Nonprofits Honored at SVP’s Fast Pitch
By Brittany York
Three nonprofit organizations were recognized and rewarded for their work at the Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch program Wednesday night at The Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Faces without Places won top honors and a $5,000 grant sponsored by The Strive Partnership. The Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky was awarded $1,500 by Charitable Words for a “Good Story, Told Well.” Su Casa was voted by the audience as “favorite presenter” and received a $1,000 grant, co-sponsored by Ignite Philanthropy Advisors.
Eight presenters had three minutes to make the case for their mission and program impacts before an audience of more than 150. Other presenters included: Boys Hope Girls Hope, Covington Partners, Hearing Speech and Deaf Center, Literacy Network and WordPlay.
The judges were Geoff Zimmerman of the Strive Partnership, Michael Coffey of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Jim Yunker of Smith, Beers, Yunker & Company. The founders of Tom + Chee, Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush, presented a keynote speech discussing their experiences on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
SVP invests in a worthy nonprofit each year, but it’s never easy to choose just one, according to Melisse May, SVP partner and Fast Pitch chair. “We have a very involved, comprehensive process to look at potential investees, and we start with hundreds and get down to 20 or 30—and they’re all very worthy,” May said. “So we drew from that list — the ones we wish we could have invested in—but that didn’t become our final top candidate.”
For Yunker, judging was “not an easy task,” as each organization had notable impacts to share. “It comes down to being personal,” May said. From the tattered pair of shoes worn by the child who now has a permanent place to call home, to the underpaid and vulnerable worker who came to the U.S. to create a better life for himself but was instead taken advantage of, right here in Cincinnati, the stories certainly hit close to home.
This was a “family night” for Charitable Words, said founder and editor Tom Callinan, who recused himself from voting. He has been involved as a board member and volunteer with two of the presenting organizations and SVP’s international board. Maureen Callinan is a volunteer tutor and supporter of WordPlay.
As a member of SVP’s international board I have seen Fast Pitches in several other SVP cities, he said. I won’t name them in respect to this honest observation: “SVP’s Cincinnati’s event was by far the best – in execution, the venue, the speakers and the wonderful nonprofits telling their stories.”
“It was great to see SVP convene this event as a hub for engagement and learning in the nonprofit community,” Callinan said. “Perhaps just or more valuable as the grants awarded was the exposure for the nonprofits and coaching they received by SVP partners in telling the stories about the importance and impact of their work.
“The nonprofits that did not get grants were winners, too. I am sure the experience will lead to increased awareness and support for their mission,” Callinan said.
Editor’s Note: Three Charitable Words Scholars from the Art Academy of Cincinnati are interns with SVP. Jonathan Medina and Katie Dobson worked specifically on Fast Pitch branding, creating the program for the event, in addition to an impact report. Katie Barnett is currently working on the SVP newsletter. Joan Kaup, SVP’s executive director, said it’s great to get new perspective—particularly from energetic young minds.
For Dobson, the experience was rewarding as well, not only because it provided her with valuable experience and a strong design piece for her portfolio, but also because she was able to use her knowledge to help SVP better fulfill its mission. “I was pleased with the process SVP took me through—the hands-on meetings, discussion, and role I got to play as designer in the process,” Dobson said. “It was great to collaborate with Social Venture Partners of Cincinnati to deliver to them a meaningful piece that will help propel their organization forward.”by