Tips for Crafting the Perfect Elevator Pitch for Nonprofits

Do you have goals to increase your program budget this year and you are not sure where to start? It can be as simple as reassessing the way you talk about your organization to potential donors. You’ll never know when the opportunity will present itself, and there’s no better way to approach it other than to be prepared.  Developing a clear, concise elevator pitch for these moments will help you stay on track and help others know what you are trying to accomplish. Here are some simple tips for developing your elevator pitch:

Know what is motivating your audience

Before you start crafting your elevator pitch, you probably have an idea of what kind of response you want to elicit from your audience. Do you want them to get so fired up about what you do that they want to be part of it? Do you want them to donate financially?  Do you want them to volunteer their time? Do you want them to become an advocate? Once you have determined how you want them to respond, you can then can shift your focus to the next question. What motivates them to donate, volunteer, or advocate? Who are they? What do they care about? Are they motivated by relationships or social recognition? Or are they motivated because of a personal connection with your cause? For more information about this topic, read our blog on 7 Common Drivers of Charitable Giving” here.

Keep it short and sweet.

We’ve all been there before. You know, the moment when you ask someone about what it is they do, and they start telling you this long-winded story about how they got started and so on. You leave the conversation still unsure about what it is they do. Sound familiar? Don’t be that person! Keep your elevator pitch short and to the point. Your goal should be to deliver your message in 60 seconds or less – about the time (give or take) it takes you to get up an elevator.

Robert Herjavec, an investor in ABC’s Shark Tank says it perfectly. He says “You have 90 seconds if you’re lucky. If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria, you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence.” Of course, you also want to generate passion and emotion.

In a nutshell, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. 

Drop the Jargon.

Although it is hard to resist (especially for nonprofit professionals), it’s important you throw out those crazy acronyms and terms you would normally use at the office. Those should only be used internally among team members and peers. When you are introducing someone new to the mission of your organization, the last thing you want to do is use words and phrases that make no sense to them. Start using language that connects with the audience you are trying to reach.

Educate about the problem you are solving…with a question!

Identify the social problem(s) your organization is trying to solve by asking a simple “Did you know” question. Ask yourself, why is it necessary for your organization to exist? Keep it short, simple, and to the point. For example, if you are a Food Bank, you can ask “Did you know that a surprisingly large proportion of East Texas families can’t afford to feed their families?”

Explain how are you providing a solution to this social problem.

Once you have established the problem you are solving, the next step is to simply identify how your organization is uniquely equipped to provide a solution to this problem. For example, “We exist to provide nutritious meals at no cost to these families and teach them how to prepare these meals on their own. We have stocked food pantries and incredible volunteers who deliver these meals and offer to do cooking lessons with them.

Finally, clearly state your call to action.

When it comes to your call to action, it is important to read the situation. Sometimes, it might not be appropriate to make a direct ask right at that moment. However, it is always a good idea to have this part of your pitch nailed down in case the opportunity presents itself. As you are crafting this part of your pitch, ask yourself, how can they be part of the solution? How could they partner with you to ultimately further your mission and make an even bigger impact? 

One tip is to create a sense of urgency about your cause by being intentional about the language you are using. Words like support, engage, change, fight, and transform are all great examples of strong action words. Include how their donation or involvement will make an impact in one simple sentence. The main goal you should strive for is to generate emotion and inspire your audience to take action. 

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