Junior League of Pelham Social 360 Roundtable Fosters Collaboration

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31 October 2011

On Wednesday, October 26th, The Junior League of Pelham gathered approximately 40 community leaders at the Pelham Art Center to discuss how community non-profit organizations can foster engagement—through face-to-face interaction, word of mouth, digital outreach, and especially collaboration—to succeed. Lynn Honeysett, Executive Director of the Pelham Art Center, explained that while organizations may have a tendency to be self-protective during challenging economic periods, “It’s exactly at this time you want to lay out plans for growth, and the best way to do that is through collaboration.”

Why collaborate? First, it allows organizations to diminish hard costs while expanding their reach, broadening their demographics and fostering good feelings, Honeysett explained. “Building positive impressions is the cornerstone of any brand,” she said. She cited two recent examples of collaboration in the area: the New Rochelle Arts Fest (a gallery tour by trolley that spurred restaurants to fill and businesses to prosper) and the synergy between the Pelham Picture House and Bistro Rollin, which showed the Brazilian movie Black Orpheus and offered a Brazilian menu on the same night to offer Pelhamites a cultural immersion.

Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor of Real Simple, emphasized that one key to a successful partnership is recognizing the needs of your clients—whether they are community members or magazine readers—and meeting them. “It’s about giving her what she wants,” Ogtrop said. The success of a partnership also depends on each group’s ability to surrender some control, she says. Van Ogtrop cited Real Simple’s collaboration with Crate & Barrel, Mead and Yahoo as examples of successful collaborations. Van Ogtrop encouraged participants to “Consider who you would like to partner with to achieve likeminded goals.”

Past JLP President and new PACT director Virginia Hartmere said that collaboration is key to her organization’s work as well. “As a community coalition, we try to involve everyone in this community in our mission,” she says. PACT created a Social Marketing Manager position, now filled by Christine Spana, to impassion Pelhamites to become aware of, engaged by, and moved to action by PACT.

JLP President Daragh Murphy said, “In keeping with the 360 theme, the league goals for this year are to develop best practices by incorporating the BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability into its day-to-day running of the league, including its strategic long term endeavor to development women as civic and community leaders.”

Community Outreach VP Aisling Bier reminded the community partners about JLP’s grant program, which provides funding to community programs and projects in Pelham and surrounding communities that address the JLP’s focus areas of healthy families, education and downtown Pelham improvement.

Event co-chair Zoe Henriquez underscored that this event was only a first handshake, and that participants should continue the conversation by joining the Facebook “Pelham Community Roundtable” group, which provides communication and outreach between non-profit community organizations in and around Pelham. The ultimate goal is for community leaders to continue the conversation off-line as well. “When we think of ‘social,’ the first thing that comes to mind is social media, but it’s social interaction,” Henriquez said. Mary Beth Fisher, event co-chair and last year’s JLP President, encouraged more meet-ups by telling the crowd that, “This event doesn’t have to happen only once a year.”

The JLP thanks all of the groups that participated, and particularly Lynn Honeysett and the staff of the Pelham Art Center, for their hospitality.

The Junior League of Pelham is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. Visitwww.jlpelham.org for more information.