What is SEED20?

Created by Social Venture Partners (SVP), the annual SEED20 program identifies, spotlights and supports our region’s most innovative ideas for tackling pressing social challenges.

Each year, over the course of two months, a class of twenty nonprofit participants receives training, coaching, feedback, and mentoring on how to succinctly and powerfully “tell their story.” These efforts culminate in SEED20 OnStage, a high-energy event where up to ten members of the class compete to win cash awards by making three-minute “pitches” to a panel of judges and an audience of over 900 members of our community. SEED20 OnStage includes a celebration following the presentations where the audience can interact and network with all twenty nonprofits to learn more about their mission and opportunities for support and engagement.

Social Venture Partners is a nonprofit organization passionately attacking the issue of social and economic inequality in Charlotte through venture philanthropy. Our vision is that through SEED20, the greater Charlotte area will be a community that embraces our nonprofit entrepreneurs, providing them with a supportive environment to innovate. The SEED20 program, the OnStage event, and alumni activities are all coordinated by Social Venture Partners’ staff and volunteer members.

Alumni Network

To the audience of the SEED20 OnStage event, our program might seem like one inspiring evening. But after the party is over, the checks have been cashed, and everyone has gone home, the current class of SEED20 participants become members of the SEED20 Alumni Network! All SEED20 participants are welcome in the network and can use the opportunity to find collaborators, mentors, and partners. As the steward of the Alumni Network, Social Venture Partners offers multiple sessions each year for the enrichment of the alums. These sessions address a wide variety of topics including an “Ask a Lawyer” night, tips on fundraising practices, and seminars on understanding leadership styles or Board development.

Ask a Lawyer night is a great example of alumni benefits. Seeking advice from attorneys is often intimidating and potentially expensive. The opportunity to meet with the lawyers from McGuireWoods…helped us answer many of our questions.

Dick Sesler, Camp Blue Skies, SEED20 Class of 2014

More about Social Venture Partners

Social Venture Partners is a global network of strategic philanthropists joined by passion and purpose. Social Venture Partners tackles social problems through venture philanthropy, a model of giving where its members not only provide grants, but also give their collective expertise and time to support the vital work of high-impact nonprofit organizations in Charlotte. To learn more, please visit www.socialventurepartners.org/charlotte/.


Read more about the SEED20 program and the annual SEED20 OnStage showcase.

What does SEED20 stand for?

In an effort to empower and support nonprofits tackling some of this area’s toughest problems and to contribute to the innovative, vibrant culture in our region, Social Venture Partners (SVP) created the annual SEED20 program for social entrepreneurs. SEED stands for Social Entrepreneurs EmpowereD. The “20” represents the twenty organizations or individuals who will be selected to participate.

Who is organizing SEED20?

The SEED20 program is an initiative of Social Venture Partners (SVP). SVP works in conjunction with our community sponsors to deliver this program that gives a platform to showcase the impact these game-changing social entrepreneurs are having in our region.

What will happen at SEED20 OnStage?

The event consists of up to ten inspiring three-minute presentations by some of the Charlotte region’s most innovative thinkers, a chance for community judges and the audience to select award winners from the presenters, and concludes with a networking reception where attendees can interact with the participants and each other. To see a highlight video from a past event, click here.

Who should attend SEED20 OnStage?

Anyone interested in learning about and supporting innovation in the social sector in the Charlotte region should attend SEED20 OnStage. Our event will bring together people from the business, government, academic, and nonprofit worlds who want to support the development of a social enterprise culture in our area.

Through this program and the final event, we aspire to expand the network of individuals and organizations that value innovation, accountability, and sustainability. Anyone who seeks to contribute skills, expertise, finances, and connections in ways that build a stronger, more innovative region is encouraged to attend.

How can I attend SEED20 OnStage?

SEED20 OnStage will be held in the spring of 2018 at the Knight Theater. Want to know when tickets go on sale? Click here.

Is SEED20 OnStage a fundraiser?

No. Social Venture Partners is a nonprofit organization and SEED20 is a program of Social Venture Partners. The funds from sponsor support, donations and ticket sales go to running the program, the alumni network and the cash prizes that are awarded to the nonprofit participants.

How does the program work?

The application period occurs in the fall each year. All applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee from Social Venture Partners. Based on the criteria below, the Selection Committee will invite up to twenty nonprofits to participate.

  • Potential for Sustainable Impact: Does this idea/program/organization address an important social issue? Is it already having or likely to have a significant long-term impact
  • Innovation: Is this idea/program/organization novel, unique, and entrepreneurial?

Participants will attend a Presentation Workshop in January and have approximately two weeks to prepare for the first coaching session. Participants will attend three group coaching sessions and receive one-on-one mentoring after each coaching session. This process will help them distill the key elements of their mission, approach, impact, and needs into a three-minute presentation. They will have access to valuable strategic advice and resources, and will have the opportunity to cultivate ongoing relationships.

The Selection Committee will select up to ten participants to present at SEED20 OnStage and compete for cash awards. All participants are eligible for at least one award. The presenters will have one additional coaching session before the event.

What kind of training do the participants receive?

The formal training process is approximately seven weeks and culminates in the SEED20 OnStage event in the spring. During this time, participants have access to valuable strategic advice to help them strengthen their ideas/organizations, and will have the opportunity to cultivate ongoing relationships and other resources. There are three aspects to the training program:

  • Presentation Workshop: The SEED20 class along with their coaches will participate in a workshop to learn about the key elements of an effective presentation. There will also be time for Q&A, and for explaining more details about the program.
  • Group Coaching Sessions: Participants will practice their pitch in front of a group of volunteer coaches from the community who will provide immediate feedback on their presentations.
  • Individual Coaching Sessions: Participants will be assigned a team of two or more volunteer coaches and a student ambassador who will assist them in distilling the feedback and refining their pitches into a crisp three-minute presentation. These one-on-one sessions will take place after each group coaching sessions and may also be scheduled between sessions.

What is a three-minute presentation/three-minute pitch/fast pitch?

A three-minute presentation or “fast pitch” is a high-energy, fast-moving, compelling presentation in which entrepreneurs share the mission, vision, promise and model of their idea – all in three minutes! Presenters will be trained to tell their story in a succinct, compelling, polished, and passionate way.

Why is there so much emphasis on a pitch?

Ideas become reality when they can be communicated persuasively and efficiently. We’ve all heard of the “elevator pitch” that successful professionals are expected to rattle off at a moment’s notice. We want to help innovative nonprofits hone their own pitches so they can succinctly paint a picture that best drives excitement for their ideas.