Pitch Your Peers: Joining Together for Greater Impact in Seattle

“Our motto is ‘Together, we can do more’​ and we all truly felt this when we were able to hand over such a large check to Summer Search! Alone, nobody in the group could have made this impact. Our members are all motivated, smart, and accomplished women who all want to help make our community better.”

That was Erin Krawiec speaking about her organization called Pitch Your Peers (or PYP, pronounced “pipe”), which she cofounded in Seattle with fellow philanthropist Aly Burks. At a PYP event in December, they presented Summer Search Seattle with a $25,000 grant — a very large check indeed!

PYP’s mission is to “engage women in philanthropy and to collectively fund grants to charitable initiatives that serve this region. The goal is to identify unmet needs in the community and provide grants to nonprofits for impactful change in King County.” PYP members select local charities to support, and “pitch” those organizations to the rest of the group. Thanks to a passionate pitch by Robyn Hsu, Summer Search Seattle board member, we were chosen to receive PYP’s inaugural donation!

We caught up with Erin Krawiec who gave us a closer look into her unique organization and how this group of women is joining together for greater impact.

Q: What is the motivation for starting the group in Seattle?

​A little over a year ago, Aly Burks and I were talking about how we both wanted to do something that would impact the King County community in a meaningful way. We wanted to do something that was social, engaging, and fun! Aly was following her longtime friend Nina Lindia on Facebook and saw that Nina had launched Pitch Your Peers in Greenwich, Connecticut. As Aly and I talked more about it, we both got inspired about doing something similar here in Seattle. As luck would have it, shortly after this, Nina came out to visit Seattle and the three of us met. Nina was thrilled that we wanted to do something similar and she offered us the opportunity to launch the King County chapter of PYP.

Q: Can you tell us more about the process of getting to know organizations after they are pitched?

The PYP “Grant Champions” — the PYP members who step forward to pitch their favorite local nonprofits to our group — arrange for the group to meet their selected charity more intimately during the three week follow-up period after our Pitch Night and before voting takes place. These meetings can be wine and cheese meet-and-greets with charity employees and/or board members, charity headquarters tours, boardroom lunch meetings, special events hosted by the charities, or opportunities to meet those who benefit from the charity.

Q: What do you think stood out to members about Summer Search that helped our organization rise to the top?

We think our members were impressed with several things about Summer Search.  First, they liked the concept of what Summer Search offers to students and how it can alter the path of these students’ lives and potentially alter the lives of generations of people coming behind them. They liked the idea that the grant money would directly go to offering more students the opportunity to join Summer Search. Our $25,000 grant will allow Summer Search Seattle to include six additional students in their program.

I think we all felt that Robyn Hsu’s (Summer Search ​Seattle board member) passion was contagious! ​Those who met the Summer Search employees at the follow-up sessions were also very impressed — the​ staff is so dedicated and passionate about what they are doing!

Q: This was your inaugural year of PYP in Seattle. What did you learn from this experience?

We ​learned so much during our first year! The biggest learning was how valuable the opportunity to meet the charities in person was to our members. Those who took advantage of these opportunities gained such a deep understanding of the charities’ challenges, obstacles and successes and with that understanding came a deeper affinity for those charities and their missions.

The best part of the experience was sharing the journey with our friends: having like-minded women with whom to discuss and weigh out the virtues of the charities and having friends to support the charities with (sharing tables at auctions, attending functions together, etc.).

The most surprising thing was how torn we all were when deciding which charity to vote for because most of us found all three charities pitched to us to be so compelling.

Q: Your group is based on relationships and joining together for a greater impact, which is similar to the Summer Search model. Why do these types of relationships matter to PYP?

Our motto is “Together, we can do more,”​ and we all truly felt this when we were able to hand over such a large check to Summer Search! Alone, nobody in the group could have made this impact. Our members are all motivated, smart, and accomplished women who all want to help make our community better. Each member truly valued the opportunity to meet, network, and socialize with this group of women and many strong friendships and productive relationships have been forged.

Q: How many people are in the Seattle PYP group?

For the 2017 grant cycle, we had 27 members. Most of those members will be returning for 2018 and many will be inviting a friend to join, so we’ll likely grow to between 40 and ​55 members!

Q: What can philanthropically-minded friend groups in other regions do to replicate what you’ve done?

We’d encourage friend groups in other regions to get in contact with us and/or the Greenwich founders to learn more about starting their own PYP chapter. The benefit of starting a PYP chapter instead of starting a new organization from scratch is that all of the legal and administrative work to get set up as a 501(c)3 has already been done and paid for, plus the branding, website, and accounting systems have already been created! In addition, as the PYP network of chapters grows, each chapter can share and learn from each other.