Florida funders support earned-income fast pitch event

Florida funders support earned-income fast pitch event

Posted on December 02, 2014 by Mike Oxman, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission™

ngoFour Southwest Florida-based philanthropies, plus nearly 50 investors and business leaders, convened in Sarasota recently to watch three mini business-plan pitches from nonprofit entrepreneurs in a session likened to a kinder version of Shark Tank. Known as the FAST FOUR, the teams hailed from Bradenton, Myakka City, and St. Petersburg.

The FAST PITCH marked the end of an intense 14-week consulting engagement where the nonprofits developed business plans for a revenue-generating product or service as part of their work with No Margin, No Mission

  •  Lemur Conservation Foundationan eco-friendly education, learning, and retreat center that will teach conservation principles and practices to students, educators, nonprofits, and businesses.
  •  Prevent Blindness Floridaan online store that will (1) educate individuals about the need for sight saving products; and (2) sell a selection of high quality, “best in class” items to enhance and preserve sight.

With funders, investors, and nonprofit leaders all gathered in one place, the magic of collaboration unfolded in entrepreneurial and powerful ways. This is the story of how four philanthropic organizations came together to create something special.


In what is quickly becoming a new Sarasota tradition, The Patterson Foundation recently played host to the community’s second exciting FAST PITCH event. With a substantial investment in earned-income initiatives to help nonprofits in Sarasota and Manatee Counties become stronger and more thrivable, the goals of this entrepreneurial program were threefold:

  • Provide support to accelerate the success of participating nonprofits by helping to build their core strengths, reduce inefficiencies, and enhance effectiveness.
  • Embed lasting change in participating organizations through education, training, and a series of essential practices designed to increase their chances of success in the short and long-term.
  • Ensure that key learning and outcomes are shared during the initiative to spread the word and amplify impact.

Not only did The Patterson Foundation financially support this effort for three of the FAST FOUR organizations (HOPE Family Services, Lemur Conservation Association, Women’s Resource Center of Manatee), the foundation also encouraged collaboration along the way with a mid-point sharing session to (1) track progress for each team’s business planning efforts; and (2) have an opportunity to discuss and ask questions.


Given the community-wide nature of this initiative, it made sense for The Patterson Foundation to collaborate with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for the FAST PITCH. With their strong ties to the donor community, they were instrumental in extending invitations to a cadre of Sarasota-area investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders who offered their business-savvy, expertise, and thoughtful perspectives during the FAST PITCH. This was in addition to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s strong show of support from their Staff and Board members who were on hand to participate in the event.

Of course, it also helped that each of the FAST FOUR organizations had existing profiles in The Giving Partner, a popular and highly useful online tool populated with in-depth information about more than 300 charitable organizations serving Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.


For the first time, the Sarasota FAST PITCH also welcomed the participation of Allegany Franciscan Ministries, a large philanthropic organization (located outside of the Sarasota area) that seeks to improve the overall health of individuals by increasing access to health services and information.

Having worked extensively with No Margin, No Mission on behalf of its grantees to educate, train, and assist them with business plan development, and with a fundamental belief in the importance of earned income to help strengthen the nonprofit sector, they were perfectly aligned for collaboration.

When it became clear that one of Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ grantees, Prevent Blindness Florida, would complete business planning with No Margin, No Mission at the same time as the Sarasota projects, it made imminent sense for them to join the already-formed FAST PITCH team of three, and the FAST FOUR was born!

With invitations extended to a group of influential Tampa/St. Petersburg-based funders, investors, and leaders to attend the FAST PITCH, yet another element of collaboration was created.


Finally, through Allegany Franciscan Ministries, a fourth philanthropic organization joined the collaboration, resulting in participation by the Tampa-based Conn Memorial Foundation whose focus is on educational achievement of children and youth in low-income neighborhoods.

No stranger to grantee capacity building, examples of their ongoing work included training and coaching activities delivered by their own staff, board, community partners, and in partnership with the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, particularly in fund development and strategic communications.

However, as a newcomer to No Margin, No Mission’s FAST PITCH process and earned income initiatives in Florida, this foundation seized the opportunity to learn about and participate in a unique approach to nonprofit capacity building.

Through their participation in the FAST PITCH, the Conn Memorial Foundation brought not only additional insight and perspective to the session, but also a series of thought-provoking questions for the FAST FOUR to offer an additional funder point-of-view.

Want to learn more about earned income and related topics?

  • Read all of our Guest Blogs for The Patterson Foundation.

This post was contributed by Michael Oxman and Larry Clark, co-founders, managing partners and principals of No Margin, No Mission.™

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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