INC. Magazine’s Tips for being Pitch Perfect

Tuning forks used to reproduce the perfect pitch - path included

There’s a lot of wisdom for non-profits and charities to glean from INC. magazine’s recent article, Pitch Perfect. Sure, the article is geared toward entrepreneurs looking to impress venture capitalists. But fundamentally it’s about how to get savvy people to say, “Now that’s something I’d like to invest in!” Different tax status, same idea.

  1. Research the heck out of every investor you pitch. Translation: Know your donor before walking into a meeting with them. Sounds obvious, but it’s stunning how frequently people skip this step. If you lay the foundation properly early on by building personas, this makes life easier when you get to the one-on-one stage of the fundraising game.
  2. Ask for advice then take it. This is a paraphrase what Susan Howlett has been saying for years, “If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.” Anxious about chronic cash flow issues, nonprofits often rush cultivation stage and leap to the ask. Taking more time may feel like a waste of time. But if you want to create lasting relationships with your donors, it’s worth it. Ask for advice. Follow it. Loop back and show that you listened. Then ask.
  3. Don’t pitch until you know you’ll nail it. Basically, create a stellar track record and then invite people to invest. This one can be tough for nonprofits who are just starting out because it’s difficult to create a track record without first having some philanthropic support. The takeaway for the social sector is: don’t expect people to be solely dazzled by your vision. Be able to explain your plan for achieving your vision and, ideally, be able to back up that plan with proof.

One other tip? Have a mission statement a donor can easily understand. It’s one of the best ways to accelerate, and deepen, engagement in your work.