Charitable sector leaders learn to tell their stories in three minutes


Winnipeg is home to incredible charities doing inspiring work, and thanks to The Foundation’s Fast Pitch program, charitable sector leaders are learning to explain that impact in just three minutes.
Fast Pitch champs (left-right) – Cynthia Drebot, North End Women’s Centre; William Barr, Islamic Social Services Association; Cecilly Hildebrand, Candace House; Cheryl Martinez, Snowflake Place for Children and Youth.

In Fast Pitch, leaders from charities are partnered with coaches from the business sector, and together they develop three-minute Dragons’ Den-style pitches that tell their story – including why the organizations do what they do. The program culminates at a Showcase event, where presenters deliver their pitch in front of hundreds of people.

“There are so many great organizations with great pitches, and it’s a friendly competition,” says Cecilly Hildebrand, Executive Director of Candace House, the winner of Fast Pitch 2018’s first place grand prize grant of $10,000. “It was a stretching experience, but very rewarding.”

Fast Pitch runs for approximately two months, starting with a speed networking session where representatives from charities meet with potential coaches from the professional sector. Each presenter is then paired up with two coaches. Teams are given training in advanced storytelling and public speaking techniques to help hone their pitches. A Semi-Final competition narrows the original 15 participants down to a top 10, and they go on to the final Showcase to compete for grants valued at $20,000. As with previous years, everyone who participated in 2018 received a $1,000 grant.

“There are so many non-profits in this town that I didn’t even know about,” says Cate Friesen, who together with Dave McLeod, facilitated the Fast Pitch training. “What I love about it is the inspiration I get from the amount of time and effort people are putting in.”

The Fast Pitch 2018 Showcase took place on March 14 and for the third year in a row, there was a sell-out crowd. Three judges decided which pitch would be awarded the Grand, First Runner Up and Second Runner Up prizes, while the audience used text-to-vote to determine the People’s Choice.

Although it is a competition, Mrs. Hildebrand felt a real sense of comradery with the other nine finalists.

“I am just astounded, so often, by Winnipeg’s philanthropic community. It’s such an honor to work in

this community. The number of people who offer their support, and not just their support financially, but with their words and their encouragement, is really humbling.”

The Winnipeg Foundation is committed to building capacity within the charitable sector, and offering the Fast Pitch program is one way it does this. Jennifer Partridge, The Foundation’s Strategic Projects Associate, has organized Fast Pitch since its inception in 2016.

“The impacts of Fast Pitch are far-reaching and long-lasting – charities make great contacts in the business sector, sometimes even getting new board members,” says Ms. Partridge. “In turn, our coaches from the business sector learn a lot about the different charities in our city, as do the people who attend the Showcase. Plus, some attendees even choose to make a gift to the participating charities.”

For more information about The Winnipeg Foundation’s Fast Pitch program, visit

This story is featured in the Summer 2018 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

How would you like to start?

Give Now Start Your Own Fund Contact Us