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Elkie Wills: Ideas for virtual community engagement programs

Guest: Elkie Wills is the senior director of community engagement at San Diego Humane Society, where she has held a number of positions over the past 11 years. She was also community outreach coordinator at Humane Society of Yuma, Arizona.

Main question: What can organizations do to successfully engage their communities virtually? 


  • It’s important to keep in touch with donors and supporters especially when in-person meetings and events are not possible during the pandemic. Virtual communications can fill this gap. 

  • Your organization can reach as many people or more with virtual programs than with in-person ones. 

  • Virtual programs allow flexibility to try a wider range of topics with a wider range of guests. And people can participate in the program from anywhere, increasing your potential audience.

  • Adults can be an important virtual audience, even more than kids.

  • Virtual tours with a limit on attendance can be a great way to make a strong connection with supporters. Supporters can view areas that may otherwise be off limits, such as surgical suites, and they can get up close with animals who might otherwise be shy around crowds.

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Recorded February 11, 2021

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