Share Tank' lets local nonprofits pitch projects
This is the article from the Statesman Journal on 10/6/2015 by Kaellen Hessel,
Five local nonprofits will have a chance to swim with the big fish, as they face off in a funding competition modeled off of ABC's hit venture capital TV show, "Shark Tank."
More than $328,000 is at stake at Center for Community Innovation's Nonprofit Share Tank. During the event, the five nonprofits will present ideas for projects to local philanthropists. The philanthropists will give feedback and choose whether to back the projects.
The idea was inspired by ABC's "Shark Tank," which features entrepreneurs looking for investment from venture capitalists.
The event is meant to make fundraising fun and to give nonprofits a chance to practice the pitches they give to donors — and get constructive criticism about how they can improve them.
"I think it's fantastic," said Sandra Burnett, executive director of Salem Art Association. "They're thinking out of the box and stretching their boundaries. For innovation, they get top marks."
Share Tank is the first large-scale event for Center for Community Innovation, a new nonprofit working to help area nonprofits by providing professional development, encouraging networking among organizations, and increasing volunteerism and philanthropy.
Center for Community Innovation received 43 applications from 36 nonprofits interested in participating. Event organizers whittled that number down to five finalists: The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs, Marion-Polk Food Share, IKE Box, Liberty House and Salem Art Association.
Burnett said it's a wonderful opportunity to go through a presentation and receive feedback to improve the pitch.
You don't know what you can improve upon until you get it critiqued, she said. Until now, she hasn't gotten feedback on fundraising efforts in such a professional, high-mannered way.
The art association will be asking for the last $86,000 they need to fund renovations to make the Bush Barn Art Center accessible to people with disabilities — a project the group has been working on for six years and discussing for decades.
"We've never come this close until now," Burnett said.
Joy St. Peter, executive director of The Joys of Living, said her board members are hoping to start a program that will allow prisoners to raise assistance-dogs-in-training. Right now, volunteers take puppies in each week, but they're unable to stay overnight.
It's a project that will take considerable funds — they're asking for $60,000 — and St. Peter thinks participating in Share Tank will get that program started sooner.
Funding won't only come from the philanthropists on stage. Audience members are able to become "sharks" themselves and contribute to any project that catches their eye, said Phil McCorkle, president of Center for Community Innovation.
The presentations will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube with a link to donate to the projects, so anyone can donate, even after the event.
Alison Kelley, executive director of Liberty House, sees the event as a way to build community, generate interest in philanthropy and get people more involved with area nonprofits. Liberty House, a child abuse assessment center, is asking for $32,500 to build a child-friendly garden in between its two buildings that children can explore while waiting.
"It's a wonderful way to introduce a different model for supporting our nonprofits," she said. "Having a group of healthy nonprofits is really important to helping the community itself be healthy."
Center for Community Innovation's Nonprofit Share Tank will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Salem Convention Center. Tickets are $25 each or $125 for a table of six. Tickets can be purchased at https://ccioregon.org/share-tank/nonprofit-share-tank-tickets/.
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