Even though the appetizers were divine, I’ll stray from the food topic for this post. Earlier this week I was able to participate in a fantastic community event called Fast Pitch.
Fast Pitch is an evening of venture philanthropy combining entrepreneurial spirit with a desire to do good and investors who are interested in furthering good causes.
In an effort to support social entrepreneurs who are tackling some of our community’s most difficult issues, and to further the creative, vibrant culture in our area, Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ), produce this annual social innovation.
A prestigious group of 20 local philanthropies are selected from an exponentially larger pool of applicants. Those companies receive 7 weeks training, feedback and mentoring on how to create and tell their stories – a skill that will live beyond any outcome of the Fast Pitch program. They’re also paired with 2 mentors – sharp business leaders and marketing experts who coach them to their best performance. Their task is to create a compelling 3 minute elevator pitch about their cause and an ask for support. At the end of 7 weeks, the class is reduced to 8 finalists who move forward and compete at the big Fast Pitch event.
With 8 contestants remaining and a 3 minute limit, an electrifying 24 minute competition takes place. Yes, with an audience of 500, it reeks a bit of American Idol but this show produces lasting goose bumps and there’s no Simon Cowell of critical remarks. At the end of each 3-minute presentation, two judges make affirmative remarks and ask probing questions. I had the great fortune to be one of those judges.
All 8 finalists received valuable visibility for their causes. They also built strong cross-sector relationships with the other contestants that will be the basis for support and friendship in the future. Four of the presenters left with handsome cash prizes in one of four categories; the Audience award, the Mentor award, the Judges award and finally the Social Venture Partners award. These prizes ranges from $2,500 to a 5-year commitment of close to $100,000 and every penny was donated by community members anxious to participate in this new fangled method of innovative social leadership.
What surprised me even more were the philanthropic agents in the crowd who offered additional funding to some of these participants on behalf of their clients. There were other foundations and community groups who asked for follow-up meetings. Finally, I must mention that several local businesses underwrote the cost of the event and SVP was able to charge a premium price for seats furthering the sustainability of this model. The energy and the good vibe was visible – I won’t miss it next year!
Congratulations to the 2013 Fast Pitch Finalists!
- Arizona Curriculum Theater, Inc.
- AZ Common Ground
- Stand For Children Leadership Center
- The Welcome to America Project
- Tiger Mountain Foundation
- Treasures 4 Teachers