As you begin planning for a capital campaign, you’ve got to get everyone speaking the same language about your organization — your board members and staff members, the person who answers the phone and (especially) the person who sits at the front desk.
Everyone needs an easy couple of sentences that get across the power and excitement that is your organization. They need a simple, compelling shorthand way to talk about your organization that just rolls off their tongues.
Because, a simple, clear, consistent message delivered by lots of people over time is one of the BEST ways to wedge your organization into the minds of people in your community.
5 Questions to Hit the Perfect (Elevator) Pitch
When you’re part of an organization that’s doing great work, you want to shout it from the rooftops any chance you get.
In today’s world of complex impact metrics and vibrant digital narratives, we can almost always find a great link to share, an infographic to grab, or a video to post to explain our organization’s story online.
But sometimes the biggest challenge of all is finding the right words to open the conversation face to face.
Crafting (and practicing) a concise elevator pitch — a quick overview of your organization that you can share in no more than 60 seconds — will set you up to engage potential supporters, allies, and friends in your organization’s mission.
The best elevator pitches are conversational.
Your pitch should be authentic, concise, and focus on the impact your organization is achieving — not a laundry list of accomplishments.
A great pitch should answer these five questions:
1. What do you do to make the world a better place?
2. How do you do it?
3. On what scale do you work? (you might think of this as results-over-time)
4. What are you proud of?
5. What’s a specific example?
Two Pitch-Perfect Examples of the 5-Question Model
Here are a few samples that use the 5-question model outlined above.
Example 1 – charity: water
Charity: water (1) works to bring clean drinking water to every person on the planet. Basically, we (2) work with local partners to fund and build water projects around the world.
Since we launched (3) 10 years ago, we’ve funded nearly 18,000 water projects in 24 countries.
I’m especially proud of (4) charity:water’s transparency. (5) We document every project on a searchable map so that donors can see exactly what the impact of their support was, and how each project turned out.
Example 2 – the Springfield Homeless Shelter
The Springfield Homeless Shelter (1) provides a safe and clean place for people to sleep, eat, and connect to a network of services. Basically, we (2) make sure that people’s most fundamental needs are met, and support them in their first steps towards a permanent home.
(3) Every week, over 1,000 men, women, and children come through our doors for a hot meal, a warm bed, or to be connected with medical care, mental health and recovery services, or for help with things like finding a job or signing up for food stamps.
I’m especially proud that (4) our shelter treats every person who walks through the doors with kindness and respect. The last time I visited the shelter, it was pouring outside, and the intake line stretched out to the sidewalk. (5) There was a staff person outside in the rain greeting everyone, handing out umbrellas and hot tea, and apologizing for the wait.
|Explain how your organization is changing the world||Recite your mission statement.|
|Use your own words.||Memorize copy from the website.|
|Give a sense of scale.||Rattle off statistics.|
|Share your own connection.||Appropriate or speak from someone else’s experience.|
|Give a specific, relatable example.||Say it’s too complicated to explain.|
|Practice your elevator pitch any time you get. Notice how it evolves.||Write out your elevator pitch and recite it word for word.|
Of course, there are many paths to the finish line when creating the perfect elevator pitch.
What are the secret ingredients to your perfect pitch? Share your thoughts in the comments.
This post is by our friend and collaborator, Miriam Barnard, who is a powerful writer, thinker and non-profit practitioner. Miriam is a Portland, Oregon-based social good strategy consultant who specializes organizational and leadership transition, fundraising, technology and communications, and planning. She has over a decade of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising strategy consulting.