Developing Purpose-Driven Leaders through the Summer Purpose Challenge
At Verb, we are passionate about building communities that foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and doing good. This summer we partnered with United Way for Greater Austin to put on the Summer Purpose Challenge which brought together 107 local nonprofit leaders and Austin professionals to create strategic pitch decks. The Challenge helped participants build the skills they need to be an impactful leader in the Austin community. Collectively, teams spent nearly 250 hours on Verb’s talent development platform learning how to effectively communicate the nonprofit’s mission and business model.
Building a Thriving Community of Leaders in Austin
For many nonprofit leaders, their pitch deck is their way to tell their story to potential donors, new volunteers, and community members. It helps them inspire others to care about their cause. A good pitch deck can be the key to fundraising thousands of dollars for an organization while a bad pitch deck can lead to low morale and a lack of funding. Nonprofit leaders who participated in the Summer Purpose Challenge were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with Austin professionals and get a fresh perspective on their pitch.
Over the course of the 5-week program, teams of nonprofit leaders and Austin professionals worked together on the pitch deck course on Verb. The online course walked them through different activities that helped them create a compelling narrative about their nonprofit.
Jordan Shack, a research associate from GLG, explains his skill growth through the Verb curriculum: “The skill I gained and used the most was critical thinking. Both in the opportunities when I was meeting with my partner and on my own – working in the background – learning different things through the challenges they would give us every week. I think it was a good opportunity to learn and read up on new things.”
Hearing New Perspectives Perfects Pitches
At our mid-week meet up held halfway through the leadership program, teams discussed the amount of work they had already done and enthusiastically plotted for the weeks ahead. The Challenge gives rising leaders in Austin the chance to network with people they might not ever meet inside their bubbles. “It’s refreshing to work with people outside of the nonprofit world. It helps us to be more clear with our mission and lose jargon,” Deirdre Anderson, Director of Development at the Jeremiah Program, stated.
Dawn Mann, a nonprofit leader from Dance Another World, worked with three women from GLG. She was amazed by the perspective she gained from working with her team. “It is great to learn from the corporate side. They taught us about impact investment. I wouldn’t have even known that was a thing,” Dawn shared.
Developing Purpose-Driven Austin Leaders
Nonprofit leaders were not the only ones who benefited from the challenge though. Austin professionals expressed incredible enthusiasm when asked about their Challenge experience. Jay Reyna, a Financial Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, thoroughly enjoyed his partnership with Amy from Upbring: “Corporate companies need more activities that offer the opportunity to give back and this was super easy.”
Many companies are looking for ways to develop leaders that are not only competent managers, but are inspiring leaders who genuinely care about the community they work in. The Summer Purpose Challenge was a great way for companies like HP, GLG, HomeAway, and Facebook to give their employees a chance to use their abilities to help a nonprofit while also developing their own leadership skills.
By the end of the program, nonprofit leaders and Austin professionals alike improved on many leadership skills. Participants’ confidence in creating a pitch deck increased by 33%. Additionally, nonprofit leaders and professionals communicated an increase in confidence when collaborating on pitch decks and pitching ideas. The challenge was a great way for mentors and social impact organizations to sharpen their communication and mentorship skills while making an impact.
Celebrating at Party for Purpose
The Summer Purpose Challenge culminated on September 14 with the Party for Purpose. The event brought together the teams to celebrate the completion of the program. Over 20 teams submitted their final pitch decks for review.
At Party for Purpose, five top teams were recognized and offered the opportunity to present their pitch: Austin Symphony Orchestra, 1PlanetSol, Upbring, Dance Another World, and Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas. All of the teams were able to share their stories with other Summer Purpose Challenge participants and Party for Purpose attendees.
Participants exchanged contact information and pledged to stay in touch. Nonprofits and Austin professionals alike expressed their gratitude for the experience and the ability to collaborate with leaders outside of their immediate networks.
More than anything though, Austin professionals were able to make an immense social impact as their insight was invaluable to nonprofit leaders. Holly, a nonprofit leader from SpaceStream communicated the value of the program to her organization, “Great partnership. We have completely changed our messaging based on [Spencer Ingram’s] advice. Tested it at NASA this week. It went great!”