Nonprofit Marketing

Elevator Pitch 101 for Social Enterprises & Nonprofits

The best way to know if you’ve nailed your organization’s messaging is to evaluate your elevator pitch. Your social enterprise or nonprofit can shine through an engaging summary of the significant impact of your organization. 

The pitch should be a quick, approachable, and memorable sub-sixty-second sound bite that encapsulates what you do and why. This can set you up for valuable partnerships and make networking a breeze. At the minimum, a great elevator pitch can help you initiate conversations with greater ease.

An effective elevator pitch for a social enterprise or non-profit organization conveys mission and impact, and includes a call to action in a concise and compelling manner. It balances clarity, passion, and an understanding of your audience. This should be a statement any members and supporters of your organization could easily articulate, as ambassadors of your mission. Below are step-by-step tips to help you craft an engaging elevator pitch:

1. Identify Your Core Message.

If you haven’t already, clearly define the primary mission or cause of your non-profit or social enterprise organization. What problem are you trying to solve? Whom do you aim to help? This is the foundation of your pitch.

2. Stay true to your org’s identity.

Your pitch should authentically represent your business's or nonprofit's values, mission, and personality. Ensure it aligns with your organization's brand idenity, voice, and tone, so other communications touchpoints are natural extensions from it.

3. Highlight Impact.

Showcase the positive change your organization is making. Use specific examples, statistics, or stories to illustrate the impact you've already made whenever possible, as well as the goals you have a clear plan to achieve. 

4. Keep It Concise.

An elevator pitch should be thirty seconds to a minute long, so prioritize brevity. Focus on the most compelling data and goals that clarify what your organization is all about.

5. Make it Relatable and Engaging.

This is a conversation starter, not a deposition. Craft a pitch that feels like the start of a great conversation, rather than a list of points to hit.

6. Know Your Audience.

Choose your words carefully, considering what your audience is interested in and cares about. Avoid jargon that might confuse, distract, or alienate your audience. You may need to use different pitches for different audiences, such as one used especially for potential donors or funding sources. Revisiting your buyer personas can help with this.

7. Craft a Compelling Hook.

Begin your pitch with a captivating hook that captures attention and sparks curiosity. You can repurpose verbiage from your mission statement, home in on what your organization does, or present an idea that encapsulates the best case outcome of your work. 

An article in Harvard Business Review remarked on why the pitch for the movie Jaws was such a good one.

A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.

“What makes it work? The logline for Jaws identifies the key elements of the story: the hero, his weakness, his conflict, and the hurdles he must overcome — all in one sentence. It depicts the overarching storyline in an interesting, straightforward way, rather than focusing on details that might seem meaningless without the context of the bigger picture.”

The social impact sector certainly feels like open water sometimes – so describing your org like a killer shark movie isn’t too far of a stretch.

8. Share Your Unique Approach.

Explain briefly how your organization approaches the issues you’re addressing differently or uniquely. This could involve innovative programs, partnerships, or strategies that set you apart.

9. Tap into Emotion.

Connect emotionally with your audience by highlighting specific impact(s) your organization has had on individuals or communities. Don’t be afraid to tell a powerful true story about someone who has benefited from your cause.

10. Include a Call to Action.

This one is crucial and often overlooked. At the end of the pitch, clearly state what you want your listener to do next: Invite them to engage with you and your work further. This could be volunteering, donating, attending an event, visiting your website, or sharing your message with others. 

Crafting the perfect elevator pitch increases the chances of making a lasting impression and setting the tone for productive conversations. Remember, an effective elevator pitch evolves over time as your organization grows and refines its mission. Regularly revisit and adjust your pitch to ensure it remains relevant, impactful and current.

Let’s Talk

Need help with more than just your elevator pitch? We’re Mustard & Moxie – the agency for organizations that measure impact rather than just measure profit. Whether you’re leading an NPO or a socially-conscious business aiming to be a force for good, we’re here to help you build your brand and hone an effective marketing and communications strategy. Reach out today to get the ball rolling.