Archive | March, 2012

Why You’ll Be In Business Next Year – 2 for 1 deal on first workshop

27 Mar

Catchafire is proud to be an outreach partner with The Social Innovators Collective for their upcoming workshop series. The series starts next Tuesday, April 3rd at General Assembly and, to kick off the event, The Social Innovators Collective is offering a “two for the price of one” deal. Here’s the skinny:

The evening begins at 6:30 with “What Nonprofits Need to Know to Survive” taught by Matthew Klein, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Foundation. During this 90-minute class, Matthew will share critical insights from his many years working with nonprofit organizations.

Then at 8:00pm Andrew Greenblatt, Founder and President of Vendorboon, follows with “Identifying A Winning Business Model and Revenue Stream.” Andrew will unveil key information and pose essential questions you need to answer in order to best position your enterprise for success.

The series was created to address the question: Why are so many startup social enterprises and nonprofit organizations failing? This workshop offers not only answers, but solutions.

For information and tickets (series/single):


– Tuesday, April 3 – Why You’ll Be In Business Next Year

6:30 – 8pm: What Nonprofits Need to Know To Survive

8:00 – 9:30pm: Identifying a Winning Business Model and Revenue Stream

Tuesday, April 10th – How to Run a World-Class Organization: One Day at a Time

– Tuesday, April 17th – The Art of Business Development + Partnerships

– Tuesady, April 24thEssentials of Operational Finance for Your Organization to Thrive

The above workshops will be taught by Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Foundation and NYC adjunct professor; Andrew Greenblatt, President of Vendorboon and NYC adjunct professor; Aria Finger, COO of Do Something and NYC adjunct professor; Anand McGowan, Head of Business Development at General Assembly and Susan Hepner, CEO of accounting firm Raffa PC.

  • The series is designed as a whole, but you can also sign up for individual classes
  • 20% Discount Code: PARTNER
  • Class Format: Each class will have a 45-60 minute presentation that will be followed by a short break, an interactive exercise and finally Q&A. Networking from 9:30 -10pm will follow.


  • A checklist of what a founder needs to best ensure success
  • Ten reasons why non-profits and social enterprise organizations fail
  • For the large number of organizations and companies that fail, how could the founder have stopped the organization’s impending demise
  • A practical checklist that anyone can use to make sure their organization is on the right track
  • Tools to help guide founders in planning and articulating their organizations’ value
  • Insight into how funders evaluate early stage social enterprises and nonprofits
  • A new network of social-venture savvy peers committed to leading healthy social enterprises and nonprofit organizations
  • Case studies on a great turn-around efforts
  • Access to industry leaders who are committed to the financial health of up-and-coming social good organizations

Outreach partners:

Series Producer

The Social Innovators Collective is an international network of emerging founders, leaders and individuals who work in the social enterprise and nonprofit sectors. The Collective was born in 2010 when a handful of New York-based social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders realized that they were dealing with strikingly similar challenges, and that by leveraging our collective resources and insights they could overcome those challenges. Currently, they connect through an online forum, workshops, social events and Mastermind Sessions (peer to peer mentoring). The story of how they began was featured in NextBillion – last December.


Catchafire’s Secret Sauce

16 Mar

In Chris’s previous blog entry he let the cat out of the bag:

It’s one thing to learn about mission and vision and to buy into the purpose of it all. It’s quite another to learn about the secret sauce making it all happen in practice. Though, in this case, the sauce isn’t so secret – It’s available front and center for all to see on

In today’s post Chris proudly holds the cat up for all to see:


The time had come to pick up the phone, get on the horn, and do a couple of mock calls to promote Catchafire’s service. Armed with a Snicker’s bar and two days of intensive schooling from Thomas, I felt prepared. We’d spent many hours discussing Catchafire’s vision and mission, and discussing how to discuss it! It was time to have this conversation with another person engaged on the other end of the telephone.

Building Community

I’m still new to Catchafire’s culture, but already I feel incredibly comfortable communicating it to others. This is thanks to the training and interaction with my more experienced colleagues have enabled my smooth transition into the team. I know it’s not easy when a new team member causes minor interruptions to everyone’s routine but I have felt nothing but support in my first three days on the job. I’m eager to do well and start contributing. I know that all of the prep will pay off, though I’m excited to start learning by doing.

The first two practice calls went well. By “went well,” I mean that each call allowed me to solidify shaky points in my training, and helped me to learn where I could direct more focus so I could more clearly communicate the Catchafire value proposition to potential new members. Spending time with Catchafire literature and talking to colleagues has helped me form a clearer understanding of the simple power of Catchafire’s vision and how that vision is buttressed by current technological and social trends. We are social beings – constantly communicating and developing tools to communicate.  Technology is making our lives simpler by reducing the time it takes for us to communicate.  Catchafire has found a great way to leverage the power of communications technology; to help individuals to use their skills and talents; to connect organizations that need to build capacity to individual passions that are searching for a meaningful outlet.

 The Secret Sauce

It’s become so commonplace; we sometimes forget the source of power inherent in networked technologies: information and its sources have become transparent (especially when thinking back 20, 30, 40 years ago). We turn on our computers, log onto the Internet, visit Google’s homepage, enter some words and phrases, and are directed to information sources that will satisfy our curiosity or enhance our interests. Catchafire applies the same kind of algorithmic efficiency and power to helping nonprofit and social enterprises recruit passionate and talented to help their cause. This tool allows fewer people to do more. It also allows the increase in output to maintain a high quality. Instead of sacrificing quality for quantity, quantity actually supports quality, with an ever-growing community of professionals and organizations benefiting from its own collection of various skills, talents, and passions.

What’s ahead?

I am looking forward to my first full week of work! I begin to meet my first Catchafire community members this Wednesday and I can’t wait. Every nonprofit, and every social enterprise with an internet connection is a Catchafire community member, they just don’t know it yet! I like to think big, a quality I am eager to introduce to the team in the weeks and months ahead – I already know that I’m in an environment filled with big thinkers. Google’s goal is to make the world’s information available and useful to everyone. Catchafire’s goal is to make the world’s passions available and useful to everyone. That’s the thought that will motivate me in the next week ahead – and beyond.

Catchafire’s Living Breathing Product

12 Mar

Read on for the second installment in a week long blog series from Chris Chevaz, one of Catchafire’s newest Service Officers. After each day of intensive training, Chris unravels this thoughts and share’s his insights. After his second day in training, Chris brought our product to life…

Day 2

Today we delved into the meat and potatoes of Catchafire’s platform, value, and culture. It’s one thing to learn about mission and vision and to buy into the purpose of it all. It’s quite another to learn about the secret sauce making it all happen in practice. Though, in this case, the sauce isn’t so secret – It’s available front and center for all to see on

Project Menu

This is the center of it all – the so called secret sauce. With over 40+ projects on offer, it can be an overwhelming resource to communicate and to digest. Like a guest with good table manners, however, Catchafire breaks up each project into bite size pieces, making the incredible value of the Catchafire service easy to process, and easy to articulate.

The menu is a resource explaining how Catchafire pro-bono professionals can direct their passions in a laser like focus to help organizations and illustrates to members the kind of systematic approach that will ensure a project is delivered with timely passion.

To have access to this menu, Catchafire asks organizations to make a membership investment.  This small investment helps to promote accountability among our members and ensures that a strong sincerity of purpose is communicated to our pro bono professionals. This ensures that Catchafire makes a high quality match between organizations and pro-bono professionals. In addition, it rewards organizations that are willing to think strategically about the scarce resources they have to invest. In the end, the Catchafire culture is not only about setting goals but also about accomplishing goals. This is crucial to transforming a mission in the service of a cause into an executable plan of action.

Catchafire Consultants

As part of day two in training, I sat in on a session explaining Catchafire account management. New members benefit greatly from the work put in by the accounts staff whose number one priority is to steward successful matches and provide feedback to member organizations and their pro bono pros.

I left the hour-long session with two major take-aways: The first was to “keep it real” – a saying that grounds what I do to a commitment to maintain the quality and integrity of the Catchafire community.  We only want to work with organizations and pro-bono professionals who are committed to the social good sector.  The second take-away was an emphasis on being proactive. Why wait? The Catchafire culture is one that seeks to shed light on circumstances; to be curious; to probe and always learn; and use the entire range of resources available at any given time.

I know I will continue to learn loads and will have fun in the process. I feel challenged by my new role and look forward to getting to it.


Chris Chavez is a Service Officer at Catchafire. Prior to joining Catchafire, Chris worked with the Fiver Children’s Foundation supervising communications, development, and programming projects to inspire at-risk children to make positive life choices. Chris holds a degree in International Relations from Vesalius College at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and an M.Litt in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.

A Fresh Perspective on Catchafire and its Social Mission

6 Mar

We’re pleased to welcome Chris Chavez as the newest member of our team. Chris joined Catchafire last week and is busy training as a Service Officer. He took the initiative and poured his thoughts out in an email to the team after his first day. Realizing the value of his insights – to everyone in the Catchafire community – Chris goes home each evening to ponder the day and share some of his take aways. Here’s Day One’s Reflections:

Day One

What a day!  After an incredible first day at Catchafire, I had a great night explaining my role to members of the YNPN-NYC (Young Non-Profit Professionals of New York City) board over dinner. It was the perfect way to reflect on the day’s training points. Teaching – or in this case explaining – definitely works to crystallize knowledge gained. One board member is at an organization benefiting from a Catchafire membership. She spoke so enthusiastically and positively. It was the icing on the cake of my first day!

The Catchafire Culture

I love the collaborative and iterative style of Catchafire’s culture. I work best when I am empowered to make bold decisions and think big. Today’s training really connected me to Catchafire vision and mission – the history lesson of Catchafire’s origins was incredibly informative and will serve me well in my role as a Service Officer communicating Catchafire’s value to organizations. Paraphrasing something that Rachael and Thomas both touched on: the value in Catchafire’s service is that our organization builds on three pillars: commitment, quality, and the follow-through of a match with a talented pro bono professional. In conversation with Thomas, I also liked what I heard about the Catchafire community and the importance of providing for the needs of nonprofit organizations. To a potential new member, “Our goal to help your organization build capacity but, as a member of the Catchafire community, you have the opportunity to build lasting, meaningful relationships with like-minded orgs and individuals.”

Brainstorming and Finding my Bearings

The meta-conversations about vision, mission, personality, and pitch are solidifying my understanding of a Service Officer’s role. In addition to providing sound advice and a quality product, it’s important to communicate Catchafire’s mission – to provide a rising tide that will lift all social good boats… a way to improve and supercharge the social good sector by making volunteerism something that is normal, enjoyable, effective, impactful, infectious.

I’m ready to start failing… and more importantly to start succeeding at everything I’ve learned thus far. I’m also bursting with ideas to share with team. It’s going to be fantastically fun.


Chris Chavez is a Service Officer at Catchafire. Prior to joining Catchafire, Chris worked with the Fiver Children’s Foundation supervising communications, development, and programming projects to inspire at-risk children to make positive life choices. Chris holds a degree in International Relations from Vesalius College at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and an M.Litt in International Relations from the University of St Andrews.  

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