By Jerry Jones, Board Member, Peace River Wildlife Center
Wow! Our heads are still spinning. On November 15th, we had 15 minutes to pitch our business plan to a group of potential donors and investors. We needed $70,000 to start an online gift shop, with the profits going to our wildlife center. We had a good cause, a good plan, and good help from No Margin, No Mission (NMNM) and The Patterson Foundation (TPF). So we did our pitch.
Mike Oxman with NMNM kicked it off, welcoming everyone and explaining the process. He said we were one of four nonprofits that emerged from a group of 100 to participate in Margin & Mission Ignition, TPF’s earned income initiative designed to help nonprofits boost revenue, entrepreneurial capacity, and mission impact. He told the room that this moment was months in the making.
Our board president introduced the proposal. Another board member explained the plan. The executive director wrapped it up. We asked for questions. The first person to stand was another board member, who announced he and his wife were donating $5,000. Then another person wrote a check and passed it forward. Then another person said they were pledging $7,500. Then another check came forward. We were reeling with joy and disbelief. Even more donations followed.
In 15 minutes, we had raised $25,962.
Could it get any better? Yes, it could! Michael Corley with TPF raised the roof when he announced that TPF would match the donations, dollar for dollar.
Update: in 15 minutes, we had raised 2 x $25,962 = $51,924. We were stunned. Happy and stunned.
At the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, we treat about 2,000 animals a year. We also provide permanent homes for animals that cannot be released back into the wild. We pay for all of this with income from just two sources: donations and gift shop sales. We get no government money, no grants. So, it was very important we find another way to earn more income.
The Fast Pitch audience knew this. They knew we weren’t going into business just because we wanted to sell t-shirts; we’re doing this to save animals’ lives. Our audience, which numbered nearly 40, was comprised of people who had shown previous support of the Center.
There was a great vibe in the air for our Fast Pitch. Attendees were greeted at the door by several Wildlife Center residents, including Luna, a white screech owl, and Blossom the Possum. We displayed some of the merchandise from our gift shop that would be part of our online inventory. Board members, volunteers, and staff greeted and visited with the attendees. Everyone was in a great mood when we got down to business.
Were we lucky to get such a great response? Well, there’s that old adage that luck happens when hard work meets opportunity. No Margin, No Mission and The Patterson Foundation gave us the opportunity and terrific guidance. We provided the hard work, putting several months into crafting a business plan and preparing our presentation. We invited people we knew who had a strong connection to what we do.
And we had adorable animals.
A postscript: at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast this week, we did a mini-presentation of our fast pitch. Five minutes.
Chamber members donated $1,000 on the spot.
We’re on our way!
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