Peek Inside the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator Kickoff - Fast Forward

January 25, 2023 | Growth Accelerator

Peek Inside the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator Kickoff

On a brisk night in December, eight of the world’s brightest tech nonprofit founders gathered around a campfire nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The campfire song of choice? A ChatGPT-generated song about tech nonprofits to the tune of ‘This Land is Your Land.’ And yes, we sang it. 

We’re describing a scene from the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator Kickoff. Across three days, the Growth Accelerator cohort forged connections, built community, and engaged in learning to supercharge their high-growth tech nonprofits. The cherry on top? The founders met with key partners of the Growth Accelerator at a dinner to be remembered. Read on for all the details (we know you want them!).

“It was incredible to finally be part of a cohort of peers with organizations at similar stages. We really needed this structured way to collaborate.”

– Fast Forward Growth Accelerator Cohort Member

In case you need a refresher, we launched the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator to level up the highest-impact tech nonprofits out there. The initiative is matching these leading organizations with bold philanthropists, and is providing each organization tailored support to help them reach unprecedented impact. The Growth Accelerator Kickoff marked the start of an 18-month journey to solve our world’s most entrenched problems. And here’s a little spoiler – the cohort found it deeply impactful, with one member sharing: “It was incredible to finally be part of a cohort of peers with organizations at similar stages. We really needed this structured way to collaborate.”

The founders of TalkingPoints, CommonLit, and Quill hang out at the Growth Accelerator Kickoff | Michelle Nguyen

The Growth Accelerator Kickoff created space for the cohort to connect. While hot toddies and tea by the campfire did a lot of the heavy lifting, we were eager to bring in Mo Fathelbab, a seasoned peer facilitator and President of Forum Resources Network. Mo worked his magic, taking the cohort through a day-long peer forum. As the founders connected over their shared experience of leading a high-growth tech nonprofit, they laid the groundwork for a supportive space to develop as leaders. 

Mo wasn’t the only expert the cohort had the unique opportunity to learn from. Day two of the Growth Accelerator Kickoff featured an in-depth training with fundraising pro Nick Fellers, the co-founder of For Impact. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill fundraising training. He focused specifically on the needs of these high-growth tech nonprofit founders – like building out fundraising teams, reaching the right funders, and knowing how to enroll supporters to help them unlock impact. The end result was actionable strategies to up the cohort’s fundraising game, with the ultimate goal of changing more lives.

Fast Forward co-founders Kevin Barenblat and Shannon Farley make a toast at a dinner with the cohort and Growth Accelerator partners | Michelle Nguyen

The finale to it all: an intimate dinner with the people who make the Growth Accelerator possible – our incredible partners. We were thrilled to be joined by leaders at, Arrow Impact, Endless Network, and more. Over a delicious dinner, these social impact leaders had the opportunity to hear first-hand from the founders they’re supporting. 

The cohort had meaningful time to connect, reflect, and look ahead towards the next period of growth | Michelle Nguyen

Our biggest takeaway from the Growth Accelerator Kickoff? It’s about the people, and it’s about the relationships we build that drive the tech nonprofit sector forward. Cohort member and Nexleaf Co-Founder Nithya Ramanathan put it beautifully: “From the kickoff dinner to when we said goodbye, the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator Kickoff created an intimate space where doers, partners, and donors could connect and make more authentic relationships.” As we embark on the journey that is the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator, we can’t wait to continue unlocking the power of this community. Together, we’re shaping the future of the social sector.

Interested in getting involved with the Fast Forward Growth Accelerator? Get in touch to learn how you can join us to scale world-changing tech.