Sign up (today!) for Summer Purpose Challenge to connect with community in a new way

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This summer, United Way for Greater Austin and Verb have teamed up to host a free leadership program benefitting local Austin nonprofits called the Summer Purpose Challenge.

The program is a free, five-week program that pairs nonprofit and for-profit professionals into teams. These teams will compete to craft compelling stories and strategic pitches to rally stakeholders, funders, and the community at large behind their causes.

Participants must sign up by July 25th. Using Verb’s “pitch deck” learning track, teams will complete different activities to improve the nonprofit’s pitch. Teams can choose how, when and where they meet over the course of the program — in-person or virtually, weekly or biweekly.

Teams will upload their pitch deck for judging by local Austin social impact leaders and will celebrate together at the Party for Purpose in mid-September.

We wanted to learn more about the Summer Purpose Challenge and reached out to Laura Broderick, Chief Marketing Officer, Verb, for more information.

Tell me more about Verb.

Laura-Broderick Verb

Broderick: We focus on developing purpose-driven leaders from the corporate and the nonprofit sectors with a platform we’ve developed that helps build the essential personal leadership skills they need to succeed.

Who can benefit most from joining Verb?

Broderick: Companies with 250 employees have a growing population of millennials and new managers. We know from studies that millennials comprise about 50% of the workforce and that 70 percent of those seek purpose and meaning in their jobs. They really want to have an authentic experience at the workplace and crave social impact opportunities.

Also, their employers are looking for talent development opportunities for people working in customer service, sales and product roles. These managers typically work behind a desk or on the phone and are interested in a more on-demand leadership training.

How does that relationship help develop leadership skills?

Broderick: Our platform offers a way to engage their employees in more active learning that helps them develop those soft leadership skills that often go overlooked, like giving and receiving feedback, effective communication, motivating others, building empathy and other interpersonal skills that are critical to success.

We also help our social impact users focus on design thinking and innovation, which can help them think about how they tackle some of the social problems they’re trying to solve. A third piece is around strategic thinking, and this is where building a pitch deck comes in. It helps them tap into a deeper understanding of the problem they’re tackling.

How is that relationship developed?

Broderick: The corporate employees sign up through their company, and they’re matched with one of our social impact organizations. Both sides are developing skills and end up with key takeaways, but we also make sure nonprofit and social impact participants can get access to the resources that traditional entrepreneurs do. In general, our social impact organizations are global with about 60% of our 5,000 social entrepreneurs outside of the United States. So they also get access to corporate employees to help them practice their story and build a network beyond those they could reach on their own.

So how does the Summer Purpose Challenge work?

Broderick: Summer Purpose project is specific to Austin and it’s free. It’s a way to amplify social impact in Austin and help develop deeper connections with rising leaders at Austin companies.

It’s a 5-week program that officially launched a week and a half ago, but the first deadline is tomorrow night, so we want to continue to push sign-ups until then.

When someone signs up, first they meet with the partner or teammate. The team then works together to decide when, how and how often to meet. It’s a 5-week guided curriculum that makes it really easy for them to work together. Each time they meet they work on an eight-page slide presentation using activities to help them build the message of the nonprofit. At the end of the session, we’ll gather at the Party for a Purpose on September 14 to celebrate all the participants and recognize the top teams.

What will participants gain from building these decks?

Broderick: A lot of the participants are not necessarily the executive director of the nonprofit; they might be responsible for fundraising, marketing or finances. So the program gives them an opportunity to create an emotional, storytelling pitch for the nonprofit they work for. It also can give the nonprofit great insight as to how its employees are describing the organization.

I think it’ll be interesting to see the different vantage points based on the role they play at the organization. Then they can use that deck or elements of that deck for fundraising or as a training mechanism for their nonprofit.

Corporate participants come to the project with a general understanding of how nonprofits work, but it may be hard for them to know how to get engaged. This project will lower the barriers for them. They’ll see that nonprofit professionals are not that different from them, but perhaps more limited in accessing resources. For example, one of the folks who signed up for the challenge is a social media maverick. He’s never worked at a nonprofit, but his perspective and skills can be really helpful to them. He may not even realize that his skills are valuable outside of a corporate work environment.

It can be hard sometimes for people to take the first steps to form those relationships with nonprofits, but this is another easy way for them to get insight into how they might work with them.

What would make you consider this project a success?

Broderick: This is our first time, and we want to keep doing it. We just want to see the energy and connections that form among the participants, and capture their stories with the goal of helping more people become active in the Austin community.

How to sign up: The deadline for signing up is Tuesday, July 25. Learn more and sign up here.

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