Local nonprofit executives will compete for donations in a live fast-pitch competition.

Like a Shark Tank for nonprofits, Philanthropitch is a fast-pitch competition in which social entrepreneurs “sell” their ideas to win donations. The event, created in Austin, Texas, in 2013 by Notley Ventures, is coming to Columbus’ Jo Ann Davidson Theatre at the Riffe Center next Monday at 6 p.m., hosted by Social Ventures and Kiwanis Club. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered at philanthropitch.org/columbus

We asked Allen Proctor, president and CEO of Social Ventures, to tell us a little more about the event.

Why did Social Ventures choose to sponsor Philanthropitch?

We saw that in Austin, the Philanthropitch program had been able to engage small and mid-size businesses to channel their employee engagement or employee event funds into philanthropy. Here in Columbus, we are still large-corporation-dominated in philanthropy. We thought that if this program could be as successful in Columbus as it has been in Austin and other cities, we would actually be able to create a whole new source of philanthropic funding for social innovation.

How much money will be at stake?

There are three pots of money that will be channeled to the seven nonprofits that are pitching: money contributed by the judges themselves, money from companies sponsoring the event, whose employees will vote, and money from ticket sales, which will be awarded according to an audience vote. It looks like there will be a pot of about $80,000. That will go up as more tickets are sold. The intent of Philanthropitch is everybody comes away with money. Some will come away with more than others, I’m sure.

It’s not a huge amount of money.

You know, it’s the first time. They’ve done it in Austin for many more years, and they generally get to $200,000 or $300,000 in one night. People who attend vote their ticket price, but they can also add more money to the pot—so it’s not frozen in place. The notion is that as it gets its legs and people have seen what it is, more people will want to get involved and more people will jump on the train.

I understand there were 50 applications to participate. What were the criteria for selecting finalists?

The real theme is innovation. We’re going to do something new; we’re going to do something bigger; we’re going to do something different. 

Will the “fast-pitch” competitors have a time limit?

Yes. Three minutes to pitch, plus three minutes for Q and A from the judges, so six minutes in all.

[Notley has] put a lot of support into the seven finalists. Formal coaching started Feb. 1. There were in-person coaching sessions and then long-distance web coaching as well.

Is it your hope that this event and others like it will cause businesses and individuals to rethink the way they make contributions?

My hope is that it will cause our small- and medium-size businesses to think, “If I'm going to spend $10,000 for an employee event, let me use it for an event that ultimately contributes to social good.”

Would Philanthropitch come back to companies that wanted to host them?

Well, let’s start where we are. My great hope is Philanthropitch will be so successful that it will be back next year—and then it’ll start giving people ideas on how to do similar events within their companies as a way to engage employees.


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