On Friday, Sept. 22, the fourth floor of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center was overtaken by a group of sharply dressed, silver tongued masters intent on winning the Third Annual Pitch.Click.Give. competition.
The brainchild of former American Marketing Association (AMA) Alaska Chapter President Ross Johnston, Pitch.Click.Give. partners teams of professional marketers with Alaskan non-profits. Together, the randomly selected teams are tasked with creating a comprehensive marketing plan and effectively pitching it in front of a panel of distinguished judges.
The catch is, each team is only given two hours to create their plan and an additional five minutes to pitch it. With eight teams competing for two prize packages totaling $85,000 of in-kind marketing services, the stakes for the non-profits are high.
“Often times, non-profits are trying to accomplish huge initiatives in our community without a dedicated marketing professional, or budget to speak of. In year one when we were meeting with the first group of non-profits, the majority had said that they have zero dollars in their budget for marketing and no idea where to even start,” said AMA Alaska board member and owner of Toast of the Town, Carrie Shepard. “I think we realized really early on how impactful this event could be for these non-profits.”
As the prize packages have increased from $10,000 to $85,000 in just three years, it is clear that the significance of Pitch.Click.Give. has resonated with within the marketing community, which is exactly what Johnston hoped would happen.
“My whole purpose as the AMA Alaska President was to create a community for marketers and I thought Pitch.Click.Give. would be a perfect way to bring people together to do something of significance,” explained Johnston. “Ultimately, I think the event’s success is one of those things where the right idea was pitched to the right people at the right time.”
The right people included former Pick.Click.Give. Director Jason Grenn who helped Johnston refine and pitch his idea in 2015. It wasn’t long before the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Alaska Chapter and the AMA Alaska Chapter jumped on board.
“Philanthropy is a great word,” exclaimed AFP Alaska Chapter President-Elect Harry Need. “It comes from the Ancient Greek ‘philo’ and ‘anthropos’ which literally means the love of humankind - how could you not support something like that? But because all philanthropy is a relationship based on love, it is also necessarily predicated on trust. You are trusting someone, you are trusting an organization when you donate, which is why we wanted to be involved. We wanted to ensure the event’s success by sharing our ethical and effective fundraising practices.”
For this year’s winning non-profit, Volunteers of America Alaska Chapter, the in-kind marketing services and advice on how to be most effective are invaluable.
“We get calls all the time from people asking how to volunteer with different non-profits in Alaska,” lamented Vice President of Development Nicki Shinners. “Our name is a little bit of a misnomer because it makes people think we facilitate volunteerism, when what we really do in Alaska is a combination of helping adolescents overcome substance addiction, increasing efforts to provide affordable housing in Alaska and working to reduce recidivism among low-risk, first-time juvenile offenders in Anchorage. With the services our organization just won, we are going to work on implementing a brand awareness campaign so Alaskans know more about who we are and what we do. I think if people knew more about our organization, they would want to donate and get involved.”
As with any give and take, the non-profits weren’t the only ones who received something of immense value from the event.
In the most impassioned pitch of the day, Credit Union 1 Communications Specialist Sharita Napper conveyed a personal story about her daughter, to illustrate the impact her assigned non-profit has on the community.
“I was disheartened to hear that little girls start to lose confidence at age 6! I think about my daughter who is only two and is so proud of who she is as a person – I think about how in four years she’s going to start looking to male peers for leadership and it makes me sad. As an adult, I often find myself lacking confidence but I don’t want my daughter to experience that. I want her to be strong, independent and courageous. That’s what a donation to the Girl Scouts of Alaska can do,” Napper said with tears in her eyes.
For Napper, getting involved in the event reinvigorated her philanthropic spirit and opened her eyes to organizations she had never heard of before.
“The best part of this event was learning more about these non-profits and networking with other likeminded people,” Napper said. “We can make such a major difference in the worlds of these non-profits and give back to those who do so much to make our community better.”