If you only had three minutes to share a compelling story about you and your cause, and you were competing with 19 other deserving organizations for a potential $120,000 investment, what story would you tell?

Welcome to the first “Fast Pitch” Social Innovation Expo, produced by Social Venture Partners Arizona. On March 2, at ASU SkySong, eight nonprofits will compete for a top prize of up to $120,000. And it all hinges on the power of a three-minute story.

Out of the more than 40 Arizona nonprofits that were nominated and applied for the event, 20 have been selected to compete.  Two rehearsal sessions (with a third on February 16) have been held at SkySong, where executive directors work with SVPAZ partners to hone their storytelling skills in front of their peers. The top eight causes with the most compelling stories will compete for the prizes, which also include $10,000 for the “Best Pitch,” and $2,500 for the “People’s Choice Award.”

I have the honor of being the master of ceremonies for this inaugural event, and I personally invite you to attend. You can direct $20 of your $60 ticket price to any Arizona school project you like through DonorsChoose.org, a website where every public school teacher can be a change-maker, and any citizen can be a philanthropist.

Charles Best, Founder & CEO of DonorsChoose.org

Our keynote speaker is Charles Best, the Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org.  The New York Times profiled DonorsChoose as “the future of philanthropy.” Fortune Magazine featured Charles in the “40 under 40” list of “business’ hottest rising stars” in 2009 and 2010.

SVPAZ takes a venture capital approach to philanthropy.

We invest in start-up and emerging nonprofits that focus on children. Our partners give more than just money. We volunteer our time as attorneys, accountants, marketers, administrators and other professional services providers to help build operational capacity within charities. SVPAZ is where nonprofits profit.