10:59 am

Finding the Suite Spot: Building Relationships with Corporate Partners (Part II)

Finding the Suite Spot: Building Relationships with Corporate Partners (Part II)

Finding the Suite Spot is a three part blog series, written specifically for members of the nonprofit community. Part I focused on researching and defining the right corporate partner for your organization, customizing sponsorship opportunities and building strategic relationships (short or long term). In Part II, I will focus on the importance of building a sponsorship package, and identifying and creating the perfect “volunteer experience”. I’m going to share with you the three steps for building and sustaining successful partner relationships. Now that you feel more comfortable with getting your foot in the door using the techniques outlined in Part 1 and you have their attention, what’s next?

 Sponsorship Packages:

You may be wondering, what does a sponsorship package have to do with building a relationship? A lot depending on the corporation. The mindset of many community relations professions is beginning to shift with respect to the value-add from sponsorship of galas, runs and golf tournaments. Yes, brand awareness is a huge goal; however, what makes your gala stand out from others? Frankly, once a person attends a couple of galas, it becomes arduous to attend these types of events over and over. How do you overcome that? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Consider presenting a package deal.
    - While a gala, golfing event or run alone may not be enough to persuade an organization to donate funds, a combination of opportunities might be the answer. Perhaps a persuasive deal could include a combination of events and employee volunteer opportunities. A package deal ultimately shows that the agency is looking beyond the one-time event and is interested in truly getting the company engaged.
  • Think outside the traditional event box.
    - Some agencies are starting to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising and are raising record amounts of money as a result. Many are doing this by opting for a fun experience rather than a traditional one. Agencies are showing that they are not afraid to go big, be different, and find venues and personalities that will draw a crowd. I understand some smaller agencies may not be able to launch events in the same manner; however, there’s always a way to change things up a bit! For instance:
    - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta has an annual bowling event. It raises money while also offering sponsoring companies a chance to get in on the fun. Gas South uses this annual event as a team builder!
    - Literacy Action, an adult literacy agency, hosted “Spellabration”. The event was held in a ballroom and had the appeal of a gala, but guests played games. Our sponsorship package included an opportunity to play a game of Scrabble with many for profit and nonprofit agencies in Atlanta and participate in a spelling bee. It turned out to be a well-attended and fun event that provided social interaction while raising a record amount of money. It was obvious that a lot of thought went into planning the event and it’s one we will sponsor again next year.
    - MUST Ministries (Marietta, GA) replaced their traditional annual dressy gala with a large tailgate party held at the College Football Hall of Fame. The event was sold-out and provided attendees with the opportunity to see a brand new venue, take a tour, wear their favorite team jerseys, participate in a sports paraphernalia silent auction and meet retired University of Georgia Coach Vince Dooley. All of this was done while raising money for children and families. MUST even opted to forego the fancy food for true tailgate foods and sides like hot dogs and hamburgers which kept the event fun and casual.

Volunteer Experience:

In Part I, I touched on “Understanding Engagement Opportunities” and creating a volunteer experience. A growing number of corporations now request that agencies provide volunteer opportunities − a volunteer “experience” or a team building opportunity. When meeting with companies, be prepared to answer the following questions: Are you adequately staffed to host a group? What size group can you host? Is your staff open to this opportunity? These questions need to be considered when planning an event, and you need to be open and honest about what you can or cannot do. Conducting a volunteer event that you’re not prepared to handle can backfire – people typically do not shy away from sharing their experiences with others.

  • Family-Focused Volunteer Experiences – In this era of work-life balance, consider offering a family-focused volunteer experience. Younger families are often looking for volunteer events which will engage the entire family, particularly if the event occurs on a weekend.
  • Skills-Based Events – Companies often have, at their disposal, a plethora of skills and abilities that can aid nonprofits in their day-to-day operations. These “skills-based” opportunities often go untapped and offer even the smallest of players a chance to give back. Invite them to visit your agency, review some of your processes and create a win-win situation for you both parties. These projects have the potential to leave you with new technology, new training or perhaps free support!

Building relationships with corporate partners takes time and effort but if you put in that extra work and creativity, it could ultimately work to your benefit. What are some of the ways you have gone the extra mile or let your creative juices flow? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

The final part of this blog will cover the topic of sustaining the relationship.

3:06 pm

Allconnect and Gas South Celebrate 50,000th Transfer

Last week we celebrated the transfer of Gas South’s 50,000th call to Allconnect. To recognize the milestone, Allconnect representatives presented Gas South with a plaque and brought tasty treats for our Customer Care Center staff.

Allconnect is a leader in connecting consumers with essential home services. Since 2007, Allconnect has provided Gas South customers with a one-stop resource to receive personalized assistance with the selection and purchase of home services. Gas South customers who call to transfer or establish service have the opportunity to speak with an Allconnect home service advisor, who reviews the numerous home services options specifically available at their new address, including satellite TV, cable TV, Internet, phone and home security systems. After discussing the plans, promotions and bundles available, the advisor then takes the order and schedules installation, providing end-to-end service.

“We are pleased to be able to reach this milestone with Gas South,” said Sam Howe, Allconnect CEO. “It’s exciting to be a part of their success and we look forward to celebrating the next 50,000 transfers.”

Allconnect has been an excellent partner to Gas South for many years. We can’t thank both companies’ reps enough for their hard work and dedication to reach 50,000 calls.

4:36 pm

The First CNG Station in Cobb County is now Open

On Thursday, July 30th, Gas South, GAIN® Clean Fuel and Core-Mark opened Cobb County’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) station, located in Smyrna, Georgia. This new addition to the Smyrna community, will fuel a fleet of alternative energy trucks.

CNG is a readily available alternative fuel made by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Natural gas stations provide fuel for 135,000 vehicles in the U.S., with 20 CNG fuel stations in Georgia alone. Natural gas generates up to 90 percent fewer emissions and costs about 50 percent less than traditional gasoline and diesel.

Gas South’s team has been working hard for the last six years to see CNG become a reality throughout Georgia and in particular, the metro Atlanta area. By opening another CNG fuel station, GAIN Clean Fuel, with support from Gas South, is providing carriers with better access to a domestic energy supply that is both cleaner and cheaper than traditional fuels.

Gas South helps to connect the dots between customers interested in using CNG and station owners, so it’s very important that we do everything we can to make these facilities successful.  Gas South is the largest volume supplier of natural gas for CNG stations in Georgia and we are proud to have a number of facilities across the metro Atlanta area. Another plus to seeing more CNG stations open is that natural gas is abundant, domestic, inexpensive and clean – all huge benefits for our society and our economy.

“Projects like these show how great partnerships can succeed when working toward a common outcome that benefits so many,” said Clean Cities Georgia Board Chair William Cook. “In addition to the many benefits of CNG, fewer emissions will be produced which is good for the environment and for all of us. Plus, utilizing CNG helps create energy independence for America.”

Core-Mark’s commitment to a CNG program began with an initial conversion of its fleet. Today, there are 179 Core-Mark CNG tractors on the road with more planned in the future.

The other three stations in operation through this partnership are located in Aurora, Colorado; Sanford, North Carolina and Forrest City, Arkansas. A fifth station is under construction in Tampa, Florida and is scheduled to be in operation later this summer.

11:43 am

Community Partner Spotlight – The Wren’s Nest

Many Atlanta residents are not familiar with The Wren’s Nest, but many people are familiar with the Brer Rabbit stories. The Wren’s Nest was home to the author of the Brer Rabbit stories, Joel Chandler Harris, and it’s now the oldest house museum in Atlanta. Along with tours and special events, The Wren’s Nest also offers a summer publishing program for high school students – the final project for the students is to publish a literary journal. Gas South has teamed up with the nonprofit to help raise awareness about the program and to help fund the journal. We recently spoke with Sue Gilman, executive director of The Wren’s Nest, about the 2015 Optimist Review high school publishing program.

What is your organization’s mission?

The Wren’s Nest serves as an educational resource for the community, the greater Atlanta area and visitors from around the globe by preserving the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris and the heritage of African American folklore through storytelling, tours and student publishing.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight?

Our Optimist Review high school publishing program has produced a literary journal for the past eight summers. This summer we have eight editors in the program who come to the Wren’s Nest twice a week to learn about the publishing industry from professional writers, designers and editors. The students are also exposed to businesses, careers and behind-the-scene tours at local organizations such as CNN, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Creative Loafing.


This summer students are from Woodward Academy, Wesleyan School, DeKalb School of the Arts, Decatur High School, Dunwoody High School, Carver Early College, Georgia Cyber Academy and Riverwood International Charter School. The editors have already determined the title of the journal, Even After This Brief Eternity, which will focus on human rights and social justice issues. In order to be published in the journal, high school students from around Metro Atlanta submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art pieces. The final product is edited and curated by our student editors and then released at the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend. Participation in the program is free, but very competitive, for editors and contributors.

Why is your mission important?

Students who have been editors in this program have gone on to pursue English, journalism and creative writing degrees at Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Brown, Harvard, Kenyon and Wake Forest. A handful of our first year editors recently graduated from Emory and the University of Georgia and now work in the Atlanta area.

Kalin Thomas, program director added, “It’s a joy to work with such intelligent and creative young students. They all have excellent writing and leadership experience, from editing their school journal to writing for the yearbook. When I sit and listen to them brainstorm and debate the issues of today, it gives me confidence that our future is in good hands.”

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

Gas South’s financial support allowed the Wren’s Nest to extend the program for another summer. The sponsorship covered the cost of printing the journal and helped us to recruit and secure a great team of student editors, from a variety of high schools, to run the project.


4:57 pm

Finding the Suite Spot: Building Relationships with Corporate Partners

Finding the Suite Spot is a three part blog series, written specifically for members of the nonprofit community. In this series, I will tackle researching and defining the right corporate partner for your organization, customizing sponsorship opportunities and building a strategic relationship (short or long term).

Relationship building, whether internal or external, opens doors and is often the key to getting things done. Let’s face it, projects, sales, ideas or potential business transactions are often conceived on a golf course!  The soft skill of relationship building is crucial and can be a game changer for your organization.

Part 1 of this blog series will focus on Finding the Right Fit. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “How can we get our foot in the door?” Gone are the days when corporations freely disperse sponsorship dollars to organizations just because they always have. Donor dollars are becoming a rare commodity for some which is causing agencies to be proactive, creative and transparent. There may still be some standing relationships you have salvaged over the years, but with employment turnover in the corporate and nonprofit sectors, many organizations may have to recreate relationships.

To find the right fit for your agency:

  • Research First! Do your homework before you approach a potential corporate partner.

Poll your board members, make them aware of the relationships you want to pursue and determine if any members have contacts or serve on other boards with employees of the targeted corporation.
Review websites to research what initiatives are supported. Do the initiatives align with what your organization has to offer? If not, then this may not be a good fit.

  • Get to Know Your Donor

Once you have decided to pursue the relationship and you have the correct contact person, schedule a meeting.  Face time allows you to develop a better feel for the organization, the culture and the giving habits. It also allows the corporation to see who you are and understand your needs − this is important as you should be pursuing a long term commitment. Be transparent about your goals, needs and purpose for reaching out. Leave materials with them and be diligent about following up.

  • Understanding Engagement Opportunities

A growing trend from corporations is to request volunteer opportunities − a volunteer “experience” or a team building opportunity. When meeting with companies, be prepared to discuss this. Are you staffed appropriately to host a group? What size group can you host? Is your staff open to this opportunity? Be open and honest about what you can or cannot do.

  • Financial Cycle of a Company

When is the financial cycle of the company? When is your financial cycle? More importantly, when are budgets set? Does the company have giving limits? Do not ask for more than companies give and present options at different financial levels.  Consider volunteer opportunities if you are able to do so.

  • Ask questions

Find out as much as possible up front. What is the corporation looking for in the relationship? What are you looking to gain from the relationship?

I hope this information has been useful. Please check back for the next part of the series where I will address sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

10:37 am

Community Partner Spotlight – The Silverton Foundation

Gas South and The Silverton Foundation have recently partnered to help families in need due to large, unexpected costs. We spoke with Josh Moffitt, president and founder of The Silverton Foundation, to learn more about The Foundation and how the partnership is making a difference in the community.

What is your organization’s mission?  

When your child has a severe medical condition or illness, priorities shift in order to do whatever it takes to care for your child. Whether it’s hospital visits, long-term hospitalization or ongoing medical life-saving treatment, those costs can add up quickly and many people struggle to handle them. The Silverton Foundation was established to lessen the things families have to worry about during difficult times. The Foundation provides mortgage, rent or short-term housing payments to families with chronically ill children. We help families maintain their homes and reduce financial and emotional burdens, allowing parents to focus on getting their child better so they can return home.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

Families lose their homes for many reasons, but the two biggest reasons are because of a loss of job or health issues. In our families’ cases, the situation is even more compounded because it involves the health of their child, and in many cases, we see at least one parent lose their job to care for the child.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

We have recently issued a challenge for people to moonwalk across their next finish line! At the end of any road race, graduation, you name it, we want you to take a photo or video of the moonwalk and post it to social media using the #MoonwalkYourFinish hashtag. For every post, our sponsors will make a donation to The Foundation. This is just another fun way for us to raise awareness for our cause!

Our partnership with Gas South has also raised awareness about our program. When you sign up with Gas South, you receive a 2 cent per therm discount and Gas South will also donate $50 a year to our foundation – simple and easy! Click here to watch the video on Facebook to learn more.

How has Gas South’s partnership benefited your organization?

Gas South has been a great partner in getting this initiative off the ground. It’s not only an amazing opportunity to raise awareness, but it has also provided a sustainable funding avenue for our organization – and in turn, our clients save money!

What have Gas South employees done to help? 

Everyone has been very helpful with their time, energy and ideas. Even though we are a new (only three years old) and small organization, Gas South has jumped in and treated us as if we are a national brand.

3:21 pm

Employee Spotlight: Father’s Day Feature

Did you know the first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1914 but it wasn’t until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

To honor fathers that work at Gas South, we spoke with a few to find out more about how they celebrate the holiday and what it means to be a dad.

  • Kamden Robb, Senior Account Manager, BAGM – Christian (4)
  • Greg Dunavant, Director of Customer Care – James and Woods (1.5)
  • Gary Jensen, Director of IT & PMO – Smith (6) and Collier (4)
  • Derek Outlaw, Customer Care Coach – Diquinne (20), Alexis (19), Dorian (15) and Danika (10)
  • Dion Jones, Customer Service Representative – Azaleya Yvette (8 months)

How has your own dad helped shape how you raise your child/children?

“My dad had a blue collar job and worked long hours for many years to support our family. Because he never got a college degree, he instilled in us the need to push beyond social and financial boundaries to achieve our goals. We may not have had everything when we were growing up but I always felt loved.” – Kamden Robb

“My dad has always been supportive and is an excellent role model for my family.” – Greg Dunavant

“My dad always made an effort to be at all my sporting events and school activities which is something I’ll really try to do with my kids. It’s not always easy so it makes me appreciate his engagement in my life.” – Gary Jensen

“My father was in the Air Force so I received a lot of structure and, as a child, I was also taught responsibility very young. When my father was deployed, it was my job to maintain the lawn and make sure it passed inspection. On military housing if you fail three inspections in one year, the entire family has to move out. From this experience, I’ve placed similar responsibilities on my children. None of those would result in the family having to move if not completed but giving a child responsibilities that involve the well-being of the entire family teaches them that they need to look out for their family. It allows them to feel that they have influence or a position in the family. That’s important.” – Derek Outlaw

“My father deserves credit for everything. From the small handyman jobs around the house to changing the brakes on a car, my dad instilled in me all of the morals and values I live by today. He showed me the importance of quality time and how important a father’s presence is in children’s lives and I will do the same for my daughter.” – Dion Jones

What is one of your favorite things about being a dad?

“I love watching the pure joy in my son’s eyes when he gets to experience something new for the first time. I love having a ‘mini-me’ to do things with and pass on life lessons to.” – Kamden Robb

“I love how excited my kids are to see me when I get home from work.” – Gary Jensen

“Being a dad has made me focus on something other than myself. It’s a lot of responsibility but it also comes with great reward. To see one of my children be successful in a task or to see one of them make a long term goal and follow through with it is a moment of pride that can’t be replaced. Being a dad encourages me to be a better person because I know my kids are looking up to me as an example.” – Derek Outlaw

“My favorite part is the unconditional love your child shows you, and knowing that their life and well-being is determined by your success or failure. It keeps me focused and fuels my fire to become the greatest man I can be.” – Dion Jones

Does your family do anything special for you or for your dad on Father’s Day?

“Typically we spend Father’s Day doing something outside as a family. We like to ride our bikes on the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail. I have a tandem bike that allows my son to sit behind me while I do all the work!” – Kamden Robb

“My family usually gives me the day off. I get to sleep late and they’ll give me a few presents. Since we have a new grill, my oldest daughter will flex her grilling skills! I spend a lot of time on the grill in the spring and summer, and the kids are used to me grilling so it’s great to watch them take what they’ve seen and put it into practice.” – Derek Outlaw

“We take the day to enjoy our time together, talk about funny stories from the past, barbeque and maybe watch Rambo! I always have to watch a manly movie that day!” – Dion Jones

2:58 pm

Memorial Day

Many people know that Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States and is a day of remembrance for those who have been killed while serving in the country’s armed forces. What many people don’t know is that Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day. The day originated after the Civil War to commemorate Union and Confederate soldiers who died. In the 20th century, the day was extended to honor all Americans who were killed while in the military service.

During this time of honor and remembrance we would like to take the opportunity to thank Gas South employees who served our country:

Air Force
Sandra K. (Mills) Hamilton, Customer Service Representative

LaTitia “Tish” Winbush, Customer Service Representative
Rhonda Garrett, Customer Service Representative
Tiara Allen, Customer Service Representative
Stephon White, Accountant

Juawana (Croswell) Glass, Executive Assistant and Human Resources Coordinator
Michael Clark Guice, Customer Service Representative

On Memorial Day Weekend, many people visit cemeteries and memorials to honor the fallen, and there’s no shortage of events and ceremonies to attend in the Atlanta area.

11:46 am

Employee Spotlight: Mother’s Day Feature


To honor Gas South moms, we spoke with a few mothers on our staff to learn more about their Mother’s Day plans and what it means to be a mom.

  • Tiara Allen, Customer Care Representative – daughter Cayla Surai
  • Sheirra Granville, Customer Care Representative – son Alijah Sherrod (13)
  • LaNise Jones, Operations Specialist – son Jordan (6 months)
  • Stephanie Perrone, Senior Marketing Coordinator – daughters Karina (3) and Milania (1)
  • Kimberly Rollins, Customer Care Coach – daughter Jessica (17), and sons Justus (14) and Jacobi (10)

Does your family do anything special for you or for your mom on Mother’s Day?

“Every mother in my family gets together and we cook all the favorite dishes of all the moms in the family.” – Tiara Allen

“Normally I plan Mother’s Day for my mother and mother-in-law and the whole family goes along with what I plan. Since this will be my first Mother’s Day, I have no clue how it will be spent – I have been told it’s all a surprise!” – LaNise Jones

“We have a tradition of having family dinner and spending the day together. My mother lives with me, so my kids and I make sure she is treated special by showering her with gifts and taking her to brunch or dinner. Mother’s Day is a special day for my family because I’m a single mother and my mother has been my backbone! She runs the house and I make sure the needs of the family are met. She is truly a jewel and I’m thankful for all she is in my family’s life.” – Kimberly Rollins

What is one of your favorite things about being a mom?

“The warm hugs, sloppy kisses and bright smiles.” – LaNise Jones

“Watching my daughters’ personalities grow and change on a daily basis. It’s especially fun to witness mine and my husband’s characteristics and quirks emerge in their personalities – both girls love shoes as much as I do!” – Stephanie Perrone

“I love the laughter of my children. They bring me joy daily. Just to see them engaged, healthy and productive means the world to me. They’re truly my gifts and they make me proud in their studies, behaviors and character.” – Kimberly Rollins

How has your own mom helped shape how you raise your child/children?

“My mom has always been very supportive of everything I’ve been involved in. She tells me often how proud she is of the woman and mother I have become.” – Sheirra Granville

What does it mean to be a mom?

“Being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. I never knew how one small person could give me so much motivation and the unnerving desire to be the best that I can be. I appreciate life and family so much more! I respect my mom and dad for all of the sacrifices that they made for me and it reassures me that I can do the same for my child. Being a mom is awesome and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” – Tiara Allen

“Being a mom is the best feeling in the world. I strive to be the best mom I can be for my son every day. I enjoy the time we spend together and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be a mom. I don’t take the time we spend together for granted and I’ve learned over the years to cherish every moment. Everything I do is to help ensure a better lifestyle for my son and I. He’s my pride and joy and I love him with everything inside of me. It gives me so much joy to hear my son say. ‘My mom is my role model.’ It reassures me that I’m doing something right.” – Sheirra Granville

“Mother’s Day is very special to mothers and my hope is that every mother is appreciated every day, but especially on Mother’s Day. I’m thankful for having an employer that embraces mothers and all the activities we have to do in our roles. It’s truly a blessing to be called ‘mother.’” – Kimberly Rollins

11:50 am

Bringing the Heat is what we do best!

For the fifth straight year, Gas South’s Bring the Heat™ campaign will donate $25 to a local nonprofit organization each time a Braves pitcher records a strikeout! This year in recognition of the 125th anniversary of the Salvation Army’s “Doing the most good,” we’re donating the money to The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta. By partnering with the Braves for Bring the Heat™, we’re able to fulfill our commitment to giving back to the communities we serve.

Gas South is the Official Natural Gas Provider and Proud Sponsor of the Atlanta Braves and since 2010, the company has contributed more than $235,500 to Georgia nonprofits through Bring the Heat™ − another great reason to cheer when the Braves strikeout the competition.

As you enjoy your hot dog and Cracker Jack’s at Turner Field this season, don’t miss the fireworks from Gas South’s sign in right field signifying another strikeout and another $25 donated to help support the great work the Salvation Army is doing in our community.

Go Braves!

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