Girl Scout Council Rejects $100K from Donor Demanding Exclusion of Transgender Girls—But Wait!


June 30, 2015; Christian Science Monitor

Standing by your principles can sometimes feel difficult when dealing with donors, but it also provides an opportunity to amplify those principles to the public, looking for those who are more deeply aligned with your cause.

Megan Ferland, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, says that they were “thrilled” when they received a $100,000 donation earlier this year—it was a quarter of their annual goal in one fell swoop. But then a letter followed from the donor, who wrote, “Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”

The council promptly returned the gift as was right, of course, but as with all good fundraisers, they found riches in the opportunity by establishing a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with the message, “Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls.” As this is written, $245,950 has been raised from nearly 4,830 donors. That took two days.

There is some precedent in the Girl Scouts network in terms of this issue. In 2012, a Colorado troop initially refused to accept a seven-year-old transgender girl, but Girl Scouts of Colorado quickly clarified the network’s position:

“We accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout. Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them.”

As NPQ readers know, many women’s colleges have been taking up this issue and making explicit their policies about their acceptance standards for transgender women over the past year.—Ruth McCambridge

  • This is something my company has to deal with on occasion. We are a small-, woman- and minority-owned content marketing agency and because we work with a variety of clients crossing many niches, it can be easy to lose track of what values and missions each company has along with their company culture.

    Not all that long ago I was faced with a similar problem. A company approached us to do some writing and design work for them and on the surface they looked great; we were excited as it represented a lot of work for us. Digging just a little deeper, I learned they had ties to a racist organization. I promptly declined the offer and moved on. When I brought it to their attention, they were unapologetic about it, as was I.

    As small business owners and non-profits we must be especially diligent because the WalMarts and Microcofts of the world neither have the time nor frankly the inclination.

    CEO, Coquí Content Marketing