Why does the SPI post the projects of other organizations to our website? We write them!
We help our coalition members raise money by taking their rough ideas and packaging them professionally for donors. Then we post them here for all to see.
Would you like our help with fundraising? see the benefits to joining the coalition and submit your own project.


Overview

Why is this proposal on the Secular Policy Institute website? We wrote it! Our coalition members come to the SPI for help with packaging their ideas and presenting them to donors. We bring national level coaching, writing, and donor relations. See how your organization can join the world's largest secular coalition and submit your own project idea to get our help for your ideas, too.

Secular leaders need training to write truly world class project plans that get funded and make a difference. What's a fun and media savvy way to bring that to them?

We can take advantage of the trend in business plan competitions. These are held by business schools, by high tech companies, by chambers of commerce, and by venture capitalists to mentor potential business leaders in how to get organized. Teams come together for a weekend to trade ideas and present their plans to a panel of judges. Investors often attend to network.

Let's bring that model to a secular project plan competition. Secular leaders would attend wishing to raise money, run a high impact initiative, and make a difference. It would give our donors and secular leaders a chance to bond with each over a 3-day intensive weekend of writing, planning, and feedback.

By giving out awards and including speeches and social components, this "weekend conference" could also be a business networking event and a media event. It would be inexpensive and the intense energy and camaraderie of such an event should maximize the inspiration that donors need to feel to open their wallets.


The Challenge

A donor's worst fear is that a donation will be wasted. Although secularism is a worthy cause, many secular groups don't have the business savvy to properly make use of charitable gifts. Secular groups don't understand how to break their mission into small components that can be easily explained, serve an obvious need, create stakeholders where a donor can 'own' part of a project, and have a measurable impact.

Our lack of organizational and fundraising sophistication is the #1 problem preventing us from competing with religious groups like the Mormons who raise 1,000 more money per member than we do.


The Opportunity

A growing number of business leaders in the secular movement have the experience to follow MIT, MassChallenge, and other groups that sponsor business plan competitions. It's a fun way for teams to work with mentors and judges to learn how to plan a secular project. Then their write ups and elevator speeches compete with each other for cash and services awards. As funders like Project X and the Gates Foundation have demonstrated, making groups compete to show impact is a fantastic way to reward the best and inspire the rest.

Let's name this after whichever donor steps up with cash. Typically such competitions are called, for example, the Powerful Answers Award, which is Verizon's $10 million business plan competition intended to showcase how useful Verizon technology is to corporations. MIT has the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.


Impact

Our goals are:

  • Encourage both winners and losers of the competition to up their game
  • Spread a culture of professionalism to the management of secular projects
  • Educate secular groups about professional management
  • Spotlight the best groups, who will win our awards
  • Draw donors and volunteer judges who just need a reason to take part in our community
  • Inspire secular groups with fun events
  • Help secular groups with big ideas to meet each other and let teams take shape
  • Properly run, a business plan competition will win media attention

We need goals that are more measurable, giving specific numbers about how many secular leaders will attend, how many media impressions the event should attract, and how much donor money would be given to the winner or winners. Tacking this event onto an existing secular conference would be an easy way to start strong.


Project Plan

This project plan needs to be fleshed out, but there are so many existing business plan competitions that we can follow their model without much anxiety. There is a set way to run these things that has been proven to work. We do not need to reinvent anything. You pay the judges nothing and the secular leaders who enter pay nothing and get paid nothing. So the event is inexpensive to run, call it $5,000 for renting a space, buying food, and videography, all of which could potentially be recouped from vendors or sponsors.

If we can get donors to chip in $25,000 in prizes, great. If not, we can simply promise to put the winners onto Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website where millions of people have an opportunity to donate, at cost of $5,000 to create a video and push promotion.


Needs

This concept is not yet ready for funding and rollout. We are seeking a Secular Policy Institute coalition member, preferably one with an existing conference and an interest in business savvy, to take leadership of this project plan and flesh it out.


Contact

Organization: Looking for a Host
Contact Name: Johnny Monsarrat
Contact Email: johnny@secularpolicyinstitute.net