JFSA and JCF to partner with SVP Fast Pitch program

Fast-Pitch-Finalists-on-StageFinalists from Social Venture Partner Tucson’s Fast Pitch 2017 celebrate on stage at the main event. (L-R) Danielle Figeuroa of Youth on Their Own, Liz Hernandez of Project Safe Place at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Lisa Shipek of Watershed  Management Group, Amalia Luxardo of The Florence Project, Sean Cronin of Stories That Soar! at Literacy Connects, L’Don Sawyer of St. Luke’s Home, and Jennifer Moore of Abbie School (Social Venture Partners Tucson)

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona are collaborating with Social Venture Partners Tucson to grow and advance its Fast Pitch program, which helps local nonprofits raise funds, boost awareness, and build their capacity.

In Fast Pitch, which debuted locally in 2015, SVP staff and volunteers give representatives of nonprofits free training to help them hone a three-minute talk that powerfully communicates their organization’s story. At the centerpiece event, the nonprofits take the stage to make their pitches to an audience of philanthropists and community members. This year’s program will include 10 nonprofits, and all will participate in the main event on March 11, 2021, with more than $100,000 in grants available. With uncertainty around the coronavirus, SVP is planning its programming to be virtual, in-person, or a hybrid. This year, the free training will continue after the event with a focus on donor connections and marketing strategy.

“Both we — Federation and Foundation — and SVP recognize the critical importance of capacity building for nonprofit agencies in Southern Arizona,” says Graham Hoffman, president and CEO of the Federation and Foundation, explaining that organizations need certain core components “to be high-functioning, excellent, impactful, successful in accomplishing their mission.” Critical areas include fundraising, board building and strengthening, measuring and evaluating their impact, and strategic planning.

“Graham served as a mentor last year,” says Ciara Garcia, executive director of SVP. “He and I had so many great conversations about what’s needed in our community, both from the donor perspective — people who are wanting to connect with nonprofits in a more personal way — and also what the nonprofit community needs in terms of real big investments in capacity building.”

Applications for Fast Pitch open Sept. 16 and close Oct. 16. The application process is easy, Garcia emphasizes. There will be two information sessions, on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and Tuesday, Sept. 22, both from 10-11 a.m. RSVP here.

This year, applicant organizations must meet one or more of the following areas of focus:

  • Support people who are experiencing health (mental or physical), educational or financial adversity as a result of COVID19
  • Serve historically marginalized, under-served, or under-resourced communities or populations
  • Actively work to promote social justice, including racial and gender justice


Complementing SVP’s deep relationships with nonprofits and its high energy Fast Pitch program, the Federation and Foundation bring to the table a wealth of donor connections as well as wide community connections and appeal, Garcia says.

Three representatives from the Federation and Foundation will serve on the selection committee that will choose this year’s participants. Hoffman will lead part of the phase two training, including teaching the nonprofit leaders how they can turn their Fast Pitch into a major gift ask.

In phase one of the training, participants also will work with Aaron Henne, a Los Angeles-based playwright, storyteller, corporate trainer, and artistic director of theatre dybbuk, a company whose work focuses on Jewish folklore and history.

Hoffman volunteered as a Fast Pitch mentor after attending as an audience member two years ago.

“I was encouraged to attend by a number of different members of the community and was really blown away by the experience,” he says.

He and Sandra Carter, an SVP partner and freelance interior designer, were mentors to Arcelia Cornidez, project director of Help and Hope for Youth at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southern Arizona.

“We worked with Arcy over the course of three months and that was an incredible opportunity. We’ve actually built a really deep and lasting relationship, and continue to be in touch,” Hoffman says, adding that Arcy’s program was among the big winners of grants and awards the night of the main event.

The experience reinforced “the great opportunity that this process represents in terms of the professional development for the nonprofit professionals like Arcy in the community as well as the longstanding impact that it can deliver for the organizations,” Hoffman says.

“We are encouraging (and will enthusiastically support) several of the Jewish community agencies to apply to participate in Fast Pitch this year. Jewish Family & Children’s Services has participated in the past and found the experience very meaningful,” he adds.

“Promoting and supporting the cultivation of the next generation of nonprofit leaders and facilitating meaningful connections between philanthropists and nonprofits is critical to our work and the Southern Arizona community,” says Lindsey Baker, Federation chief operating officer. “We are excited that Federation and Foundation stakeholders are championing and assisting with Fast Pitch and are energized about what’s ahead.”