Creating a 30-Second Pitch that Wows Potential Donors

May 9, 2019
5 minutes
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Picture this: you’re at a friend’s dinner party or a community event and you run into someone you know is the perfect donor prospect. As you're wowing them with your witty anecdotes, you realize this is the perfect moment to pitch your nonprofit. Instead of compelling them to find out more, though, your conversation fizzles and they're left awkwardly looking for some way out.

These are the times you've gotta nail it! And to do that, you’ve gotta have a perfect pitch in your back pocket. Let’s talk about some ways to develop your perfect 30-second pitch to wow potential donors.

What’s a pitch anyway?

A pitch (or elevator pitch) is a brief explanation of what your organization does, what problem you're solving, and why your work matters. Depending on who you're speaking to, include ways that the person can get involved with your organization.

Why do you need a pitch?

Having a clear, concise, compelling pitch is the key to quickly connecting through conversation about your organization. Whether you’re looking for super volunteers, new major donors, or an amazing new board member, a great pitch can open the right doors.

The three components of an effective pitch

An effective pitch includes three components – the hook (or opening), the body, and the close. Let’s look at what you can do to perfect each part.

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The Hook

It’s critical to get your audience’s attention in the first 10 seconds of your pitch. But how?

  • You know what they say: Say what you're gonna say, say it, and then say it again. It's pretty clear... how many ways can we say it?
  • Lead with something bold—don’t bury the best or most interesting part of your pitch all the way at the end. Reorganize what you say to shine a light on a wow fact first.
  • If all else fails, do it in song. Or, translated to real-life, connect your story to something that'll click for your audience. Talk about the increasing awareness of public restroom cleanliness or the rise and effect of cause-focused documentaries on streaming services. Whatever will snap 'em to attention.

The Body

This is your opportunity! You've got their attention and they're actually listening to you. Don't freeze or say something that'll make you cringe later. (We've done it too, believe us.) Now's the time to follow your hook with key information. 

Keep it brief and give 'em the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. Heck, you can even use that format... literally say, "I'mma give you a quick Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, so listen close!" And then finish up with a quick-and-dirty rundown of your mission. 

  • Be mindful of your tone of voice and facial expressions. They will 100% enhance (or in some cases hinder) your pitch. 
  • Toss out technical, academic, jargon-y words. Ain’t nobody got time for that so keep it simple and clear.
  • Be prepared for some people to try to squirm away. If they're trying to get out of the conversation, let them go, but use that as an opportunity to follow up. "Oh, you know what, we can talk about this later. I'm gonna email you or call your office so that we can get back to the party/grocery shopping/watching the fire dancers right now."

The Close

This is your moment to engage your audience with a call to action. Give 'em some proof that what you’re doing is making an impact and then make your (strategic) ask. Think bigger than just money, though. An invitation to meet could be just as powerful as a donation ask.

  • Close out with confidence and get comfortable with silence. Let your potential donor respond to your pitch before you start talking again.
  • Talk about results—something your target audience definitely cares about—this'll get them personally invested in the words tumbling out of your mouth.
  • It's a little sneaky, but we've found that holding our hand out for a handshake or a high five is a great way to get someone to feel a little obligated. What kind of person leaves you, a person literally changing the world, without at least an air high five?

Make your pitch shine

Because you’re one smart cookie, you already know that practice makes perfect. The more you practice your pitch, the better you’ll get at delivering it. Do some role-playing activities with friends, family, or colleagues so that you're never caught talking to a big fish without a rod to reel 'em in. 

Looking for some pitch inspiration? Check out some of the pitches from Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch events from 2017 and 2018.

Fundraiser, you’ve got this! It’s time for you to create that awesome pitch that will WOW potential donors. Grab your pencil, draft your pitch and start practicing!

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