Six Tips for Finding Community Partners
We’ve all been there. There’s a badge or an activity that the girls are super excited to try and we know that the skills required for that badge are so outside of our comfort zone that just thinking about it makes us anxious.
Maybe your Cadettes want to earn the Digital Movie Maker badge and you’ve yet to master programming your DVR. Or your Juniors are ready to test out their Simple Meals abilities and you burn toast on a regular basis.
So what do you do? You find a community partner!
How do you find one? Here are some of our favorite tips for connecting with partners in our communities to give girls the amazing experiences they need to grow into confident women.
Spread the Word
Don’t forget to use your human resources. Ask the girls (and their parents) who they know or what organization they recommend contacting who has experience with that skill or badge area.
Mention at the monthly volunteer meeting that your troop wanted to work on the Digital Movie Maker badge and see if another troop has a contact that helped them earn it.
Join our Volunteer Support Group on Facebook and post your need to the Girl Scout community there. Odds are, out of your extended networks, someone will have a great idea or a contact.
Involve the Girls
Girl Scouts is girl-led. So make sure to let the girls be part of your brainstorming and recruiting efforts!
Think of an age-appropriate way they can participate in this process. A great way to include them is to have them tell the partner why they want to do this in person, in a letter, or Daisies could create drawings.
We all know it’s really hard to say no to determined children who have a goal and a plan for achieving that goal (our cookie sale success proves this)!
Make a Plan
Once you’ve identified a potential partner, it’s time to figure out what you need from them and what you’re willing to do for them.
Do you want them to facilitate all five steps of the badge, or just one or two? Are you willing to travel to them? Buy any supplies?
Talk to the girls and help them plan out asking the potential partner for help. Think about who will make the ask (are the girls able to do it?), what will they ask for (specifics), and how to respond to their answer. You can even write a short script (check out this article on how to ask for pointers) and role play possible answers (enthusiastic yes, tentative maybe, apologetic no) so that everyone feels prepared.
Remember to make it a question, and to ask for something concrete and specific such as “our Cadette troop needs to connect with a local expert to earn part of our Digital Movie Maker badge, we’d love to come to your TV station and go on a tour with a member of your camera crew.”
They may end up offering more or less than what you ask, but the conversation will go better (and they’ll call you back faster) if the message and the request are specific. You can even bring a copy of the badge requirements so the potential partner can see exactly what is needed and can judge what parts they are best equipped to help girls earn.
Tug at Their Heartstrings
People are much more inclined to say yes when their emotions are engaged. So don’t shy away from passionate pleas!
We’re not saying you have to make them cry, but be sure to help the person understand the mission behind what you are asking of them. Why are you asking them to come demonstrate something about their career/hobby? Because they’re going to inspire the next generation of women in that field—that’s why!
Potential partners should know what Girl Scouts does (we build confident, courageous girls who change our world) and how their contribution will help make that mission a reality.
Expect a “Yes”
Attitude influences results. If you and the girls go in expecting to be rejected, you probably will be.
Instead, start the conversation with the expectation that they’re going to say yes. It’ll put a smile in your voice and confidence in your words. Then if their answer is no, and there will be some “no’s,” make sure to thank them anyway for their time and move forward on brainstorming a Plan B.
Don’t let the girls (or yourself) get discouraged. Learning to persevere and to meet obstacles with grit is the key to success.
So are you ready to find a partner and tackle that difficult badge now? Armed with a plan, a plea, and backed by your girls, we know you can!