Home > Volunteer Resources > Volunteer Essentials > Quick Start Guide > Girl Scouts' Organizational Structure

Girl Scouts' Organizational Structure

Girl Scouts is the world’s largest organization of and for girls, currently encompassing 2.3 million girl members and nearly one million volunteers! Three core structures support all these members: the national headquarters, your council, and your support team.

National Organization and Worldwide Sisterhood
The national office of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), located in New York City, employs roughly 400 employees. (Visit GSUSA online, where you’ll find a wealth of resources for both girls and volunteers.)  GSUSA is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). 

Global Girl Scouting ensures that girls have increased awareness about the world, cross-cultural learning opportunities, and education on relevant global issues that may inspire them to take action to make the world a better place. Visit Global Girl Scouting online for additional information.

Since 1925, USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO), a division of Global Girl Scouting, has helped ease the transition for American families relocating overseas by offering the familiar traditions and exciting opportunities of Girl Scouting to girls abroad. USAGSO now serves thousands of American girls living overseas, as well as girls attending American or international schools. Through Global Girl Scouting, members participate in World Thinking Day on February 22, visit the four WAGGGS world centers (see the “For Travel Volunteers” appendix), participate in international travel, promote global friendship and understanding by supporting the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, and take action on global issues.

Your Council - Girl Scouts of Western Ohio
Girl Scout councils are chartered by the national office to establish local responsibility for leadership, administration, and supervision of Girl Scout program, and to develop, manage, and maintain Girl Scouting in a geographic area. The national office provides support materials to all councils to ensure that the Girl Scout experience is nationally consistent. 

Your Support Team
A team of volunteers and staff provides you with local support, learning opportunities, and advice. As a volunteer, you will have the most contact with your Girl Scout support team, known as your service unit. Never hesitate to contact them, because your support team is your expert in all things Girl Scouting. If you have questions about the Girl Scout program, working with girls, resources in the national program portfolio (leadership journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting), or selling Girl Scout Cookies and other products, go to your team for answers and ongoing support.

Belonging to a Service Unit
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is divided into geographic sections known as service units. Members of the service unit generally live or serve girls within a service unit’s boundaries. The needs of the members of the service unit determine the frequency, purpose and content of service unit meetings and other communication methods. Typical meeting activities include learning, planning, discussion of successes and challenges with girls, and circulation of information. Girl Scout leaders/volunteers are encouraged to participate in service unit meetings to strengthen the support network of each community. In addition to service unit meetings, the council website provides information on current council resources and program and training opportunities. 
Purpose of the Service Unit
The service unit is a dynamic support system that through diverse methods and the support of the local community provides the Girl Scout program to girls and adults. It is the embodiment of the Girl Scout movement within the local community. Within this role the service unit has the responsibility to:
  • Extend membership
  • Provide direct support to girls and adults
  • Educate the community about the benefits of Girl Scouting
  • Act as a communication center for Girl Scouts

The Essential Functions of the Service Unit
The service unit fulfills its role by ensuring that:
  • Messages and activities of the service unit reflect the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and Council Goals.
  • Volunteers and the community are engaged in developing plans that meet their needs and interests through a variety of methods.
  • An environment is created that builds a volunteer’s personal alignment with the Girl Scout mission and goals. 
  • Within each of the functions of the service unit supports will be consistent, flexible, and provide ease of access to the Girl Scout experience.
  • Volunteers receive ongoing coaching and education by designated paid staff that equips them to be successful in their role.

Service Unit Circle
A service unit circle is a grouping of two to seven adjacent service units that work together to share access to an extended network of opportunities and support for girls, volunteers and parents. All service units are a part of a larger service unit circle. Service unit circles will be supported by one community engagement manager, who is responsible for coordinating communication across the service unit circle communities. All service unit circles are encouraged to share resources and program/training opportunities across their circle’s service units.

More Leadership Opportunities for More Girls - A New Model for Support
We researched and learned from volunteers, parents, girls and community members about how we can do a better job in providing more leadership opportunities for more girls.  Using the information we gathered, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has redesigned the way that we provide services, to:
  • Improve our customer service,
  • Streamline access to information and resources,
  • Provide more flexibility and more options for volunteers, parents and girls to get involved in Girl Scouts.


What's New?

We will work differently:

  • Focus on excellent customer service with volunteers and parents.
  • Flexible service unit structure around key service unit positions and areas of work (through service unit committees).
  • Improved communication with parents.
  • Shared, enhanced community plans that are made up of
    -The service unit plan
    -(Staff) Membership recruitment plans
    -(Staff) Retention plans
    -Service unit data (including 3 year membership data) 
      • Improved “on-boarding” of new leaders.
      • Increased community based program opportunities.
      • Increased focus on adult recruitment.
      • Service unit circles provide a network of volunteer support and program opportunities.
      • More options for girl participation, including:
        -Community Troops (pilot)
        -Volunteer Led Series       
        -Me and My Gal Activities (pilot)
New Technology:
  • eBiz improvements—easier for families and leaders (fall rollout).
  • Electronic monthly newsletters for volunteers and parents.
  • Doubleknot Online Camp Reservation System provides real time reservations and view of camp availability.
  • Online site for posting shared service unit plans, service unit data (including secure list of Girl Scout members) and service unit/service unit circle calendar of events (fall roll-out).
  • Electronic deposit of all council checks directly to service unit, day camp and troop accounts.
  • Overall—a volunteer should be able to access everything online that is required to be a leader and manage her troop
Registering for Administrative Volunteer Positions in eBiz
 The drop down menu in eBiz has a limited number of positions, which do not generally match our new service team positions.  Below is a “translation” of the current positions to the eBiz options you will use when registering.