Nonprofits to Pitch Ideas for GiVE 365 Grants

By Don Wade

Three minutes to make their best pitch. That’s what the finalists will have Monday night, Aug. 18, when they compete for Community Foundation of Greater Memphis GiVE 365 grants.

“It’s by far the most important event we have,” said Ashley Harper, director of grants and initiatives at the foundation. “And it’s high energy because we’re strict about those three minutes.”

Here’s how it works: From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper St., nonprofits working on a project or program to benefit the community will have 180 seconds to make an impression on GiVE 365 members, who will then vote on the winners for a total of $62,600 in grants.

The process started with 45 applicants, and Harper said that “no more than 15” would compete in the finals. The theme for this year’s grants, as voted on by GiVE 365 members, is “Collaboration for Change: partnerships that support innovative problem-solving in the community.”

Formed in 2010, GiVE 365 membership stands at 250 people and is comprised of individuals, couples, families and businesses. Members donate $365 a year, pool their money with others and vote on the annual grant-making theme and the grant recipients.

The first year, a man from England won a $7,000 grant for what he called “Splinter Youth,” a mobile skateboard ramp and trailer to be taken around to urban neighborhoods.

“It was an idea that was unique,” Harper said. “He was very unassuming but passionate about what he could do for kids. He wanted to create a positive athletic outlet for kids who maybe weren’t going to be on the basketball team but still wanted to be part of a peer group.”

Other successful pitches have included Neighborhood Christian Centers receiving $2,500 in 2010 for a theater in the parks program and $5,000 in 2012 for a technical theater program for high school students; in 2013, the Carpenter Art Garden in Binghampton received a grant for more than $9,600 to restore a blighted property and make it into an art and gardening center for kids. In that case, a young girl helped make the case during the 3-minute pitch.

“The pitch is not the only thing members have to go on,” Harper said. “They also have a full written application.”

The finals on Aug. 18 are for GiVE 365 members only and not open to the general public. Members will vote online, and this year’s grants will be announced Sept. 11.

Harper said the GiVE 365 finals each year are valuable even for those competitors that ultimately fall short of winning a grant.

“Whether they’re awarded a grant or not, it’s still exposure to prospective donors and volunteers,” Harper said.