Tag Archives: elevator pitch

The Easy Elevator Pitch for your Nonprofit (Part 2)

Last week, I shared a simple equation for making an easy elevator pitch for your nonprofit. Take a quick look at that post before reading this one.

We all know that creating a plan is half the battle. Implementing is where it can get very tricky. This blog post will detail how to implement it with your staff once you’ve written the elevator pitch itself.

And the truth is, this process begins before you’ve even written the pitch.

One: Get buy-in from the staff on the need for a consistent elevator pitch
If staff or board members think there isn’t a problem, your solution can just seem like more work or more meetings for them to deal with. My suggestion here is to talk to staff one-on-one, explaining how consistent messaging can help them in their job (grant writing, talking to clients, networking, etc.). Once the problem is widely understood, then the solution is easier to sell.

Two: Get input on your work as you do it
This can be difficult, but it’s beyond necessary. First of all, it’s good to get buy in. But more importantly, it gets you a better product. Asking program staff for input is absolutely essential, because they are the ones most intimate with your (wait for it) programs. They know the technical language, which, though it may not be appropriate for the elevator pitch, helps you understand your nonprofit’s clients’ perspective on hearing the message.

Three: Prep for the training
Once you have semi-final messaging, schedule the elevator pitch training for 1 hour with the entire staff. Recruit a partner on the staff to help you present. Buy snacks. I would recommend a fairly informal agenda, but make a handout that explains, step by step, how the elevator pitch goes. Remember, the order of the pitch is critical to the message.

Four: Host the training
Now this can vary greatly depending on your staff culture. But here’s a start:

  • Set the emotional stage. How do you want people to feel about your organization? Playful, academic, adventurous? Get the staff in that frame of mind, preferably through an interactive exercise.
  • Go over the handout to explain the thought process behind the pitch (both order and wording).
  • Demonstrate with your partner, with each of you giving the pitch to each other. This should show the variation that can exist between pitches.
  • Ask for volunteers to try it. If possible, ask other staff members to give positive/constructive feedback on the pitch. What did they do well? What could they have done better?
  • At the end of the training, assure them that this is an ongoing process. The elevator pitch is not set in stone for eternity. Tell them that in a few months, you’re going to be checking in and asking them questions about it.

Five: In a few months, check in and ask questions about it
Schedule some time during a staff meeting to check in and see how it’s going. Are people finding the pitch effective? Are they having trouble with any sentences in particular? Are they even using it? Use those questions to refine the pitch, if needed. Remember, even though your messaging should be consistent, small changes can be okay.

The purpose of your easy elevator pitch process is not to get the 100% perfect, will-use-it-forever elevator pitch, but get one that’s 85-90% of the way there. By getting close and trying it out, you’ll be able to, for little to no cost, come up with an elevator pitch that meets your needs and keeps your messaging consistent. It can always be improved later!

Good luck!


The Easy Elevator Pitch for your Nonprofit (Part 1)

There is one question that can strike fear into a nonprofit employee’s heart.

“Oh and what does your nonprofit do?”

We all know, of course, what we do. But everyone’s answer may be a little different.  And there is nothing worse than hearing a board member or volunteer’s response and immediately thinking, “Where did THAT come from?”

But how do you fix it? Well, usually it’s to hire a consultant or a firm to do some research (since all nonprofits are different) and come up with a messaging platform. But not all nonprofits have the time or resources to do that. So, here’s an easy (and free!) way to develop a concise, simple elevator pitch that can be used throughout your organization to describe what you do.

The point of this is to make the listener understand the gist of what you do, not every single aspect of your organization. So, when you start writing, think of an audience of 4th graders.

And here is the equation:

Why- What is the problem your organization is trying to solve? (i.e. the need)
What- What do you do to solve the problem?  (i.e. your solution)
How- How do you implement your solution? (i.e. your programs)
Results- What has your organization accomplished? (i.e. proof points)

Let me give you an example: Brewery-to-Home Inc.

Why- Research has found that people are very unproductive when there is no craft beer in their refrigerators.
What- Since everyone’s busy, brewery-to-home delivery is the best way to ensure they never run out of delicious craft beer.
How- Our organization runs a delivery service that provides these people with their beer every week, so they never run out.
Results- We’ve served about 100,000 pints of beer right to peoples’ homes, keeping them happy and productive since 2005.

So, let’s say you’ve done the hard work to write it out. You’ve sat down with your boss and it’s been approved by everyone and you’re ready to go. Now what do you do?

Well, you stay tuned for Part 2.

See you next week!