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Greater Cincinnati Nonprofits Rewarded for Innovation

Posted by msien

Breakthrough Cincinnati shares information with Fast Pitch attendees before and after the event.Social Venture Partners (SVP) Cincinnati is leading an initiative to support nonprofits expand their social innovations and an SVP innovation of their own called Fast Pitch. “As United Way of Greater Cincinnati celebrates 100 years of partnering with others to bring forth innovative programs and strategic initiatives that change people’s lives, it was an easy choice to be part of Fast Pitch – one of the most innovative things happening in philanthropy today,” says Carol Aquino, vice president of marketing at UWGC and sponsor of one of the awards.

Last night, 8 nonprofits competed for over $30,000 in awards with 3-minute pitches in the second annual Fast Pitch.  These nonprofits were carefully screened for the strength of their innovative by a rigorous process, trained in sharing their story. “One of the things that is so important to nonprofits is it’s critical that they can tell their story and they can persuade individuals to support them financially” Joan Kaup, SVP executive director said. “So we work with these nonprofits to make them better and stronger at telling their story.”

The eight competing nonprofits were: Breakthrough Cincinnati, Changing Gears, Circle Tail, Faces without Places, Healthy Visions, Lawn Life, Melodic Connections and the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative of the UC Foundation.

SVP not only trains them for Fast Pitch but how to use what they learn every day to promote their cause. “I was invited to talk to a community service club about Changing Gears. And I’m leading off the talk with my pitch. The coaching work for Fast Pitch is already being put to use and helping tell our story” Joel Bokelman, President of ChangingGears and winner of the grand prize for Innovation that Matters.

FP2015-1971Melisse May, local SVP partner chaired this event again this year. She says, “The event quadrupled since our inaugural Fast Pitch last year. We have more community engagement from foundations and nonprofits. The audience and sponsors are engaged in making philanthropy vibrant and effective. We’re excited to be accelerators for the nonprofits we work with and a catalytic spark in the community of philanthropy.”

Kate Keller, vice president for Interact for Health, explains why Fast Pitch sponsorship is far more than a simple act of charity. Fast Pitch “is an opportunity for engagement between donor and recipient. The event opens communication and provides exposure of the nonprofit to the community”, explains Keller. Interact for Health sponsored the $5,000 award for the organization best representing how Good Work Changes Lives.

FP2015-1931Tim Arnold, executive director of Lawn Life, winner of the Audience Choice, Student Choice and the Partners Choice for Philanthropitch International as well as A Good Story Told Well Award, remarked, “The people who heard our story tonight understood the plight of homeless teenagers and at-risk youth in the community. I am humbled and grateful. ‎Cincinnati will be the example for the country: Teaching our children how to fish so that they may eat for Life.”

A panel of independent judges awarded large prizes to the following:

The grand prize of $10,000 was donated by Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation and awarded to ChangingGears

Interact for Health sponsored the $5,000 Good Idea Made Possible Award, for a creative and innovative program, to Healthy Visions.

$5,000 Good Work Changes Lives award sponsored by United Way of Greater Cincinnati was awarded to UC Foundation on behalf of Higher Education Mentoring Initiative This award focuses on strong community impact.

Charitable Words and NKU’s Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project joined forces to contribute $2,500 for The Good Story Told Well Award which went to Lawn Life.

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation presented a $1,500 award for the “Aha Moment” to Circle Tail.FP2015-1690

Other awards from the event were awarded based on audience voting:

Members of the local Social Ventures Partners affiliate, chose the nonprofit that is selected to represent SVP Cincinnati in the first Philanthropitch International competition who will be flown to Austin Texas in September to compete for $100,000 in prize money.  This opportunity was awarded to Lawn Life.

Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub empowers Cincinnati’s nonprofit community to create and sustain social enterprises…business ventures that put the “common good” first. Healthy Visions’ eSafeTeen social enterprise was awarded a $5,000 scholarship because of its social purpose and potential for viability as well as the organization’s investment in resources and disciplined approach.

The Jacob G Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, sponsored a $5,000 award that was decided by the 100 college students in the audience. The students came from the Health Services Administration’s Philanthropy Program at Xavier University, the Communication and Civic Engagement Classes at UC,  and the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program of NKY. Collectively, they chose Lawn Life.

The Audience Choice Award of $1,000, sponsored by Ignite Philanthropy Advisors, also went to Lawn Life.

Giveunity, a new technology to promote instant micro funding through a smart phone app, awarded two prizes.  Adopt a Book won for the most profiles viewed by the audience and ChangingGears won $500 for the most donations generated from the audience during the event.



Adopt a Book – Giveunity Award for most profile views

Changing Gears – Giveunity Award for most donations and $500 additional contribution

Lawn Life – Audience Choice Award of $1000

Lawn Life – Student Choice Award of $5000

Healthy Visions – Flywheel Social Enterprise Scholarship ($5000 value)

Circle Tail – Good Point, “Aha Moment” $1,500 award

Lawn Life – Good Story Told Well Award of $2,500

UC Foundation HEMI – Good Work Changes Lives $5,000 award

Healthy Visions – Good Idea Made Possible, $5,000 award

ChangingGears – Innovation that Matters Grand Award of $10,000

Lawn Life – Philanthropitch International Competition



180 seconds is how long each person had to tell make a fast pitch

8 representatives from local nonprofits were coached and selected to compete

11 awards were presented

$30,000 in unrestricted grants, scholarship and marketing support was awarded

537 people attended