Posts for the Category ‘Gas South Cares’

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.

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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.


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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.

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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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9:42 am

Community Partner Spotlight – MUST Ministries

Gas South is committed to supporting the communities we serve through our Gas South Cares program. Through this program, we partner with some of the most effective nonprofit organizations in the state. Gas South would like to feature one of our most enriching partnerships, one that we are proud to work with all year long.

MUST Ministries is a volunteer-driven organization providing a range of services to needy people, from food and clothing to job training. We recently spoke with Don Crampton of MUST Ministries to learn more about the organization.

What is your organization’s mission?   

Serving our neighbors in need; transforming lives and communities in response to the call of Christ.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

MUST Ministries serves close to 34,000 people in eight north Georgia counties. We’re the largest safety net for the poorest, most desperate residents in this region. MUST helps them meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, and clothing, while also providing longer-term resources, like counseling and training needed for employment.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

The MUST’s Summer Lunch program serves approximately 5,000 children per day in eight counties. In 2014, 254,000 sack lunches reached hungry children in our 19th year of meeting this tremendous need. Thousands of volunteers made sandwiches, packed lunches, checked sacks, drove lunches to sites, contributed supplies, donated money and partnered in a host of ways to be sure children would not go hungry. [If you’re interested in donating your time to the Summer Lunch program, check out this site.]

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

We are extremely honored to have the support of Gas South for the past five years. Their desire to serve is demonstrated by their actions. Gas South has helped MUST Ministries in all areas, through volunteerism as well as corporate contributions. In particular, Gas South is a sponsor of our two largest fundraising events, the Safe Refuge Gala and the Annual Thanksgiving Day Gobble Jog. Gas South is also a major supporter of our Summer Lunch program and is the lead sponsor for our Step Up Your Game: Getting People Back to Work seminar.

What have Gas South employees done to help MUST Ministries?

Several Gas South employees have volunteered over the years to serve at MUST Ministries. More specifically, Gas South has been one of the lead participants in our employment education area, offering assistance in helping our clients to enhance resume writing skills and prepare for job interviews.

Gas South has worked with MUST Ministries for over five years, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, click here.

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12:56 pm

Children with special needs get a night out at the Circus

For the fifth year in a row, Gas South teamed up with the Georgia Municipal Association, Metro Atlanta Mayors’ Association and Feld Entertainment to treat more than 130 children with special needs to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Magical Journey at Gwinnett Center. Local mayors worked with schools and agencies across the metro area to invite the children and their families to this unique experience. The children were able to have a great night with their families and interact with the circus performance on the arena floor. A great time was had by all!

This was Gas South’s fifth consecutive year sponsoring this fantastic event. Unfortunately, the second show, scheduled for Thursday, the 12th was cancelled due to the weather. But the show will go on next year! A big thanks to our partners for making this possible.

To read more about the circus event, click here or watch our YouTube video here.

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1:39 pm

Project SHARE and Gas South help Georgians keep the heat on

For most metro Atlanta residents, staying warm this winter is as easy as turning up the thermostat. But for low-income families struggling to make ends meet, it’s not so simple. For them, even the smallest financial crisis is enough to make bill payment impossible.

Fortunately, Project SHARE offers another option to help keep families warm this winter. Salvation Army’s Project SHARE provides emergency bill-payment assistance to families facing a temporary crisis.

For the second year, Gas South will partner with the Salvation Army to offer our customers a chance to donate to Project SHARE. Gas South will match customer contributions up to $10 per month. Contributions will be used to help families in need keep their heat on this winter as well as acquire necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies. Donations assist residents in all counties in Georgia, and the money collected through the program stays in the county from which it originates. Your donation will help your own neighbors in need.

Gas South Cares is our year-round commitment to giving back to the communities we serve. We strive to make a difference in our communities through hands-on volunteer work and corporate giving that focuses on community, culture, education, and service. Project SHARE is a continuation of our commitment. Gas South customers can sign up to donate by visiting And remember, Gas South will match your donation up to $10 per month!

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4:28 pm

Disney on Ice comes to Atlanta

Disney on Ice came to Atlanta and Gas South was excited to partner with Feld Entertainment to provide dozens of local families with special needs children a great night out to enjoy the on-ice extravaganza, featuring all of the favorites like Donald, Mickey and Minnie.

Prior to the show, our guests, who were selected by some of our Alliance partners, were treated to a pizza party and a special meet and greet with the costumed cast. It was the perfect start to a great evening, in which our Disney friends (and villains) skated through sets of winter wonderlands, haunted houses, a royal ball, and a medley of other fairytale scenarios. We hope this special night was a memorable one for the families in attendance and we look forward to next year!

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5:20 pm

Bring the Heat – 2013

The Braves and Gas South present UWGA with $31,000

Velvet Washington with Gas South and Carley Jacobs with the United Way of Greater Atlanta

Few people are called to take to the turf at Turner Field, and those lucky enough are typically Major League Baseball players and officials. There was, however, one notable exception to the rule prior the last regular-season finale between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, Velvet Washington, a Gas South employee.

Velvet was the toast of ‘The Ted’ for a few memorable moments as she presented the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA) with a hefty $31,000 check from Gas South as part of our Bring the Heat campaign with the Braves.

What’s Bring the Heat? Every time a Braves pitcher records a regular season strikeout, Gas South donates $25 to the UWGA. For the record, the Braves’ regular season strikeout total for 2013 was 1232 (note to all you mathematicians, we rounded our donation up by $200 to make an even $31,000).

Since 2008, Bring the Heat has contributed more than $200,000 to local nonprofits as part of Gas South’s Hometown Value promise to advance the communities in which we live, work and serve. While the campaign is officially over for 2013, Gas South is already looking forward to continuing Bring the Heat next year. Go Braves!

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4:15 pm

Disney LIVE! Comes to Savannah

Recently, we had the pleasure of partnering with Savannah’s Head Start program and Feld Entertainment to sponsor more than 400 children and their families for a special performance of Disney LIVE! The kids got free popcorn and pictures with cut-outs of their favorite characters. The event drew a crowd of about 1,600 and we were happy to help create a fun night out for our guests. We hope everyone enjoyed the show!

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos from the event.

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