Connect with us


Local organizations unite to support nonprofits

Mark Parker



Lorielle Hollaway won $15,000 in unrestricted grant funding for Cultured Books at SVP's 2021 Fast Pitch competition, sponsored by Community Foundation Tampa Bay. Photo provided.

Founded in 2014, Social Venture Partners (SVP) Tampa Bay’s mission is to bolster the growth and sustainability of regional nonprofits by utilizing its members’ expertise and resources.

It does so with the help of a long-standing partner – the Community Foundation Tampa Bay (CFTB). One common goal unites the two organizations: creating impactful community change. The different yet complementary angles each takes to achieve that mission merge during SVP’s annual Fast Pitch event.

CFTB has been the title sponsor for Fast Pitch since its inception in 2016. Dr. Jesse Coraggio, senior vice president of community impact, explained why SVP and its signature event are one of the first local resources he highlights to area nonprofits in need of a helping hand.

“We’re a proud sponsor of activities like Fast Pitch and supporting them in the community, and think they do some incredible work,” said Coraggio. “Really provide mentorship and guidance for nonprofit organizations.”

An international organization serving eight countries, the local SVP chapter has strategically helped over 50 area nonprofits, donated more than $500,000 and the community leaders that comprise its membership have dedicated upwards of 2,500 service hours.

The eight Tampa Bay organizations participating in the year’s Fast Pitch – culminating in the Nov. 2 signature event at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg – are already participating in a rigorous six-week business accelerator class.

These include Alpha House, the Arts Conservatory for Teens, the Barbershop Book Club, Inc, the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, Florida Resurrection House, Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Green Book of Tampa Bay and the Sweetwater Organic Farm.

Organizers carefully selected eight participants from over 50 applicants to participate in the course developed and led by some of the region’s top educators and business professionals. Throughout the six weeks, the nonprofit’s leaders receive lessons on operations, marketing, finance, legal applications and properly communicating their mission.

Each works with a mentor to develop a three-minute pitch detailing their organization’s goals and how they plan to fund operations. Coraggio called that guidance “critically important” to the more than 15,000 registered nonprofits in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

“Nonprofits are usually organizations that are built on a lot of passion and commitment to help those in need,” said Coraggio. “But not always the resources they truly need to accomplish that mission. And I think SVP is one of those important resources out there that will help them along their way.”

He called the annual pitch contest the “fun part,” which allows the nonprofits’ leaders to showcase what they learned during the course. Last year’s winner – Lorielle Hollaway of Cultured Books – walked off stage with a check for $15,000. Reach St. Pete received $10,000 for coming in second, 360 Eats won $7,500 for third and Florida 1.27 took home $5,000 for the Audience Choice Award.

Coraggio also stressed the importance of a nonprofit leader’s ability to properly self-advocate, and he believes the Fast Pitch course and event help them find their voices. He added that organizations like SVP and CFTB help them use that voice to connect with community resources needed to sustain their mission.

“It’s something they’re going to take further after the event,” he said. “And be able to use as they’re having communications with different stakeholders within the community about their specific needs and causes.”

The participating nonprofits’ missions align with CFTB’s annual competitive grant cycle pillars. Many organizations receiving funding from CFTB competed in Fast Pitch – and vice versa.

“I’m so proud that we have SVP in our community, and they do make a difference,” said Coraggio. “There’s really a lot of professionals that have done well and are well established, and now they want to give back to the community.”

From left: Dr. Jesse Coraggio, senior vice president of community impact for CFTB; Kelli Casto, founder of Saving our Seniors; Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of CFTB; and Irv Cohen, chair of SVP Tampa Bay at the 2020 Fast Pitch event. Photo provided.

Hurricane Ian

While CFTB offers a competitive grant cycle, it also shares a Critical Needs List with fundholders and the public to highlight specific requests. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, it has expanded criteria to include support for local recovery efforts.

Local nonprofits can submit hurricane-related needs through October and receive unrestricted funding or specific items. Coraggio explained that CFTB is enhancing those gifts with a one-to-three match, meaning if someone donates $1,500, the organization will add $500 to the total.

“We’ve been working really hard to put together a plan,” said Coraggio. “There’s a focus there on local needs – and while we know we didn’t get the brunt of the storm; we know there’s a lot of folks in need in our community.”

For example, Coraggio noted that extensive power outages caused many area residents to throw away refrigerators and freezers full of food. He said that is a “critical” loss for the many people that live week-to-week and already struggle to afford groceries during a period of historical inflation.

The first iteration of the Critical Needs List, explained Coraggio, began during Covid. It allows nonprofits to share urgent, unexpected requirements with community philanthropists and significantly reduces the time it typically takes to receive grants. It is also non-competitive and includes requests for help with emergency repairs, increased fuel costs for mobile organizations and bedding for shelters.

Donors can contribute to specific organizations and needs through the list, or request that CFTB puts the money toward hurricane relief efforts through the tax-deductible Tampa Bay Rapid Response Fund. Coraggio said CFTB’s minimum match is $250 for a $750 contribution and increases to $5,000 for donations of $15,000 or more.

“So, we’re giving our fundholders options on how to best serve the community from their own personal patterns and perspectives,” said Coraggio.

For more information on CFTB’s hurricane relief efforts, visit the website here.

For more information on SVP Tampa Bay, visit the website here.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us:

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.