Photo Courtesy of Tia Gemmell

SVP Sacramento: Empowering Nonprofits in Telling Their Story

Back By Cameron Law

Storytelling is one of the most impactful ways to connect, inspire and shape a vision for the future. For many nonprofits, storytelling proves to be rather difficult. The problem is not due to a lack of stories to tell, but rather an abundance of them, making it challenging for nonprofit leaders to demonstrate exactly what they do and the impact they are having.

SVP Sacramento, a nonprofit that consists of a community of philanthropists who invest and engage with educational nonprofits to ensure all students in the Greater Sacramento region are on a clear pathway to economic security, has the solution. Through its SVP Fast Pitch program, now in its fifth year, SVP Sacramento has supported 85 nonprofits in telling their story.

“The SVP Fast Pitch program empowers our nonprofit community in telling their story by building a foundational message that speaks to what they do, how they do it and why you should care,” says Cameron Law, SVP Sacramento executive director.

Over a four-month-long social innovation program, SVP supports a cohort of 20 nonprofits in building their three-minute story. The program begins with the end in mind by running a workshop around metrics and data and identifying what end impact each nonprofit wants to create. SVP helps in humanizing the data by supporting the nonprofit leader in crafting a story that clearly represents the transition people can make through its programs and services.

Once the foundational story is built, SVP connects 40 business and community leaders who act as coaches in honing and refining the nonprofits’ message further. In the forum sessions, the nonprofit leaders have a safe container to deliver their story and receive feedback from all the coaches. They work with their two specifically dedicated coaches who support them in the refining process.

The power of building an organizational story is it does not stop with the nonprofit leader. This story is internalized and utilized beyond just one event. The story helps empower and inspire board members and staff, as they now have a consistent message that makes them better advocates for their organization.

“There is newfound energy in the room, more determination, and clarity as well as a wholesome agreement of what we would like to pursue,” says Brandon Montalvo, board member of nonprofit The Playmakers, a 2019 SVP Fast Pitch participant. “As a fellow board member and enthusiast of our executive director, I believe [SVP Fast Pitch] was the last piece of the pie that we needed to turn this organization from good to great.”

The pinnacle of the SVP Fast Pitch program is an event for its 10 finalists. The event took place April 3 at the Golden 1 Center, with over 1,000 attendees. More than $72,000 was raised for the 10 finalists; $20,000 in cash prizes were awarded to first, second, third place and people’s choice winners; and $74,500 worth of in-kind value was connected to the competing nonprofits.

“SVP Fast Pitch jump-started an exciting awareness campaign for us across the Sacramento region’s philanthropic community, creating more educational opportunities for kids,” Eaton Dunkleberger, CEO of Sierra Nevada Journeys, says.

Quick facts:

  • 85 nonprofits trained
  • $113,000 in cash awards
  • $222,500 of in-kind services connected
  • Over $1.05 million in follow-on funding