Founded in 2011, Venture For America (VFA) is a national nonprofit fellowship program for recent college graduates who want to learn how to build businesses, create opportunities, and become entrepreneurs. Through their stated mission, Venture For America is creating economic opportunity in American cities by mobilizing the next generation of entrepreneurs and equipping them with the skills and resources they need to create jobs.
Venture for America was founded on a promise to serve as an economic booster for communities and cities across the U.S. Now in its tenth year, VFA has evolved into a venerable force for talent and new business acceleration and is poised to tell its story in new ways, reach new audiences, and dramatically expand its community of funders and champions by increasing its capacity to attract and secure philanthropic support.
The goal of S&W’s partnership with Venture for America was to help position them for a significant scale in fundraising by conducting an assessment and make recommendations for their leadership, staff structure, operations, prospect potential and communications approaches and language. Additionally, S&W provided VFA with a capsule case for support and 18-month comprehensive digital communications calendar as foundational elements of their philanthropic communications program.
Deepening the Commitment
S&W’s rich history of success in fundraising and fundraising consulting made us the ideal partner for Venture for America.
When S&W engaged with Venture for America, they were in the midst of a search for their next CEO and in the beginning stages of strategic planning. They had several key issues facing the organization, to include the following:
- VFA’s catalytic and sustaining supporters were mainly foundation and corporate funders; many cultivated through their founder who was no longer involved.
- VFA’s donor community being so shallow put them in a vulnerable position; they needed to begin broadening and diversifying their donor base, most especially by engaging individual donors.
- VFA had a healthy universe of ambassadors and evangelists who could be activated and leveraged more broadly.
- VFA needed to ensure their staff, systems, trainings, communications program, and technologies were in place to support a broader fundraising program, reaching all donor audiences at all levels.
S&W made a series of recommendations for Venture for America around engaging and aligning their paid and volunteer leadership, offered a new staff structure with job scope descriptions for all roles and a three-year horizon for ramp-up, offered a number of improvements in Development operations, reporting, and technology, screened their available prospect data and made engagement recommendations, and developed a suite of new communications assets, to include: a new capsule case for support, grant language, and a full-scale digital communications strategy complete with approaches organized by key prospect audiences.