizations. New York: Jones and Bartlett. 

Campbell, A. (2016). Girl Scouts: Still mostly white. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/05/girl-scouts-recruitment/484757/.

Cohen, R. (2013). Unions and the nonprofit workforce: A few considerations. NPQ. Retrieved from: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2013/08/08/unions-and-the-nonprofit-workforce-a-few-considerations/.

DeRusha, J. (2012). Good question: Where does Girl Scout cookie money go? CBS Minnesota. Retrieved from: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/03/07/good-question-where-does-girl-scout-cookie-money-go/.

Girl Scouts. (2018a). Our leadership. Retrieved from: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/our-leadership.html.

Girl Scouts. (2018b). Who we are. Retrieved from: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/who-we-are.html.

Girl Scouts Nation`s Capital. (2018). Our structure. Retrieved from: http://www.gscnc.org/en/council/our-structure.html.

Hall, H. & Perry, S. (2013). Girl Scouts` financial and leadership woes threaten 100 year-old group. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved from: https://www.philanthropy.com/article/FinancialLeadership-Woes/155055. 

Hurwit and Associates. (2018). Nonprofit organizations as employers. Retrieved from: http://www.hurwitassociates.com/employment_law.

Myrie, S. (2007). The Girl Scouts: Uncharted territory. NPQ. Retrieved from: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2007/09/21/the-girl-scouts-uncharted-territory/.

National Council of Nonprofits. (2018). Managing nonprofit employees. Retrieved from: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/managing-nonprofit-employees.

Nonprofit Explorer. (2016). Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Retrieved from: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131624016.

Non-Profit Pro. (2007). Smart cookies. Retrieved from: https://www.nonprofitpro.com/article/girl-scouts-usa-historically-has-relied-self-generating-funding-system-but-approaches-century-mark-sweeping-organizational.

Presoto, A., Fontana, I., & Souza, R. (2010). Organization management in non-profit organizations. Sao Paulo: University of Sao Paulo.

References for Business. (2018). Nonprofit organizations. Retrieved from:http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Mar-No/Nonprofit-Organizations.html.

Stewart, N. (2014). Boy and girl scouts: An organizational and historical appraoch to understanding 

socilaization and gendered leadership. Atlanta: Georgia State University.

Timm, J. (2016). The plight of the overworked nonprofit employee. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/the-plight-of-the-overworked-nonprofit-employee/497081/.

Von Eckardstein, D. & Brandl, J. (2004). Human resource managment in nonprofit organizations. In 

Zimmer, A.& Priller, E. Civil Society in Transition: Engagement and nonproit organizations in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (99-119). Berlin: VS Publishing.

Walk, M. & Kennedy, T. (2016). Making nonprofits more effective: Perfroance managment and perfomrance apprasials. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue Univesity.



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Ultius, Inc. "Research Paper on the Management of the Girl Scouts." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 10, 2018. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-labor-and-management-in-the-nonprofit-sector-the-girl-scouts-of-america.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Research Paper on the Management of the Girl Scouts." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 10, 2018. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/research-paper-on-labor-and-management-in-the-nonprofit-sector-the-girl-scouts-of-america.html.

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