Oct
7

Hands on Atlanta Day 2016

We spoke to Brenda Turner, residential channel coordinator, to learn more about Hands on Atlanta Day and what it means to her to volunteer in the communities where we live, work and play.

By: Brenda Turner

One of my favorite things about being a Gas South employee is the company’s dedication to giving back to the community. We participate in many local service programs year-round, and most recently, I had the opportunity to lead Hands On Day Atlanta Day 2016 – the largest and most prestigious corporate volunteer day of service in Atlanta.

Approximately 50 Gas South employees volunteered a total of 200 hours at Camp Timber Ridge in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. We helped spruce up the campground – chopping wood, clearing roadways, putting up new tents and painting pavilions.

Though it may be what they’re best known for, the Girl Scouts do a lot more than sell delicious cookies – just like Gas South does more than market natural gas! But don’t take my word for it. Check out this short video about our experience volunteering with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for Hands on Atlanta Day.

Oct
4

Gas South ‘Brings the Heat’ to Final Season at Turner Field

The final season at Turner Field was one to remember for the Atlanta Braves, The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta.

For the sixth year, Gas South’s Bring the Heat™ campaign raised money for local nonprofits. Each time a Braves pitcher struck out an opponent, Gas South committed to donating $50.

This year, we knocked the donations out the park! Braves pitchers threw a total of 1,227 strikeouts, resulting in $61,350 raised for The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta.

With Gas South’s support, United Way of Greater Atlanta is able to help combat homelessness and hunger in greater Atlanta, as well as provide care for expecting mothers. The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta will use the funds to continue to provide meals, shelter and energy assistance to hundreds of thousands of residents in need.

President and CEO Kevin Greiner presented the donation checks to Dennis Long of United Way and Atlanta Area Commander Major Todd Hawks of The Salvation Army at the Atlanta Braves game on September 13. Greiner and Hawks also participated in the Turner Field Countdown.

During the Braves’ final farewell at Turner Field this past Sunday, a sold-out crowd watched the team defeat the Detroit Tigers and then it was time to say their goodbyes. In April 2017, we’ll say hello to SunTrust Park as the official natural gas provider for the Atlanta Braves, and we’re looking forward to another successful season!

Through our partnership with the Atlanta Braves, Gas South has been bringing the heat and spreading the warmth across Atlanta. Since Bring the Heat’s inception in 2010, we’ve contributed nearly $350,000 to local nonprofits stepping up to the plate to serve our communities.

Aug
31

Providing a Living Wage for Gas South’s Employees

There are certain moments as a business leader when you can pause and feel really proud about the work your company is doing. For me, yesterday was one of those days as we announced Gas South’s commitment to providing a living wage for all employees.

Beginning September 1, all hourly Gas South employees will earn a minimum wage of $15 per hour, which is more than double the federal rate. The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported on the story, and the positive news has echoed throughout the local media landscape. We appreciate the support and how this announcement has spread through our community.

The decision to increase the minimum wage for hourly employees at Gas South was a simple one. It’s our goal to always provide an exceptional customer experience. To do that, we must be a top place to work with a motivating environment for our employees.

Our leadership team understands that exceptional service is made possible only by the hard work and commitment of our employees – the people who live out our commitment to customer service with the utmost efficiency and integrity. They deserve fair, competitive compensation for their work, and excellent pay along with benefits like health care, paid time off, and retirement contributions are all part of what makes Gas South a great place to work.

To sum, our wage increase boils down neatly to this:

  • Approximately 25 percent of the company’s overall workforce will see an increase in pay, specifically employees working in our customer care department.
  • The average wage increase among those affected is four percent with a maximum increase of 8.3 percent.

I’d also like to note to customers that this change will benefit them as well. Our rates will be just as competitive as they have always been, and we’ll continue to provide unparalleled value to our customers. In fact, we believe that even as we raise our hourly pay, our costs of doing business will go down. That’s because a $15 minimum wage will allow us to attract and retain the very best customer care employees, providing them with greater financial security and ultimately enhancing productivity. Therefore, we see a $15 minimum wage for our team members as a win for the company, our employees and our customers.

At the end of the day, each business has to make decisions based on what is right and what is possible within its own scope. Our decision to commit to a $15 minimum wage for our employees is not a political statement; it’s a Gas South statement. At Gas South, ensuring that each member of our team earns a living wage is a priority and it’s something that makes good business sense for our company.

Aug
2

1,215 Lunches Packed for Smart Lunch, Smart Kid

During the summer, many children go without a nutritious lunch that’s normally provided at school. Can you imagine? Feeling the excitement of summer, but not knowing if you’re going to eat that day? Or, if you’re a parent, you may have to leave your kids at home to go to work and you don’t know if they will eat that day. It’s something that no child or parent should have to worry about.

On July 20th, employees took a break from their normal routine to pack 1,215 lunches for Atlanta students who receive free or reduced lunch during the school year. The Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program is powered by Action Ministries and it ensures that these children are fed during the summer and school breaks. Unlike other similar programs, the organization delivers the lunches to the children in their neighborhoods which removes the possible issue of lack of access to transportation.

For the past five years, Gas South has packed lunches for this standout program and it’s always a great time!

The lunches were delivered to children who live in apartments in the Cascade Corridor, as well as apartments near Greater Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. The lunches included a PB&J sandwich, chips, water, fruit snacks and fruit cups.

Dec
30

Gas South and The Salvation Army team up to make a Difference this Holiday Season

Gas South continues to give back to the communities where we live and work throughout the year, and this holiday season has been no different. This year we have taken part in many initiatives but most recently we have been focusing our efforts on assisting the Salvation Army with their Angel Tree and Kettle Bell programs.

Salvation Army Angel Tree

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program helps provide Christmas gifts to more than 12,000 children every year. The program also provides support for “Silver Bells” who are senior adults living at or below the federal index poverty level. This year, Gas South hosted an Angel Tree with 50 Angels to be “adopted.” Employees participated by choosing Angels from the tree and picking out gifts for needy families.

Gifts purchased for each Angel are given through The Salvation Army to seniors and parents who can then experience the pride of providing gifts for their children and the treasure of sharing in their excitement. Thank you to all employees who participated to make a difference in someone’s Christmas this year!
DSC_0139-680x1024DSC_0226-1024x789 Salvation Army Kettle Bell Ringing

This year, Gas South employees had the opportunity to ring the red kettle bells for the Salvation Army at Cumberland Mall. Employees were asked to volunteer for two hour shifts during the week of December 14th.

Gas South sponsored the Red Kettles at Cumberland Mall from December 14th to the 19th and all donations to those kettles were matched by Gas South up to $1,250.
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Nov
23

Gobble Jog 2015

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The 13th annual Marietta Daily Journal Gobble Jog is at Marietta Square this week, and Gas South is honored to be a sponsor of the event that benefits MUST Ministries. For many families, attending the Gobble Jog has become a Thanksgiving morning tradition before spending the day eating lots of turkey. What better way to start a day of giving thanks than spending it raising money for MUST Ministries – an organization that served 31,000 men, women and children last year.

In 2003, the Gobble Jog had 1,400 runners who raised $29,000. Now, more than 8,000 runners and walkers participate and yearly proceeds exceed $500,000.

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The Gobble Jog offers a 10K, 5K, 1K and Tot Trot. To view the course map click here: http://www.mustministries.org/file/events/Pages-1-14-from-Gobble-Job_2015-2.pdf

Are you going to be out of town or too busy cooking on Thanksgiving morning? You can still register for the Gobble Jog by signing up as a Phantom Runner and you will receive the race t-shirt. You can also donate to one of your fellow runners using their online fundraising page.

For more information about the event click here: http://www.gobblejog.org/faf/help/helpEventInfo.asp?ievent=1140124&lis=1&kntae1140124=DC918D83BA1E45B5B20B4E845E609723. Online registration closed on November 22nd, but you can register on-site the morning of the event.

MUST Ministries is dedicated to providing services to feed, clothe and assist people in need. The organization offers a range of services including emergency shelter, transitional housing, meals, groceries, clothing, job readiness, job placement and more. MUST has been serving people in need for more than 40 years and has locations in Cobb, Cherokee and numerous additional counties.

If you’re interested in donating to MUST Ministries and their great cause to address the basic needs of individuals, families and children, click here to make a donation: http://www.gobblejog.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?supId=0&ievent=1140124&lis=1&kntae1140124=DC918D83BA1E45B5B20B4E845E609723&team.

Oct
12

K’s Lead to Donations for The Salvation Army

Even though the Braves finished the season with a 67-95 record, fans still saw a lot of fireworks after every strikeout by a Braves pitcher.

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 For the fifth straight year of our Bring the Heat™ campaign, Gas South pledged to donate $25 to The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta every time an Atlanta Braves pitcher threw a strikeout this season.

From opening day up until the last game on October 4th, the Braves pitchers threw 1,115 strikeouts! That’s $27,875! But we didn’t stop there. To raise additional funds and awareness about Bring the Heat, Gas South ran a Twitter campaign during the Yankees series and asked fans to tweet using #BringTheHeat2015. The campaign raised an additional $5,000, thanks to your tweets, which brings Gas South’s total donation to the Salvation Army to $32,875.

DSC_0052-300x199DSC_0057-284x300DSC_0062-300x199Meredith Hodges, Gas South vice president, presented Major Todd Hawks of the Salvation Army with the check. The donation will support the 125th anniversary of The Salvation Army’s Doing the Most Good in Metro Atlanta.

Since 2010, Gas South has contributed more than $267,000 to Georgia nonprofits through Bring the Heat and we’re looking forward to another successful season next year!

Oct
1

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?

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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.

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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.

Jul
31

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.

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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.

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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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Jul
16

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).

pic16903-300x165Relationship 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.