Leveraging Networks and Technology for Good

In Things to Think About by Mark Sylvester

Leveraging Networks and Technology for Good Business Giving Roundtable

This week the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Santa Barbara County Business Giving Roundtable brought together 50 executives from the business community to have a conversation. The conversation, entitled Leveraging Networks and Technology for Good was held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in one of the galleries. The venue was impressive and inspiring. Being surrounded by stunning masterpieces created over a hundred years ago was fitting for a conversation about social media, connecting to audiences and the role of business in the non-profit sector. Mark Sylvester, Ambassador for 805connect, along with Jordan benShea of SkyView Projects and Jacques Habra of Noospheric (an 805connect partner) sat on a panel moderated by Judy Hawkins of Ruby Road Leadership.

Goals of the event

The main goal was to gain insights from the personal and professional philanthropic journeys of the three entrepreneurial leaders to better understand innovative and effective ways that small businesses engage social media and networks to partner with non-profits and build brands in our region. Additionally, the event served to inspire local small businesses and entrepreneurs on the benefits of initiating and evolving their business giving programs and learning together. The conversation took the audience through what should motivate a business into selecting a non-profit or cause to adopt, the answer is to see how your missions are aligned. The idea that in today’s crowded job market, to appeal to younger employees (digital immigrants), it’s important to have your values,  mission and your position on giving back to the community well stated on your website.
I believe in giving more than you take, it’s an honor to give back. I feel giving back is my duty” – Jordan benShea
Each of the panelists talked about how they are giving back and how that is helping the community. Jacques helps non-profits get going with pro-bono work through one of his companies, FirstClick. Jordan works with non-profits as a strategic marketing consultant helping them understand their audience, the power of story in communication and looking hard at the ‘why’ of each action that’s undertaken to drive engagement. Mark and introNetworks created this site, 805connect, as a part of a larger initiative by the Santa Barbara Foundation to connect the public, private and educational sectors to stimulate conversations and improve economic vitality.

Know your audience

With a marketing focused panel and social media and networks as the main topic, it was clear that strategy and communications would be at the forefront of the conversation. Each one emphasized how important it is to truly understand your target audience, something that gets neglected in social media quite often. Mark talked about defining your audience using Ideal Customer Avatar methods, where you paint a picture of your audience member including name, favorite foods, music, and colors, so that you deeply understand them. This allows you to communicate much more effectively and personally. Jordan and Jacques both reiterated targeting your outreach and focusing on the social channels where your audience is already gathered.
Behind every great business, there are passions and values that drive the team. Connect these to your outreach efforts to the non-profit community.” – Mark Sylvester

Have an engagement strategy

The topic of engagement was hit upon several times and the panelists reiterated that you have to have a strategic social plan. Just posting on Twitter, or having hundreds of Likes or fans on Facebook is not a strategy. How engaged are they with the content and your brand. Especially for non-profits, it’s not enough to be on social, you have to dedicate resources and have a consistent outreach and plan to be a part of the conversation. One suggestion, give the responsibility of social to an intern. They’ll do an amazing job and can get community service credit and great work experience as a result. There were a lot of great questions from the audience including an interesting fact from Jan Campbell, Chief Philanthropic Officer/SVP at the Santa Barbara Foundation. Jan said that there are almost 1000 non-profits in the region and that they represent only 2% of the giving to social causes. the other 98% is from individuals and of that the majority are baby boomers. The Business Giving Roundtable seeks to help boost that percentage of corporate giving by continuing to have these types of conversations. They encourage you to join their organization – contact them at http://sbfoundation.org/bgr.
It’s not who you are, but what you do for others.” – Jacques Habra
Business Giving Roundtable