How subs help us to make a difference

We know asking for subs feels odd right now, but we can't sustain our organisation for the future without them

13 January 2021

The last year has been one of adaptation, to lockdowns and changing restrictions, the moments when we could meet face to face and those when we couldn’t.

We’ve all had to get used to doing guiding a little differently.

Even though we’ve all had to change how we do guiding, we continue to make a difference and provide activities and opportunities for girls and young women. We know asking for subs feels odd at this time, but like any organisation, we have running costs and the annual subscription is vital. It contributes to every level of Girlguiding and helps sustain the organisation for the future.

Without subs, we'd struggle to support volunteers to run activities and make a difference to girls’ and young women’s lives. From the £17.70 Girlguiding HQ subscription, over half is used to support members and keep them safe, such as developing activities and safeguarding.

The Girlguiding staff team have been working hard to adapt and support members to make sure you have the information and guidance needed to continue guiding. This includes creating template letters to support communications about subs.

We’ve also loved seeing and hearing how you've carried on guiding during this time. Now, to show where some of the subscription goes, we’d like to give an insight into how we’ve continued at Girlguiding HQ, collaborating with volunteers on many of these projects to support members.

With subs due from February, it’s more important than ever to shout out about all that Girlguiding offers, so together we can continue to be here for girls and young women.

Adapting to coronavirus

Staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard together to support everyone to get back to guiding safely and in a way that was right for them, whether virtually, indoor or outdoor and as restrictions allowed.

Girlguiding has taken extraordinary steps to protect our members during Covid-19 and support their mental health. Many of you are facing unprecedented challenges and pressures in your day to day lives. Where leaders felt able to carry on guiding, we’ve quickly adapted and changed, to make sure we continue to support them to deliver exceptional experiences for girls.

Some of the key pieces of work staff have collaborated on to make continuing guiding as easy as possible include virtual guiding guidance, adapting programme activities, and programme plans.

“We are continuing with our virtual meetings and commissioners are continuing to check in with units. I’ve been very touched to hear about what some of our leaders are doing, from delivering activity packs on foot to sending party poppers with completed Brownie interest badges, to promises being done on Zoom.” - Harriet, volunteer

Adventures at home

Adventures at home launched in March offering online activities to all and making some of our award-winning programme readily available.

We created a range of new fun games, activities, and resources for all age groups to help keep the guiding spirit alive while units weren’t meeting physically. These new resources are for girls and young people to do at home and for those who are meeting virtually with their unit.

We created:

  • Virtual games: These 5-10 minute games are for each section. Units can use them for their online meetings and ideas were sourced from leaders. We'll be building a bank of virtual games over the coming months.
  • Challenges: Every age group can complete these challenges on their own at home, whether they can access virtual guiding or not. Activity sheets accompany the challenges, supporting young people to engage in and explore the topic.
  • How to videos: We’ve made videos of unit meeting activities for every section. These can be used in online meetings or girls can choose to do them on their own.

Adventures at home festival

Back in May, the country was coming to the end of a strict lockdown that had kept many confined to their homes for months. During these difficult times, when events were cancelled and units were closed, we brought our membership together for the Adventures at home festival and invited the wider public to join us as we took our festival experience online and into people’s homes.

The festival was a huge success with nearly 20,000 households tuning in on the day, with more views after the event. Hundreds of photos were shared on social media, with volunteers, girls and parents getting in the spirit across the UK, putting up tents in their gardens, making indoor dens, creating festival wristbands and much more. 91% of volunteers and 88% of parents said they felt more connected to Girlguiding following the festival.

“One of the highlights of guiding in lockdown was discovering the Adventures at home festival in May. We loved being part of that day and tried out so many of the activities and challenges. The slime, fudge in a bag, and making butter were really good and we’ve re-watched a lot of it since that day!” - Tiffany, parent of a Guide
“I was so proud of all the amazing hard work of the Girlguiding team in pulling off our first virtual event in just over a month! It was brilliant to see so many girls and families united, watching the different sessions, learning new skills and having fun. During such a difficult time, we’re proud to have been able to share a bit of entertainment and light.” - Maria, Girlguiding marketing team

Virtual Panto – Sisterhood in the Wood

We brought everyone together again ahead of the festive period for a bit of panto fun. We worked with children’s theatre company Join the Dots and premiered Sisterhood in the Wood on Saturday 5 December. Around 15,000 households tuned in on the day with a further 14K watching since!

Keeping guiding going

We moved training online in 2020 to continue to support your training needs. The volunteer webinar team wrote 15 new training modules and refreshed the existing training modules too. Throughout the year, over 8,000 participants joined 421 live online training sessions.

To enable you to keep guiding, whether online or face to face when restrictions allowed, we created template risk assessments, including Covid-19 specific parts, to help keep everyone safe. These templates cover:

  • Meeting face to face outdoors
  • Meeting face to face indoors
  • Managing property
  • Holding virtual meetings
“Thanks for the helpful resources. You’ve made it easy and helped us feel safe.” - Volunteer
“The aim of this project was to help volunteers to navigate the myriad of guidance and regulation that was produced by the various nation governments so that they could meet face to face again reassured they were doing the right thing.” - Sally, volunteer policy team

Keeping members updated

As guidance has changed throughout the year, we’ve shared the latest information across our social media channels, so you know what you need to do to keep guiding.

Our social media channels have brought us all together, sharing ideas and activities. During the year we’ve posted and responded to 5,800 messages across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

And we’ve been keeping our website updated with the latest news and guidance too. Our Coronavirus updates and FAQs page has been regularly reviewed and updated with every government announcement. We’ve worked hard to share the right information at the right time, as well as covering the specific local guidance across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This page was visited almost 300,000 times last year!


In 2020 we continued to work with corporate partners to provide opportunities for members.

We’ve partnered with Zoom to provide 8,000 free licences so meetings could move online. From 1 September to 14 October, 25,359 meetings took place on Zoom.

“The absolute best part of being able to help leaders to Zoom has been seeing their faces fill with complete joy when they first see their girls after months of not seeing them.” - Lisa, Guide and Ranger unit helper

For the Adventures at home festival in May, we worked with the Royal Society of Chemistry, Google, Aardman, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Football Association (FA) to provide fun activities.

Our new partnership with GO Outdoors offered a discount launch for leaders, parents, volunteers and girls. There was also the Map my adventure competition with a prize of a £500 voucher.

Another new partner, Barclays, ran digital training, including how to use Zoom and Google Meet, to help volunteers run online meetings.

We know the impact of Covid-19 makes collecting subs more challenging this year. Support and guidance are available. Why not take a look at template letters for talking to parents about subs, unit subs during coronavirus, and how subs are used to keep guiding going.