Eight finalists set for fourth Philanthropitch competition


The eight finalist nonprofits that will compete May 2 for $125,000 in grants in the fourth annual Philanthropitch fast-pitch competition were announced last week.

Philanthropitch, put on by a nonprofit of the same name and Mission Capital, is a Shark Tank-like competition in which charity groups have three minutes to pitch projects in front of a panel of judges and compete for cash prizes. This year’s finalists are: Black Fret, Bookspring, CareBox Program, Circle of Health International, Con Mi Madre, Creative Action, EcoRise Youth Innovations and Goodwill Central Texas.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be considered one of Austin’s most exciting nonprofits,” said Jillian Domingue, executive director of the CareBox Program, which provides free at-home care supplies to cancer patients in need in the Austin area.

The Philanthropitch nonprofit is run out of Dan and Lisa Graham’s charitable organization, the Notley Fund, and with this year’s cash awards the event will bring its total giving over four years to half a million dollars.

“We’re super excited about that because it’s a huge amount of money to give away, but also because the nonprofits are some of the most innovative nonprofits across Central Texas,” said Sara Levy, executive director of Philanthropitch and the Notley Fund. “From smaller, newer organizations, like Black Fret, that is trying to keep the Austin culture and music scene alive, to Goodwill, which is launching a technical and career academy.”

Five of the competing groups will also be admitted into the Mission Capital accelerator program, a business boot camp that helps nonprofits fine-tune their business proposals.

“Participating in Philanthropitch is an incredible opportunity but also gives you the potential to go on to Mission Accelerator and get that training and professional consultation on business development,” said Teresa Granillo, executive director of Con Mi Madre, which will be pitching her group’s expansion program into other cities. “There’s no amount of money you can put on that kind of support.”

For some groups, being a finalist for the event is a way to gain exposure they may not otherwise receive. They get to present their pitches in front of 400 community members, philanthropists and potential benefactors.

“That’s really an incredible opportunity in and of itself,” said Sera Bonds, CEO of Circle of Health International. “I think the ‘International’ in our title sometimes disarms people who are looking to support local work in Austin. But if they gave us an extra 15 seconds they’d realize they’d be helping the only international aid nonprofit in Austin.”

“We’ve been doing this work for 12 years in Austin,” Bonds said, “we’re really excited to tell more Austin-based people about that.”

Now the groups have two weeks to prepare their three-minute pitches.

“It’s like getting shot out of the cannon,” said Colin Kendrick, the founder of Black Fret. “It’s really hard to boil a big concept down to three minutes, so we’ve got some work to do.”



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