Like many in the community, Nina Lindia was feeling overwhelmed by the number of fundraisers and charities to which she was asked to donate and volunteer.
“We’re always getting requests for everyone’s charities,” she said.
Brooke Bohnsack, her partner is a new giving venture, nodded in agreement.
“Every weekend there’s some big fundraiser,” Bohnsack said.
The two women were sitting at a table Monday in the Riverside Commons Starbucks discussing Pitch Your Peers, or PYP, the organization they created to give back to the community in a more focused, well-informed way.
Membership for the organization costs $1,000 annually, money that funnels directly to one charity at the end of the year. The organization’s members, currently about 20, will compete for the charity of their choice in a round of pitches at the beginning of August.
Bohnsack, a board member for the Junior League and the YWCA of Greenwich, said she calculated there are more than 800 nonprofit service organizations in Greenwich alone.
The problem with being pulled every which way, the women explained, is that people know little and give little.
“It’s like ‘I’m not giving a huge amount because I’m not asking the huge questions,’” said Lindia.
“‘Where’s it going?’ ‘Who’s it benefiting?’ ‘How much is going to the overhead?’ In PYP, all these questions are answered,” she said.
“Sometimes the membership is so big, you feel lost,” said Bohnsack about some of the larger organizations in the area.
Unsatisfied with the current climate of giving, Lindia and Bohnsack decided they could push themselves and the other philanthropic women around them to do better.
“Why don’t we ask more from each other?” said Lindia.
With Lindia’s background in marketing for Kaplan Test Prep, and Bohnsack’s extensive resume of local charity involvement and event planning experience, they, along with Dara Johnson, finance chair, and Rachael LeMasters, grants chair, founded Pitch Your Peers.
Different members of PYP will choose a local charity, research that charity and make a pitch for why that charity should receive the PYP pot of money. The founders said they are hoping to have 25 members before the organization’s official launch on Feb. 25 so they can give a $25,000 donation to the winning charity at the end of the year.
“We’re trying to make a mark in a local charity. This could be life-changing,” said Lindia about the $25,000 goal donation.
Lindia and Bohnsack said the model adds an important, educational component to the giving. Not only will pooling funds have a great impact on one nonprofit, but members will have a chance to learn more about the charities through the pitching round.
“Even if you lose, you still win,” said Lindia, because the members will still have learned about an area of need in Greenwich they might not have known about.
“This is going to help our neighbors. Many people think if you live in Greenwich that it’s all uber wealthy, but there’s a lot of hard facts out there that say otherwise,” said Bohnsack.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of ‘What? I didn’t know that!’” said Lindia.
She said she’s also looking forward to seeing more women pitch with confidence.
“(This is) teaching women to stop saying ‘Sorry, can I? — Sorry.’ … To stop apologizing for what you want, and know how to argue for something,” she said.
Those interested in getting involved can send an e-mail to [email protected].