While it would be nice to think you don’t have to sell donors on the importance of your nonprofit’s mission during fundraising, you must have an elevator pitch ready to convey all the nonprofit does very quickly. According to Classy, creating an elevator pitch is often associated with filmmakers, writers, and entrepreneurs. Still, it is just as successful for those trying to raise money for a worthy cause. Any development professional will tell you the importance of expressing your nonprofit organization’s mission quickly and concisely.
What is a nonprofit elevator pitch?
A nonprofit elevator pitch is a very brief (about 30 – 60 seconds – the time it takes to take a typical elevator ride) compelling story that communicates who you are, what you do, why you do it, and the impact a donor’s support can make.
Classy reported most big donors take a considerable amount of time before contributing. Every once in a while, nonprofit personnel must pitch the organization. in a minute or less. While long-term donor management is critical, don’t give up on the possibility of convincing someone to donate on the fly. Here’s what you need to think about when creating a quick and successful elevator pitch to give donors:
Tips for Crafting a Compelling Elevator Pitch
Start with one sentence.
Every pitch should start with a sentence that grabs the potential donor’s attention. Think of what your nonprofit does and try to express that memorably. According to Clarification, a nonprofit coaching website, the first sentence can be something unexpected. A unique opening can be a great way to draw in a potential donor. Just make sure it’s not too off the wall. From there, you can expand and explain the organization in further detail.
Describe your organization concisely.
Classy suggested you try to describe your organization. Once you have a full description, work to shorten, simplify, and clarify that description. This doesn’t mean you should dumb down your message. It simply means you must cut out any nonessential parts. Anything that’s not paramount to donors you can leave out.
Include your organization’s mission
An essential part of any nonprofit is its mission statement. You must utilize this in your pitch. Once again, you need to shorten and simplify as you did with the description. In most cases, it will be beneficial to find a way to combine the description with the mission statement. Another way to do this is to take the two tightly constructed entities and build a transition between the two. For some organizations, discussing the description first and then moving to the mission will make more sense. For other nonprofits, it might be wiser to start with the statement.
Tell your story
Another element of a strong pitch is the addition of something personal. A sentence or two explaining why you’re part of the nonprofit can go a long way with prospective donors. They may agree wholeheartedly with your reasons for joining, and that can encourage them to assist during fundraising periods.
Emphasize the impact of a donor’s support.
At the heart of every nonprofit’s appeal is the transformative difference a contribution can make. This impact should be a centerpiece in your pitch. As with the mission and description, it’s crucial to convey the impact succinctly yet effectively. For many prospective donors, understanding the tangible outcomes of their support can be the tipping point to contribute. Sometimes, it might be helpful to integrate real-world metrics or examples into the impact statement to make it more relatable.
Use this elevator pitch template to get started.
Here is a four-part elevator pitch template. Fill in the phrases in brackets for each section. At the end, combine these four steps into one paragraph.
- Opening Sentence (Grab Attention): “[Start with a surprising fact or figure related to your cause.] Did you know that [fact/figure]? At [Organization Name], we’re tackling this issue head-on.”
- Description (Who you are & What you do): “We are [brief description of the organization – e.g., a group of dedicated individuals, a global network, a local community initiative], and we [specific action or service – e.g., provide clean water, educate underserved children, rescue abandoned animals].”
- Mission (Why you do it): “Our mission is simple: [Condensed mission statement]. Every day, we strive to [specific goal or target].”
- Personal Connection (Tell your story): “I joined [Organization Name] because [personal reason or anecdote that highlights a bigger picture]. It’s not just an organization; for many, it’s a beacon of hope.”
- Impact (What a donor’s support can do): “With your support, we can [specific achievable outcome – e.g., build a well, sponsor a child’s education for a year, provide shelter for five animals]. Imagine the difference we could make together!”
The template will do a good job of getting you started, but you’ll want to tweak some of the sentences to tailor them better to your nonprofit. You can also omit one or two of these five elements if you want a shorter elevator pitch.
Donation pitch examples for inspiration.
Below are four nonprofit elevator pitch examples for fictitious organizations that demonstrate the template in action.
- Child Education Initiative
“Every minute, 20 children around the world drop out of school. We are ‘Future Learners’, a global initiative aiming to provide continuous education for underprivileged children. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to quality education regardless of their socio-economic background. I met a young girl named Aisha during one of our outreach programs. She dreams of becoming a teacher, but without our support, she’d be one of those kids missing out on education. Her enthusiasm fuels our passion. With just $30, you can sponsor a child’s school needs for an entire month, laying a brick on the path to a brighter future.”
- Animal Rescue Shelter
“This year, over 1,000 animals found refuge from the streets and abusive homes. At ‘Furry Haven,’ we rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals, giving them a second chance at a loving life. Our mission is to create a world where every pet has a loving home and is treated with compassion and care. A donation of $5 can feed a rescued animal for a week. You have the power to change their world.”
- Clean Water Foundation
“Imagine a day without clean water. Now imagine a lifetime. We are the ‘Water Wells Initiative,’ striving to bring potable water to remote communities worldwide. Our mission is to ensure that clean water isn’t a luxury but a basic right for every individual. On a field trip, I met Maria, who walks five miles every day just to fetch water for her family. Her resilience reminds us daily why our work is so vital. A generous $50 can provide an entire family with clean drinking water for six months. Together, we can make a wave of change.”
- Environmental Conservation
“Our planet loses 18 million acres of forest each year – that’s 27 soccer fields every minute. We are ‘GreenGuardians,’ a global alliance dedicated to reforestation and halting deforestation. Our mission is to restore the lungs of our Earth, ensuring a greener and healthier environment for future generations. I once planted a tree in memory of my grandfather. Today, it stands tall, reminding me of the legacy we can leave behind for our planet. With a donation of just $25, you can help us plant 100 trees. Together, we can breathe new life into our world.”
While you can’t always predict when you’ll need to pitch the importance of your organization, you need to be ready. Have a concise elevator pitch put together beforehand to use when the right situation arises.
Although it’s not necessary, carrying a card or some literature regularly to share with prospective donors can be good. This supplemental information is something that they can take with them.