On March 6th Social Venture Partners is holding its “2nd Annual Fast Pitch Social Innovation Expo.” It’s the culmination of a seven-week training and mentoring program for innovative nonprofits that are effecting social change. Finalists have three minutes to make a “pitch” that could earn their nonprofit $100,000 in funding. SVP Executive Director Terri Wogan talks about the program.
One-third of our youth are obese or overweight. 20% of our kids are come to be school high. The Latino status dropout rate is at 21%. That's where we come in. You're going to hear eight amazing stories tonight. If you had to give your pitch, what would you say? And how would you say it in 180 seconds? This event reflects what social Venture partners is about. We're seeking $65,000. $250,000. $250,000. $120,000. A contribution of $100,000. $150,000. $25 first to invest. You can be part of something from the ground up. Please help us. Partner with us. With your help, we can do it. My name is Chris Linn, and I'm the executive director for popsicle center, which provides help and hope for children who struggle to eat.
Ted Simons: That indeed is Chris Linn, she was the winner of last year's fast pitch event, sponsored by social Venture partners of Arizona. Leaders of various nonprofit were given three minutes to convince potential donors to fund their organizations. It culminated a seven-week program that taught nonprofits how to most effectively get their message across. The second annual greater Phoenix fast pitch social innovation Expo takes place one week from today on Tuesday, March 6th. Here to talk about it is Chris Linn, executive director of the Popsicle Center. And Terri Wogan, executive director of social Venture partners, Arizona. Thank you both for joining us. You were the winnrt last year. This was three minutes, give us your best shot? How did this work?
Chris Linn: Well, we were able to go through a seven-week training session where we had mentors assigned to us, and it was really the goal to hone in on our three-minute pitch, which was phenomenal for our organization. Over the seven weeks we all start out with note cards and as we progressed we went on stage and told our story with conviction.
Ted Simons: Why do you think you won?
Chris Linn: I'll tell you, I do believe that as far as our organization is concerned, Popsicle Center stand for parent organized partnerships supporting infants and children learning to eat, we're very unique. There's not another organization like ours in the valley. And nationwide, actually. So I think our story was unique and since we're a grass-roots organization pioneering a topic that hasn't been on the map, I think that was appealing to a lot of the partners.
Ted Simons: A lot of the judges, these are experts in the field, correct? Who actually judges in this particular contest? You had a lot of folks giving three minutes of their best time.
Terri Wogan: We did. We have seven community judges, and they're CEOs of corporations here in the valley, and foundations. And we also have a group of our social Venture partners who work in the field of Venture philanthropy, so they're looking for that start-up organization or something that is unique that can scale and grow and hit a home run out of the park.
Ted Simons: I was going to ask what exactly the judges and the folks are looking for. But the presentation is important in and of itself.
Terri Wogan: The pitch is a big part of it, but we're also looking at the content of the pitch. So we're looking at innovation, we're looking at how you're unique, what impact you have, and then the actual pitch.
Ted Simons: How were nonprofits chosen to take part in the contest?
Terri Wogan: We put out a call for applications in September, and any nonprofit can apply. Then we had a group of our partners go through each of the applications and we selected 20 that we thought really would exemplify something unique, something innovative, that we wanted to know more about their story.
Ted Simons: And then you had seven-week mentorship program to improve the message, tighten the message? What were you taught?
Chris Linn: Absolutely. It was to really tighten your message. If you're going to have an audience with a potential donor, you sometimes only have a very short amount of time. So you need to be compelling with your message and help them understand what they're investing in. That's what we were taught.
Ted Simons: When you were done, did you look at yourself back when you start and went oh, boy! I really had a lot to learn.
Chris Linn: Absolutely. Absolutely. I also -- the value in what we went through was absolutely -- you use the word priceless to tell the story.
Ted Simons: Was there an ah-ha moment as far as the mentorship program or was it a compilation of common sense and education?
Chris Linn: I did have an ah-ha moment throughout the process. When I was trying to say how I would hone in on my pitch, I was saying, is that what you want to say? Say it. It was really about taking to it layman's terms and making sure people could understand.
Ted Simons: Why is this particular skill, the three-minute skill, the fast pitch to tighten the message, why is that so important for nonprofits?
Terri Wogan: Because there's so much competing noise out there for funding, and so we're trying to really get these nonprofits to understand that they have a very short amount of time to sell their story and their pitch. So we're hoping that they can look at their value proposition, their business model, and understand how to deliver that.
Ted Simons: What is social Venture partners, before we move forward?
Terri Wogan: We're an organization of individual donors who pool our philanthropic dollars and grant them out to various nonprofits. And we use a Venture capital approach ask we apply it to our philanthropy. Our partners also get their time and talents, their skills to help the business portion of a nonprofit.
Ted Simons: We talked about this last year, and you mentioned how this was a Venture capital approach to nonprofits. What exactly does that mean?
Terri Wogan: That means that we're looking at the infrastructure of an organization. Rather than the program. A lot of foundations and funders fund programs. But we will actually fund the operations of an organization, we really will look at what does this organization need in order to grow, what is the barrier stopping them and we'll do board development, help them with their messaging, help them with their financials, get them to start thinking more like a business.
Chris Linn: And what advice -- we got the next event coming up a week from today. Tempe center for the arts, correct? And what advice would you give those contestants who are going to have to get up on that stage and give three minutes of quality time?
Chris Linn: You deserve this. You've worked hard for this. Go up there and tell your story with conviction that. Would be my absolute advice.
Ted Simons: You really have to believe in what you're doing and be confident in what you're doing, and that shows.
Chris Linn: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: All right. Congratulations on last year's win. Good luck this year. It's good to have you both here.
Terri Wogan:SVP Executive Director;