Leveling the Playing Field: Acceleration Customized for Nonprofits

We led a first of its kind accelerator event specifically designed for nonprofit organizations in Floyd County, Virginia last week through a partnership with the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. 50 participants representing 7 organizations walked through exercises created and offered to startups with a goal of rapidly accelerating their mission and contributions to the community. 

I am continually excited that we focus so much energy on startups but why should they be the only ones to get access to all of the cool stuff? This was our effort to bring the proven methodology of acceleration to nonprofit organizations so an entire community can feel the impact of innovation and mission realization.
— Sarah Milston

Using a two-day cohort model supported by mentors and rapid ideation, Mission Forward worked with 7 organizations representing the interests of 12 nonprofits and packed with varied team members including clients, staff, volunteers, and board members. The organizations ranged from private schools to a brand-new arts coalition and a little of everything in between. Everyone was tasked with bringing one wicked problem to solve and walked away with a 90-day plan to achieve their solution. 

 When asked what advice they would give to other organizations considering participating in the future a board member participant said,

“Don't just consider it, sign up today, right now! Your nonprofit has so much to gain no matter your history, size, structure, or struggles.”


Mission Forward is a program based on a faith-based acceleration model started by Created Leaders which gave The Spark Mill permission to adapt and curate a nonprofit specific program. “I have loved offering this tool to ministries around the Commonwealth of Virginia to watch them flourish and was delighted to work to customize the tools offered for nonprofit organizations,” said TSM Consultant and Created Leaders Organizer Chris Bennett. The January event was the pilot for the project which will be available for licensing in February. “We are excited to offer our expert team to deliver the content or an innovative product-in-a-box solution that has flexible licensing options and a deep train the trainer model,” said Milston