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Social Media for Nonprofits Closeup: Jonah Holland, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

On March 19, 2015 ConnectVA presents the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference 2015 – “Mobile Technology for Social Good” featuring Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech for Good at WCVE Community Idea Station in Richmond, VA.

Register here for $65-$75 – tickets almost sold out!

During the Conference, 5 social media experts will lead workshops filled with best practices, tips, advice and takeaways to get you up-to-speed on the latest trends for nonprofits.  Learn about Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, social media expert and conference session leader:

Breakout Session Two: Creating Compelling Content

This dynamic workshop will dive into best practices for making your communications content more compelling, shareable and interactive.  Get a wealth of advice – from blogging, to story-telling, to visual tools, to creative contests and more! 

What are the top 3 things you want people to know about Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden?

1. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has stunning beauty all year long. Most folks think of us as a destination for Dominion GardenFest of Lights, or for spring blooms during A Million Blooms, but actually some of my favorite times at the Garden are fall when the leaves are changing (the ginkgo leaves are a beautiful brilliant yellow) or during Flowers After 5, when you can enjoy live music in the Garden, a glass of wine and the sunset over the Conservatory.  Winter at the Garden is so peaceful. There’s something about a winter garden that touches your soul. Walking in the brisk winter air and taking in nature is so important, and in today’s society we don’t often take enough time to do it. When you are walking through the Garden in winter come across an unexpected treasure like a spring crocus poking through the snow in February, it has a power over you to change your perspective, to inspire you in a way that nothing else can.

2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s mission is education. While some people might interpret that to mean that we teach classes (and we do!) the Garden takes it to a whole new level. To us education also means using social media to educate folks who might not have a chance to visit us in person. It means community outreach through Beautiful RVA,  a regional coalition of public and private agencies and organizations invested in improving the quality of life in greater Richmond through public horticulture, urban greening and beautiful place-making initiatives. It means setting a goal to grow 10,000 lbs. of fresh, local vegetables each year for for Central Virginia’s neediest citizens.  We know there are lots of different interpretations of education, and for many people learning happens in non-traditional ways. Through the outreach of the Community Kitchen Garden a child might learn that he loves homegrown cherry tomatoes, or a homebound senior might taste  a new superfood, broccoli greens, for the first time.

3. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden serves 12,000 students per year through our program offerings, of which about 3,000 attend free of charge. These visits are made possible thanks to the generous support of our donors.  We also offer free passes to visit the Garden to need-based groups via our Share the Garden Program.

We want to be the community’s garden and we are convinced that once people visit they will be come Garden Members and visit us time and time again.  One way we get people here for the first time is by offering free admission on July 4th each year.  Last year we welcomed 7,668 visitors from  the community during CarMax Free Fourth of July.

What does ?mobile technology for social good? mean to you?

Mobile Technology for Social Good to me means finding a way to make it easy for people to get engaged in causes they care about. These days, time more than anything else, is a factor limiting engagement and donations to nonprofit causes like Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. People want to give, they want to volunteer, and they want to get involved in causes that are important to them. It’s our job to make it easy and bring awareness to the community needs that are important.

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

Gee that’s a tough one!  I’d have to say Instagram, especially if I could push my Instagram feed through to other platforms like Tumblr and Twitter.  I like how easy it is to reach fans with a simple image, and how fun it is to share the beauty of a moment here at the Garden with the world. I like how Instagram hasn’t become as commercial as some other platforms. It’s easy to tell a story with Instagram. It’s easy to get an idea of what it’s like at the Garden by looking at our feed.

We love to drive engagement through Instagram contests.  For us, contests are a great way to see the Garden through our visitor’s eyes. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve learned something about the Garden by seeing someone else’s photo of what we have to offer here.  Currently we offer three contests annually: A Million Blooms,  (#MillionBlooms)  Butterflies LIVE! (#Bflies), and Dominion GardenFest of Lights (#GardenFest).

Register here for $65-$75 – tickets almost sold out!


Jonah Holland is PR & Marketing Coordinator at the nonprofit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She has led the Garden’s social media program since 2008.  In 2010 she won a Shorty Award for the Garden for her use of Twitter, and was named one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40.  In 2014 the Garden was named USA Today’s #2 Best Garden in North America, via a social media voting contest.

Holland has also worked with social media clients including the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Richmond Region Tourism, the Garden Club of Virginia, and the Social Media Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University (Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program).

She has placed stories in The Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Style Weekly, Richmond.com, Richmond Magazine, and successfully pitched stories via Twitter, in both Spanish and English.

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.

If you’d like to connect with her on Twitter, you can follow her at @LewisGinter — or on her personal twitter account @JonahHolland

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