Victory Cup Initiative

VCIThis morning I took off my fundraising hat and put on my funder hat, as I had the opportunity to be part of the review process of applications for the Victory Cup Initiative (VCI).

The VCI is a platform where companies come together for philanthropic investing with a twist. This unique event is designed to provide a high-profile opportunity for charitable organizations to tell their stories, build their strategies and partner with business and community leaders to make a difference in Central Florida. During this breakfast event, 10 of Central Florida’s top nonprofits present a 2 minute, 30 second pitch on who they are, how they are changing lives and how they are serving the community to a room of philanthropists who will vote to determine the winner of the $20,000 grand prize. Organizations also compete for second ($15,000) and third place ($10,000) financial awards. All remaining organizations will be awarded a $1,000 participation grant. The Ten finalists are selected through an application process to compete in main event for cash awards. In its first two years, the victory cup initiative received applications from 132 nonprofits and distributed $84,000 in awards to 20 local nonprofits.

IMG_0975 (1)About 6 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Ashley Vann, VCI Founder, as part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day. VCI was to be recognized as an honoree in the AFP social enterprise and community service category. This honor recognizes organizations – specifically non-profits, civic or service groups – that are actively engaged in philanthropy through social enterprise or a “hybrid” nonprofit business model, or engaged in exceptional community service.

Ashely’s enthusiasm was very infectious. I wanted to be involved. So, I signed up to be part of the application judging committee. The 2018 event won’t take place until February 7, but the behind the scenes efforts are well under way including the application process, which is where I came in.

The application was fairly simple compared to most grant application. Each of the applicates were asked:

What is your organization’s mission?

Briefly describe your major programs and activities.

What is your elevator speech? (90 seconds or less description)

Give one of the best examples of a constituent has been positively impacted by your organization.

Describe your organization’s vision for furthering your mission over the next 3-5 years.

I received 10 applications via a secure portal. The evaluation review instructions called for me to rank 1-10 how I felt about the nonprofit answered the following questions:

Does the nonprofit have a compelling story that needs to be shared with the community?

What is the magnitude of the impact of the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s programs and activities?

How comprehensive is the nonprofit organization’s vision for serving their constituents?

Then the last question was: Should this nonprofit organizations be one of the finalist which presents in the Victory Cup Initiative 2018? Yes. No. Or Maybe.

VCI $20KSounds simple, right? No! It was a lot harder than it looked. I was familiar with a couple of the applicants, but there a couple I had never heard about. None of which I have any association with, or I would have recuse myself. All were worthy of support, but I couldn’t just send them all along to in the finalist. I felt I had a responsibility to really think about these charities and the causes they represented and what they said in their application. There was a lot of money on the line, and the opportunity to spread awareness for their cause.

The VCI is dedicated to equipping Central Florida nonprofits with the skills and training to better tell their story and ultimately raise more funds. Now that is a cause I can get behind.  Here’s the website is you want to learn more or buy tickets for the 2018 VCI. http://www.victorycupinitiative.com/

If you are reading this and your organization didn’t get into the finalist, don’t get mad at me. I only reviewed 10 of the applications, there were 20 other reviewers. Giving away money is hard. I am glad I had my small part. It was a learning experience. Not only did I learn about some really neat nonprofit organizations, but I gained experience looking at applications through funders eyes.

Ashley’s passion for uniting donors with the causes they care about sparked her idea for the inaugural VCI. Ashley knows the joy of giving.

If your organization could use help in spreading the message about your cause, call me. Let’s talk.

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