Earlier today, we met Ed Reggi, and this afternoon, we'd like to tell you all about Travis Sheridan (@TravisSheridan) who will also be speaking on February 6th at our #STLSocialGood half-day conference. Travis spends his days working with startups as assistance vice president of innovation & entrepreneurship at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. He has used social media to foster and deepen his St. Louis relationships & will share his content and engagement strategy, which he called the "Messaging Placement," a simplified tactic to ensure effective outreach with limited time and resources.
1. What is your experience working for non-profits / community organizations?
I’ve spent the past decade working for/with community benefit organizations. I was an early board member and president of Creative Fresno – an organization tasked with engaging the creative community and using the arts as a way to revitalize the urban core. This was a 100% volunteer organization and yet we maximized talent in the community to make a major impact. Since I have to eat and have an affinity for good bourbon, I can’t volunteer my life away.
Vocationally, I’ve worked in the startup space running various aspects of business incubators – all of which have been community benefit organizations. Working with, and leveraging, limited resources has always been a key part of my career. It was natural for me to work with startups and help them find ways to move the needle in the most efficient way possible.
Finally, I also have one or two consulting gigs per years where I help nonprofits in the areas of mission development, leadership training, branding, and communication. Each time I work with a group, I tend to fall in love with their mission. This is true regardless of whether they actually implement my suggestions or not. I teach and consult to share knowledge. I create system of efficiency to improve organizational effectiveness. I end up falling in love with the organization because of their ability to make a noticeable difference.
2. How have you seen social media and the digital/mobile world affect efforts in fundraising or social good?
I have seen both positive and negative results. I’ll stick with the positives. Those that use social media to keep the story in front of the target market without always asking for a donation, get an A+ in my book. It is easier to reach out these days and some organizations have become digital panhandlers. It isn’t necessary to beg. We live in a world plagued by negative news stories. Social media allows for individualized journalism and greater editorial control than ever before. The organizations that have learned how to tell their story, demonstrate their impact, and communicate their value are the ones that can leverage a digital/mobile community to engage (in a number of ways).
Recently, I’ve tried to move away from the term “nonprofit organization” and toward the term “community benefit organization.” Want to raise funds? Demonstrate the way the organization benefits the community. Want to live up to a claim of social good? Demonstrate the way the organization benefits the community. Digital/mobile allows for those stories to be told. I don't care about how you file your taxes. Prove that you are worthy of investment and can provide a return on the investment. "Return" can mean different things to different people.
Finally, assuming the organization is worthy of support, digital/mobile makes it hella easy (“hella” is still a great word). Mirco-support, immediacy, and peer-pressure can be combined in the digital/mobile world to not only provide financial resources, but a treasure trove of useful data.
3. What's your favorite Saint Louis - based "social good" organization?
I am selfish because I live in the neighborhood, but I’d say the Old North Restoration Group. They have played a key role in the revitalization of a wonderful neighborhood. Their social good is evidenced brick-by-brick and person-by-person. They are building an engaged, active and involved community.
4. What's your favorite past-time/hobby?
Drinking with purpose. I created an event called Boozestorming that has the clever tag line of “Drinking outside the box.” Essentially, I bring together smart people, we pick a couple of topics to discuss or problems to solve, I provide them with booze, and I facilitate a meaningful discussion by talking about what is known about the topic or what myths exist. Next we explore things to try that might improve the situation. Then we are able to collectively define what the new reality might consist of. Lastly, I take inventory of what people were drinking, just in case I need to replicate the scenario in the future. All I ask is that people think and drink responsibly.
My wife and I also love exploring cemeteries and plastering Instagram with images that only St. Louis can provide. Oh, and I have a killer Pez collection.