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How to Write a Nonprofit Elevator Pitch that Gets Noticed

As non-profits, we should always have our elevator pitch at the ready. An elevator pitch is an executive summary of sorts; an overview of your organization, what it does, who it helps, and what impact you have on community. An elevator pitch comes in very handy when you are at a networking event and someone asks, "where do you work" or "what do you do." You want to have a quick explanation at the ready that will entice the person to ask more. Thirty seconds is the length of time for your average elevator ride, hence the name. And you might actually find yourself in an elevator with a prospective donor, so let’s make sure you are ready.

A typical elevator pitch should ideally be 30 seconds or less. This video will also drill it down further for a Twitter pitch at 120 characters and even further for an Instagram pitch at 30 characters.

There are many elevator pitches; The question pitch, rhyming pitch, subject line pitch, and even a one-word pitch.

There are many ways to approach your elevator pitch, as well as things to include in it, such as identifying the problem, the solution, and the impact of that solution. We can also have what we do, why it's important, and how someone's involvement can help. Additionally, there is a system called AIDA, which is attention, interest, desire, and action.

Confusing, right? So, let’s break it down.


You need to know who you’re writing to before you start writing. If you’re trying to raise money for a new playground, you might want to focus on parents with kids at the park. If you’ve got a cause that focuses on veterans, you might want to talk up the benefits of giving back to those who served our country.


The first step I always take is gathering the team. Everyone within the organization must be familiar with the elevator pitch. Your staff, board, and volunteers should all be ambassadors for your non-profit. We talk a lot in the sector about creating a culture of philanthropy, and gathering the team to brainstorm the elevator pitch is a great way to engage them. Volunteer coordinators, program staff, and administration can provide valuable feedback.


We generally start by defining the problem. Each staff member may see the problem from their own unique viewpoint. For example, suppose you are a domestic violence charity. In that case, a program coordinator might talk about not having enough beds. A manager might see the problem as not having enough funding. Your receptionist might speak up and say that she sees more men calling for support.

You want to gather bullet points with as much information on the issues that your organization faces and sees within your community.


Next, repeat this same process as we move on to the solutions that your organization provides. This is where you can incorporate what you do. Also include things like:

  • What differentiates your non-profit from others in the same space

  • How effective are your programs

  • What you are preparing to accomplish in the future

Just get it all down on paper in bullet points.


What is your mission, vision, and values?


This is where we gather statistics, testimonials, quotes, and even short stories. Once again, get it all down because our next step is to start laying it all out.


I mentioned the AIDA, which I use as a framework for laying out and condensing all the information we just gathered.


The first thing we want to do is grab attention. The hook. We need to immediately deliver a solid introduction. It can be part of the problem, solution, or impact. The trick is to pull out the most compelling pieces of information we gather during brainstorming. What sentence will we use to draw them in?

Pro Tip: Try using an attention-grabbing question, an emotional appeal, or leveraging the mutual connection.


This one is more challenging. We have hooked them in our first statement, but we need to keep their interest as we add additional information. Perhaps we started with a compelling argument about who we are; now, we need to create a sentence that explains what we do that will continue to keep their interest.

Pro Tip: Try using an incredible stat. The best stat you have that will amaze them.


This is where we can talk about the impact in a way that creates a desire to take action.

Pro Tip: Try a surprise ending. Leave them thinking.


Finally, we need to be very clear about what action we want them to take. How can someone get involved right now?

We worked through this process for ourselves, but we wanted to break it down even further to get to a 30-character Instagram bio pitch.


Now hack and slash. Keep pulling out the most compelling pieces and keep cutting. It will take some finessing. A thesaurus is a great tool. Often, we can replace entire sentences with emotionally charged words.


Practice the verbal pitch often to refine your delivery and timing. Make sure to smile and let your passion show. Don’t use overly verbose words or jargon. Lastly, test and tweak. You can ask key supporters to give their feedback. I am always a fan of including stakeholders in the process because it provides an excellent opportunity for donor engagement.

Want to watch instead of read, check out our YouTube video on Crafting the Perfect The Non-profit Elevator Pitch:


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