Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Non-Profit Roundtable works to make Oakland more hospitable

By Jerry Metzker, Co-chair, Oakland Chamber Non-Profit Roundtable

Oakland's growing prominence as a destination for visitors from both near and far was the subject of the June 19 Oakland Chamber Non-Profit Roundtable meeting.

Presenters Myra Howay and April Tamaddoni from Visit Oakland shared a number of ways that community benefits organizations and other non-profits can utilize its growing body of resources to promote themselves and strengthen the infrastructure and prominence of Oakland.

The primary role of Visit Oakland is to ensure everyone who comes to Oakland is greeted and welcomed.

"Getting to sell the entire City of Oakland gives me goose bumps," Tamaddoni gushed.

One of the ways that Visit Oakland can help organizations is to act as liaison between them and the various hotels to schedule events and activities. With intimate knowledge and strong relationships with the hospitality businesses in the community, Visit Oakland is able to design a proposal process and review the results to help organizations make the best choice for their needs and budget.

"Our goal is to bring more business to Oakland," Howay noted.

Visit Oakland is also able and willing to create customized visitor's guides and packages for any number of out-of-town guests. Those in attendance received a sample package that included a variety of information and some terrific postcards of Oakland.

"Oakland has so much to offer," Howay declared, including a popular fine arts and music district, excellent cuisine from a variety of countries and cultures, professional sports teams, hiking and Lake Merritt-the oldest animal sanctuary in the country.

Visit Oakland also wants to hear from the members of the community, and the city's guests. Posting stories and experiences on its Facebook page is a fantastic way to spread the word.

One of Oakland's primary hosts is Children's Fairyland, located in Lakeside Park on the northwest corner of Lake Merritt. Executive Director C.J. Hirschfield shared with the Roundtable several of Fairyland's great accomplishments as well as improvements and new opportunities.

Children's Fairyland has the only children's performing arts theater in this region, and the longest-running puppet theater in the U.S.A.

Although a non-profit, 82% of the operating and program income is earned from ticket sales and special events. These events include weddings and adult nights. (The next adult night will be held on July 20, 2012.) Fairyland is also developing mutually beneficial partnerships with other Oakland-based businesses, such as Oaklandish and The Crucible (which is also a non-profit).

"We are in the memory-making business," declared Hirschfield, "and we love it!"

Children's Fairyland continues to explore ways to engage children and their families, not simply in the fun and the arts, but also by developing resources and partnerships to improve health and increase literacy.

"We are continuing to up our game," Hirschfield concluded, inviting Fairyland's non-profit colleagues to propose collaborations.

In addition to the conversation on hospitality, a new business in Oakland extended an opportunity to non-profit Chamber members. Dugaduga.com is a unique new social networking site designed to connect individuals with similar interests to participate in activities together, such as mountain biking or knitting. The site enables individuals to connect online and then pursue their interest or activity together.

Dugaduga.com founder Jessie Ivey declared that for-profit corporations need to recognize that they have a responsibility to the communities in which they do business. As part of its giving back to the community, the Internet company is offering 10% it's advertising to nonprofits that do not discriminate. For more information, contact them at Staylon@dugaduga.com.

Please mark your calendar. The next Non-Profit Roundtable committee meeting will be held on July 17, 2012 from 2:30-4:30 pm in the Oakland Chamber board room. The conversation subject will be Transportation, and we are lining up several guest speakers.

Oakland Chamber Non-Profit Roundtable

Co-Chair Ana-Marie Jones, Executive Director, Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD)

Co-Chair Jerry Metzker, Development & Marketing Manager, Biotech Partners

Chamber Liaison Triche Christmon, Membership Director

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