Elevating My Pitch

In my graduate writing class, a topic discussed was elevator pitches. Another was the non-profit sector. Both of which I have my share of experiences. While I was not a grant reviewer, my main responsibilities were part administrative, part marketing (leading me to design) and resource development (or fundraising/campaign). My first campaign? The summer of 2007, when the word, “recession” was very popular.

Professor Kalm said in a recent blog post, “It is always a bad time to ask for money. Ask anyway and be prepared for rejection that will humble you.”  Gone are the days of the workplace being a large community where philanthropy is the expected from management to the mailroom. These were and are tough times. Going out and expecting things were foolish, even in my early twenties, I had enough sense to know that. I had to find my niche.

Owning your execution in this way makes you credible

Just like the way I talk about graphic design in this forum, I had to find my passions in our organization’s mission. I started speaking to company’s about what I thought my organization would want me to say. In hindsight, that method didn’t work. I had to give them something back. I had to say things that resonated with me and came from the heart. I didn’t realize it then, but I became personally invested in the work we did. After that, the pitch was easy. All I had to do was believe it, live it and sell it to people in a way I would want to hear. Who knows me better than me?

The best way to learn your job, is to do your job. We advocated volunteerism, so I volunteered. We advocated early childhood education. I visited and promoted after school programs and even diaper drives we held for my campaigns. People had questions, I always got back to them.

The Pitch

A difficult part of the pitch was just getting to the point of speaking. Sometimes a barrier would be a coordinator that had enough jobs going on, that they did not have time to hear me. I was in the very fortunate situation of designing our campaign collateral, so this made it easier for me to speak about. Once I was in a company for a campaign presentation, I kept my pitch light. I gave an introduction telling people our mission and who we are. Then follow that up with 3 key areas (education, income and health) and a brief conclusion thanking the audience for their time and offering them tangible services (volunteerism and 2-1-1 service).

With this experience in elevator pitches, you might think it comes very naturally for me. When talking about the community when people were (and still are) in desperate times, I felt I had nothing to lose in terms of my pitches. I felt liberated winning someone over in something I believed in. Design is something else I believe in and I am passionate about. Can I bring the same level of intensity in pitching about this niche? This is something I will explore in blogs to come…

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