Home / Blog / Social Media for Nonprofits Closeup: Building Social Partnerships Panel

Social Media for Nonprofits Closeup: Building Social Partnerships Panel

ConnectVA Spotlight- Building Social Partnerships

On May 4th, ConnectVA will present the only day-long social media conference in the region for nonprofits, government and community-based organizations! You will learn best practices, trends, and need-to-know information to connect your organization with social media to drive change. The day will feature field experts, panel discussions and a presentation and workshop from internationally-acclaimed Master Trainer, Beth Kanter, author of the “Networked Nonprofit” books.

ConnectVA’s Social Media for Nonprofits Conference 2016
Becoming a Networked Nonprofit, featuring Beth Kanter

05.04.16 | 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM | $85 – $95

Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen | 2880 Mountain Rd, Glen Allen, VA 23060

Register here!

Below are conversations we had with the panelists – who are leading a breakout session on “Building Social Partnerships.” Learn more about:

Jonah Holland | Tabitha Frizzell Treloar | Kelly Fitzgerald | Caroline Logan

Jonah Holland
Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Jonah Holland

Describe yourself/your role in your organization in 140 characters.

My role is twofold, inspiring people to visit, & for those who can’t visit, bringing the Garden (& education) to them wherever they may be.

What is social media’s role in your organization’s overall communications strategy?

Social media allows us to reach new audiences and build stronger relationships with our visitors and our community. It’s great because we get to have a dialogue with visitors who share their photos and experiences with us, in addition to us sharing information with them.

The backbone of our social media program is our blog. Since our mission is education, the blog is a perfect platform for us to “geek out” a little bit about plants, gardening and our horticultural passions. The blog has the added value of being shareable across platforms, having multiple contributors with specific areas of expertise,  and it helps to drive web traffic and increase SEO.  Best of all, the blog content doesn’t fade away like other social media does. If someone wants to know about mulching in winter, how to use “good” bugs to fight “bad” bugs in your vegetable garden,  learn about all the different types of hydrangea that grow at the Garden, and how they differ, or see the top 10 ways we practice sustainability at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Any of these topics are helpful and relevant information that can be accessed year after year.
We use Facebook and Pinterest to engage with our core audience, while reaching out to younger and more diverse audiences through Twitter and Instagram. We also engage on Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, sometimes sharing across platforms as appropriate.  Trip Advisor and Yelp offer a great way to get real time feedback about visitor experiences.  Ultimately we are here to add value for our all of our diverse audiences, so we keep that top of mind in everything we do.

Tell us about a successful online collaboration you formed with another nonprofit or business.

We’ve partnered with many organizations: Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, Richmond SPCA, FeedMore Inc, University of Richmond, VCU, the Richmond Symphony, the Richmond Ballet, the Science Museum of Virginia, Blue Sky Fund, Virginia Tourism Corporation, American Public Gardens Association, Richmond 2015 (UCI Road World Championships), and The Jefferson Hotel to name a few. With so many nonprofits in Richmond who have similar, or overlapping missions, it just makes sense. The collaboration with the most extensive number of other organizations partnering is our work with Virginia Tourism Corporation, Visit Richmond, and Richmond Garden Trail.  The Richmond Garden Trail is a ready-made itinerary of some of eight great local attractions featuring stellar gardens, all within 10 miles of each other. Plus we include a few “garden secrets” along the way. Partners include VMFA, the Poe Museum, Maymont, Agecroft, Virginia Center for Architecture, Capitol Square, and the Valentine, along with two hotels. The idea was that by working together we could encourage both local and out-of-town visitors to visit more gardens. In addition to its own page on Visit Richmond’s website, the @RVAGardenTrail Instagram and #RVAGardenTrail Instagram hashtag are widely used. This was a win-win-win for all involved.

Why should participants come to the panel discussion?

Simply put, collaboration between organizations is the best way to do the most good using the least resources (time, energy, and expense.) By learning the best practices of organizations who are already doing this, you can see how to use these techniques in your own work. Everyone wants to partner, but we’ll show you how to make it happen. Plus, look around you at the workshop and connect with the other nonprofits attending. These are your people! They are here looking for ways to amplify their work using both online and in person collaboration too. We’ll allow plenty of time at the end of the session for matchmaking and connecting with other nonprofits.

Jonah Holland is PR & Marketing Coordinator at the nonprofit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She has led the Garden’s award-wining social media program since 2008, under PR Director Beth Monroe.  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has won numerous awards and was recently recognized among the nation’s top 4 botanical gardens (USA Today, 2016).  Holland attended VCU School of Mass Communications, and is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Tabitha Frizzell Treloar

Tabitha Frizzell Treloar
Director of Communications
Richmond SPCA

Describe yourself/your role in your organization in 140 characters.

Drawing attention to animal welfare issues and lifesaving initiatives of the Richmond SPCA. Powered by coffee. Searching for lint roller.

What is social media’s role in your organization’s overall communications strategy? 

We integrate social media into all aspects of the Richmond SPCA’s communications strategy.  Our two-person communications team focuses on tailoring content to various platforms and media that showcases the work of each department making up the Richmond SPCA, promoting the programs and services available to the community and engaging with a wide array of constituents online. Messages are often evolving across platforms – behind-the-scenes photos from a photo shoot for invitations to a black-tie gala will be shared on Instagram, an alumni update received on our Facebook page will be included in the next print newsletter, a feature story from the newsletter is updated on our blog after the pet is placed in a loving home, the video that debuts at our annual Fur Ball is later made available on YouTube.  

Tell us about successful online collaborations you formed with another nonprofit or business.

Priority Automotive: For five years Priority Automotive Richmond has fully sponsored adoptions at the Richmond SPCA for a period during the month of December. While the promotion has garnered some traditional media attention in some years of the partnership, social media has been the primary way of spreading the news of the sponsorship in which the auto retailer pays the adoption fee for all qualified adopters for a period of 13-15 days. The Facebook post announcing the December 2015 promotion reached nearly 60,000 people after being shared more than 300 times.

As this relationship has continued, each holiday season there are adopters from prior years whose feline or canine companions joined their families thanks to Priority Automotive Richmond’s sponsorship, and they come to our Facebook page (primarily, though some also post to Instagram and Twitter) to share updates and gratitude to the retailer for their beloved pets. It has generated a great deal of good will for Priority, reflected in comments from potential car buyers who express intent to shop at one of the company’s Richmond dealerships. The increased adoptions during the sponsored period enable the Richmond SPCA to bring in more needy animals from surrounding city and county operated shelters.

Pasture: In the summer of 2015, the owner of Pasture made a post to the restaurant’s Facebook page in support of the Richmond SPCA on “National Dog Day.” The post pledged a $1 donation for every like, and $2 for each dog photo comment. It quickly gathered likes and comments totaling $2,000!

The following day, we visited the staff at Pasture with Waggles, our Humane Education Spokesdog, and Prince, a dog available for adoption, to thank them, and a photo of that visit expressing gratitude reached another 6,851 people on Facebook. The restaurant then scheduled a pet-friendly Pups on the Patio cocktail hour on Sept. 2 to celebrate Pasture’s donation, dogs and the Richmonders who love them.

If you could only use one social media tool what would it be and why? 

Since I launched the Richmond SPCA Blog in 2009, I have a strong bias toward that platform, largely because I consider myself a writer first and foremost, but it is also versatile in allowing storytelling through images and video along with text. I have to admit that it’s a bit of a “cheat” of an answer because the reach of the Richmond SPCA Blog is largely due to cross promotion on Facebook and Twitter. An attention grabbing headline for Twitter and a highly shareable photo or graphic for Facebook work together to draw traffic to the blog where we can flesh out the big picture animal welfare issues we need our supporters to understand.

Tabitha Frizzell Treloar, Director of Advancement  Tabitha joined the Richmond SPCA in 2005 as an admissions counselor soon after moving to Richmond from her home state of Mississippi. The following year, she was offered the opportunity to meld her skills as a communications professional with her new found passion for animal welfare as the organization’s community relations manager. In this role, Tabitha developed a presence for the local nonprofit in several emerging social media platforms and launched the Richmond SPCA Blog while working to secure increased editorial coverage in traditional media. For many years she was seen and heard on local television and radio programs, giving a voice to homeless dogs and cats through pet of the week segments on NBC 12, WRIC 8 News, Lite 98, 96.5 KLR and more. Positive coverage of the Richmond SPCA that Tabitha secured through relationships with local media has provided greater recognition of the programs and services provided to the community at the Robins-Starr Humane Center. Tabitha was promoted as director of advancement in 2012, and in this role she continues to oversee communications along with supervising the volunteers and programs department and working on fundraising strategy and messaging with the development department.

Kelly Fitzgerald

Kelly Fitzgerald
Associate Director of Donor and Government Relations
Patient Services, Inc. (PSI) 

Describe yourself/your role in your organization. 

 I’m the Associate Director of Donor and Government Relations for Patient Services, Inc. (PSI), a national non-profit organization that helps people with rare, chronic conditions access the care they need. I work to develop and implement PSI’s federal and state policy agenda. In addition to my policy work, I oversee alliance development, manage our social media advocacy and train patient advocates across the country to strategically utilize advocacy and social media to make their voices heard by elected officials.

What is social media’s role in your organization’s overall communications strategy?

Social media is an integral part of our overall communications strategy, but even more so for our advocacy strategy. It allows us to communicate with our patients, especially those who are members of our PSI Patient Coalition, in an easy, user-friendly way that increases the likelihood they’ll get involved and take action on a specific policy issue. They have such compelling stories, and are always looking for ways to get involved so they can make a difference for themselves and others who are facing the same challenges. Social media offers them that opportunity, because they can harness the power of that story and communicate it effectively to an elected official all from the comfort of their living room.

Tell us about a successful online collaboration you formed with another nonprofit or business.

PSI successfully partnered with over 20 patient advocacy organizations in 2015 to lead the Fair Copay VA Campaign (www.faircopayva.org ). The campaign educated members of the Virginia General Assembly, as well as the public, about access challenges that patients with rare, chronic conditions were facing, such as high out-of-pocket costs for specialty medications. Social media and online advocacy were central components of the campaign. Utilizing these tools, we were able to bring together numerous organizations under one umbrella and amplify their voices. With online calls to action promoted on the social media platforms of the campaign and each individual organization, we generated over 800 constituent letters and drove unprecedented traffic to our campaign website. Members of the General Assembly were able to use social media platforms to interact and support the campaign as well. Because of the success of the campaign, lawmakers are continuing to study this issue and trying to find a solution that will help Virginia patients.

If you could only use one social media tool what would it be and why?

For advocacy, it would be Twitter, hands down. It allows us to communicate with both our advocates and targeted elected officials in real time. A symbiotic, promotional relationship can be developed that benefits not only the goals of a policy campaign, but also the elected official who hopes to promote the good work they’re doing. Reaching the public at large to educate them on an issue they may have never known about otherwise is also extremely effective I find on this platform.

Kelly Fitzgerald is a nationwide patient advocacy leader with over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit health care sector. Along with her direct policy work, she trains advocates and organizations how to harness the power of social media to make their voices heard by elected officials. Utilizing strategic messaging, online campaigns and targeted social media, she helps nonprofit organizations affect change through both the legislative and regulatory process. She also serves on the board of the Virginia Quality Health Care Network (VQHN), writes popular RVA blog, Austen Hill, and sings in local bluegrass band, Church Hill Music Co.

Caroline Logan

Caroline Logan
Director of Communications
Virginia Tourism Corporation

What are the top 3 things you want people to know about your organization or business?

Virginia is for Lovers is one of the most iconic travel brands in the world, and is the slogan for Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as the premiere destination for travel and film. What I’d like people to know is that Virginia is way more than just history — we are also a destination for food lovers, oyster lovers, wine lovers, outdoors lovers, and more. When you vacation in Virginia, you get to do the things you love to do with those you love most.

If you had to choose only one social media tool to use each day, what would it be and why?

Personally and professionally, my pick would be Instagram. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram is a fantastic way to express your brand and how you are making an impact through visuals.

What is social media’s role in your organization’s overall communications strategy?

Social media plays a huge part of our overall communications strategy. Our marketing departments work hard to make sure our strategies and executions are in sync– through paid, earned, and owned media. We all want to be telling the same story, and reading from the same page. Social media is a way to reach consumers in real time with engaging and interesting content.

Tell us about a successful online collaboration you formed with another nonprofit or business.

Last summer, we created a grassroots campaign to get the stars of SORTEDfood to come to Virginia as part of their Lost and Hungry roadtrip partnership with the TODAY Show. We were successful in this endeavor and they ended up staying in Virginia for 8 days– the longest period of time they had stayed in any one spot in the United States. Together, we captured stories about Virginia oysters, wine, craft beer, restaurants, chefs, farms, and overall travel experience to showcase to their audience– which is global (now, 1.5M subscribers and more than 197M views). It was an awesome partnership and shifted the way we do marketing at VTC, after we saw the power of collaborating with influencers and their heavily engaged audiences. Check out our Storify recap.

Caroline Logan serves as Director of Communications for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel destination and film location. Mrs. Logan previously worked as Deputy Director of Communications at the Office of the Attorney General and as Public Affairs Coordinator for FightSMA, an international non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). She serves as Chairwoman of the new Friends of FETCH community engagement alliance, which supports the mission and Board of Directors for Richmond-based non-profit FETCH a Cure. Previous nonprofit volunteer experience includes Richmond Animal League (RAL), Tredegar Society for the American Civil War Center, V Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Catwalk for Kids, Gulf Give RVA, and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni Association – Richmond Chapter. Mrs. Logan was raised in Richmond, Virginia and attended the Collegiate School. She is a graduate of the University of Richmond, where she studied Political Science and French. She presently resides in the historic Church Hill district of Richmond with her husband and their Goldendoodle, Millie.


FB Cover

BUILDING SOCIAL PARTNERSHIPS w/ Kim Russell, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia (moderator)

Collaborating online and offline can amplify your brand, your reach and your organization’s mission.  Hear from community leaders in this panel discussion that will give perspectives on building social partnerships with nonprofits, government, media and business.

One thought on “Social Media for Nonprofits Closeup: Building Social Partnerships Panel

  1. Maureen Carley

    I am really looking forward to this discussion. Non-profits seeking out and collaborating with other organizations and non-profits, creating mutually beneficial relationships. So exactly my “sweet spot”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *