We’re innovative changemakers. Why shouldn’t we fundraise the same way? - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 12, 2022 7:15 am

We’re innovative changemakers. Why shouldn’t we fundraise the same way?

Philanthropitch Philadelphia returns Sept. 20. Here's ACHIEVEability Executive Director Jamila Harris-Morrison on why the live pitch competition is much more than that.

Philanthropitch Philadelphia.

(Courtesy photo)

If you’re like me, you view public speaking as a necessary evil, fueled by anxious stomach churning, way too much reassurance from team members, and when desperate, wine.

So, when I stood onstage at Philanthropitch Philadelphia last fall, facing a dark room with blinding spotlights and a huge audience eagerly awaiting my first word, it’s safe to say I was nervous. Petrified, even.

The pressure was on.

Philanthropitch is a live pitch event that gives nonprofits a platform to launch innovative, high-impact models to improve their city. It’s an opportunity to receive not just an investment, but also exposure to new donors, cross-sector stakeholders, and mentors that support the nonprofit well beyond the competition itself.

For us, the challenge was to promote TechUp — our transformational initiative that disrupts the cycle of dead-end jobs for marginalized communities by propelling Black residents experiencing poverty into high-pay, high-growth business technology careers — in only three minutes.

The experience was full of surprises that we didn’t expect. We didn’t just win funding for TechUp, we gained a fresh perspective on our strategy, as well as connections to take full advantage of our experience. You should take the leap and participate, too.

Here’s what my organization, ACHIEVEability, gained from Philanthropitch:

#1: A new framework for scaling and sustainability.

Besides competing for capital to jumpstart our initiative, Philanthropitch participants learn how to develop revenue-generating models rather than relying solely on traditional philanthropy.

Leading up to pitch day, we received mentorship and professional development from the Philanthropitch team which helped us develop our marketing strategy and proforma — just like a business.

#2: A new way to communicate with stakeholders.

To develop a concise three-minute pitch, we had to use compelling language that got straight to the point.

Since the competition, we’ve used this pitch style to communicate with diverse stakeholders, from public figures to prospective funders, and the results have been astounding. There is strength in strategically withholding just enough information to leave a lasting impression that builds excitement and intrigue and invites audience participation.

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#3: New champions for our mission to end poverty.

Philanthropitch has had a ripple effect for us — on the night of, our team met so many thoughtful people that are invested in making Philadelphia a better place for all. These individuals connected us to new opportunities that we had never anticipated.

Everyday Philadelphians participated in voting, cheered on nonprofits, and met value-aligned stakeholders. And what’s the best part? They continued to stay engaged by donating, volunteering, and even hosting us on a podcast (listen here!).

The best cross-sector partnerships harness each stakeholder’s unique strengths and expertise to work towards a shared goal. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Philanthropitch successfully models this approach, cultivates spaces for value-aligned Philadelphians to connect towards common goals, and encourages their peers in the private and philanthropic sectors to do the same.

ACHIEVEability has never launched a program with as much initial momentum as TechUp, and Philanthropitch lit the fire for this significant investment and enthusiasm. Because of this, we can triple our next cohort, and connect more Black residents to life-changing careers.

There are four great organizations up for funding this year, and I hope they gain as much meaning in this process as we did. So, come join me at Philanthropitch on Sept. 20. And if you can’t make it in person, you can still vote online.

You won’t be on stage, facing the bright lights and pressure (this year!), but you’ll learn about impactful organizations, meet like-minded individuals, and give back to your neighbors.

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Philanthropitch Philadelphia will be held Sept. 20 at the Suzanne Roberts Theater at 6 p.m.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Beyond The Bars
  • Big Picture Philadelphia
  • Body Empowerment Project
  • Yoga 4 Philly

Tickets are on sale now. The full cost of your ticket is a direct donation to the nonprofit of your choice through the Audience Award. Each nonprofit pitch will also be posted online for viewing and voting from Sept. 12 to 19 at Philanthropitch.org/philadelphia.

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