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2011 Donor Report

When we kicked off the SIFP program in May, none of us imagined we’d have:

  • 120 social innovators apply
  • nearly 100 people volunteer in various capacities
  • 700 people attend the fast pitch event to see 14 excellent innovators pitch and to connect with all 28 semifinalists

…and that we would receive such overwhelmingly-positive feedback on the entire program from all.

But we did!

Our v1.0 event was made so much better by leveraging learning from LA, Phoenix, RI, and other SVPs, our partners in local angel groups like ZINO, and from UWand SU business plan competition leaders, and many others.  We thank them all for their help.  And we thank again the volunteers who contributed valuable time mentoring, judging, and more.  Notwithstanding the excellent feedback, we, SVP partners, and others on the “CoreTeam” have a list as long as our arms of things we want to improve and/or do differently in 2012.  Following are things we’ve learned from anecdotal discussions as well as from three in-depth surveys: innovators, volunteers, and attendees.


Helping the social innovators achieve more impact is of course why we are all so committed to this effort.  A Finalist who didn’t get money or investment said to us that despite the disappointment of not winning, “…the SIFP competition has been nothing short of transformational.”  Other participants in the program have told us unambiguously that they value the program:

  • 48% report improving their model for organizational sustainability as a result of the program
  • 85% report “have gained new skills and confidence in articulating what their org/program achieves in terms of social impact”
  • 81% of participants are net-promoters (would recommend or highly recommend someone else to participate)
  • 20% report they have received or are confident they will receive more than $5,000 in additional funding (separate from SIFP awards) as a result of participating in the program.  Two expect to receive $25k+ or more each.   [This result is amazing – showing so much financial impact so quickly.  Our efforts are already leveraged!]

While only time and continued research will tell the true impact of all of our efforts to increase the speed and sustainability of social innovation in our region, it’s safe to say we’re off to a good start.


  • 82% are likely or highly likely to attend in 2012 (on October 18th – mark your calendar now!)
  • 31% of attendees were 51-60, while 12% were under 30.  We know we had many under 20 as well, but they don’t seem to fill out surveys…
  • SVP partners and staff are great at spreading the word, with nearly 60% having heard about SIFP via SVP.  “Emails from friends” was the #2 source of reaching attendees.
  • 60% of attendees have made connections to help innovators at the event, and nearly 20% have donated (or pledged) to support them already!  50% are “inspired to be more active in supporting local social impact organizations.”
  • The audience loved seeing the range of innovators, from high school to polished for-profit to established non-profit ventures.  79% said that the high school pitches exceeded expectations; 56% said the same for university.  Half to 2/3+ of attendees said they liked the overall mix of the tracks and would not change it; over 25% wanted to see much more from university and for-profit orgs.
  • Audience satisfaction was exceptionally high, with 64% rating SIFP as above or far above expectations.


Looking forward to 2012, we asked many questions about how to improve the specifics of the SIFP program and/or about what new things social innovators would value:

  • Pitch coaching was well received, with 59% feeling the program was “about right”, and 28% wanting even more pitch coaching.  64% would prefer smaller groups with more intense working.
  • 74% of innovators rate SIFP top-2-box for effective use of their time.
  • 86% want the same or more mentoring, with 25% rating their mentoring as “exceptional”, while 65% rated mentoring between good and very helpful.
  • Top-3 potential additional workshops (% likely/very likely to attend):
    1. Business modeling & org sustainability (68%)
    2. Spreading the word on a limited budget via mkt/PR, social media (67%)
    3. Measuring and reporting social impact (61%)
  • 72% would like to see much more opportunity for networking with mentors, coaches, judges, donors, and investors.

Volunteer Satisfaction

We recruited about 100 volunteers from the community to participate in SIFP, ranging from core team members who devoted hundreds of hours each over the course of 5 months, to CxOs of established organizations who spent 4-8 hours mentoring and/or judging contestants on everything from business models to communication of social impact. Here’s what they told us:

  • Net satisfaction with the program was 91%, with 78% rating the program 5 on a scale of 1-5.
  • 90% agreed or strongly agreed that “the SIFP program worked well in identifying, training, and funding organizations with social impact and sustainability.”
  • One representative commented “My overall experience was exceptional and I believe the approach will greatly expand its impact in years to come.”
  • 100% (!!!) said they “look forward to spending time on SIFP again in 2012.”

All that said, we have a long list of things to do better next year, addressing both how we best utilize the volunteer talent and how we run the overall program.  The constructive feedback we received will ensure we can tune the program effectively and also give excellent guidance to other groups replicating the program.


Our other big objective for 2012 is to complete and then test the SIFP-in-a-box replication model.  As of the SVP-International conference in mid-October, we have 2 likely customers for it already (Silicon Valley and Calgary SVP chapters).  We have already kicked off the next phase of work to get In-a-Box done in time for them to roll out for their 2012 inaugural programs.