Girl Scouts survive impact of pandemic with help

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Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay used drive-through cookie sales to boost fundraising this year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GSCB

NEWARK – Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay CEO Claudia Porretti had just returned from a two-week cruise through the Panama Canal in March 2020 when her world was turned upside down.

The GSCB serves thousands of Girl Scouts in 14 counties, including Delaware and the east coast of Maryland and Virginia. With the pandemic curtailing the typical Girl Scout recruiting and fundraising drives and canceling its in-person programming, the GSCB has been forced to lay off staff, including its finance department, and institute remote working for those who do. remained.

“We knew that donors were providing essential funds to nonprofits that were ‘boots on the ground’ to meet basic community needs, such as shelter and food,” she said. , noting that the GSCB Board of Directors had agreed to withdraw a grant applicant. to support the efforts of these organizations.

With a need to manage chaotic cash flow and complete its annual audit process, GSCB turned to Your part-time controller (YPTC), a company that Porretti had previous experience with when she ran the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington.

YPTC is a 29-year-old accounting firm that serves the non-profit sector, providing all kinds of accounting and financial services. Founded in Philadelphia, it now has eight offices across the country, including one opened last year in Delaware led by Angela Coaxum.

“For the most part, nonprofits weren’t as prepared as you might want to handle an emergency scenario like the pandemic, but they have pivoted,” Coaxum said, noting his company has worked with. a variety of non-profit organizations last year to analyze cash flow. flows, identify grant opportunities and apply for federal forgivable loans. “The great thing about nonprofits is that they don’t just think about results, but also their employees and customers. “

Porretti said the GSCB took the break imposed by the pandemic to assess its communications strategy and subsequently upgraded its website to keep Scouts, their families and the public up to date on their efforts.

The pandemic has also led Girl Scouts to bring their famous annual cookie sales more online, selling them through websites and partnering with delivery service GrubHub to drop boxes at customers’ doors. Porretti said these efforts, combined with drive-thru sales at Dover Downs and other venues as well as standard storefront sales, led to a record year for GSCB in 2021.

“We ended our cookie season with no inventory for the first time in recent memory,” she said proudly, acknowledging the efforts of the young women and their local leaders.

While YPTC has helped Girls Scouts close a budget gap, better fundraising and a return to in-person events has enabled GSCB to rehire members of the finance department.

“YPTC has helped us meet our financial needs. Not only did they provide essential audit support, but they ensured that all of our invoices were paid on time and they trained our new finance staff as well as accounting reviews for our potential candidates, ”noted Porretti.

The lean GSCB is however well positioned to grow again in the fall, with more funding and a focus on recruiting and marketing. He also just received a grant of $ 500,000 from the Longwood Foundationn to support its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming.

“The pandemic has been an unexpected opportunity for us. It gave us time to pause, reflect and reset, and, as I told my board, it was the catalyst for the changes we envisioned, ”said Porretti. “We entered it in order not only to survive but to prosper.”


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