Social change isn’t easy. Your organization may have the best of intentions, but unless you can convince others to join you, you’ll never make the impact you’ve been dreaming of. You need volunteers, donors, and advocates—and the only way to get them is an engaging pitch.
So, how do you condense the complexities of your work into a concise and compelling argument? We’ll walk you through it.
As we shared in "Simple Steps to Authentic Brand Strategy," branding is really just a fancy word for personality. A strong brand thinks about, interacts with, and wants to be seen by the world in a certain way. It’s critical to building operational capacity, galvanizing support, and maintaining mission focus. So, before anything else, you’ll want to:
Develop a clear value proposition and brand position to establish reputability.
- High levels of trust contribute to greater organizational capacity and social impact. In 2015, 90% of corporations indicated to America’s Charities Snapshot that partnering with reputable organizations enhances their brand. Great read, "The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector." -- Stanford Innovation Review
Create a compelling storyline.
- Identify your audiences and develop personas
Once you know the positioning, core beliefs and values of your venture, you can begin creating conversations. The question is, with whom?
If you’re not aware of what a persona is, think of it as a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer, donor, or supporter. To create one, simply group your audiences based on:
- Behavior patterns
- Common motivations or pain points
- Shared goals or outcomes
As you identify these figures, you’ll want to start brainstorming things like:
- What will capture this persona’s attention?
- What motivates them?
- Think compassion, finding community, statistical impact, broad systems change, prestige and status, improve economic opportunity, children/family, better health, political outcomes, strengthen community fabric, stability, etc.
- What is their vision for the world, and how can you help them get there?
Lastly, it’s time for a gut check:
- How might people of different ethnicities identify with what you’re creating?
- Who has historically been under-represented or marginalized?
- Are you focusing all of your audiences on donors and funders, or are you thinking about clients and partners as well? Are there people your work may impact indirectly that need to be considered?
Knowing your audiences and messaging to them based on their motivations, wants, and needs, will compel them to engage with you.
Be considerate in your messaging.
Your brand needs a consistent tone. Whether it skews casual or formal is up to you, but either way, you should always be mindful of how you phrase things. You don’t want to unintentionally hurt someone. If this is a new concept, work in a group to check your language and possible biases—like we did in this example:
A few points to focus on:
- “Generational health crisis” - How do you create messaging that is not inadvertently criticizing culture?
- “In our community” - Are we victimizing?
- “Obese” - Are we alienating individuals or treating size as a health crisis? Instead, let’s focus on health issues, i.e. the diabetes-specific statistic.
The differences are subtle but meaningful. We’ve changed the focus from shaming what children eat to leveling the playing field to create opportunity.
Have a compelling and inclusive visual language (photography, fonts, color palette, iconography, etc.)
Like written messaging, visual language conveys a lot about the organization, but how do you develop it? Design is such a complex arena. Logos, icons, photography, fonts, and colors—it’s enough to make your head spin, but don’t worry. We’ve got you.
If you haven’t already, take a look at our “Quick and Dirty Guide to Color Theory,” and then consider the colors that best represent the feeling you want as your first impression. Need help getting creative? Mood boards are an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights, and clarify communication. They help visually explain a feeling and, in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand.
So, now that you have the framework, how do you turn it into an engaging pitch? Start building.
Below, you’ll see a few example personas we’ve created for clients; for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on Darren. What would this professional giver/investor want in a pitch?
1. Your ‘Why’
In his TEDx Talk on inspiring action, Simon Sinek shared that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is grounded in biology. Decision-making is emotional, so paint your vision in a way that helps people imagine your better world. Skeptics will still want proven results (your cynical majority), but your fellow visionaries will become your brand advocates. This ties in to the second point.
2. The Problem
Clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve, using simple terminology (no jargon). Why does your organization exist?
Problem statements are important, because often times, they are the lead-in to your messaging and meant to capture your persona’s attention. Think of it this way: If you were stuck in an elevator with Bill Gates, how would you start your pitch for him to support your new venture? You’d probably lead with the wrong you’re trying to right in the world.
Note how the iconography used is gender-inclusive.
3. Your Unique Approach
Why is your organization best suited to tackle this problem?
4. Your Impact
What measurable difference are you making?
5. Your Expertise
Why are you qualified to drive this mission? Are you a cutting edge leader? Break it down for us, and then back it up with headlines of mass scale impacts.
6. Who You Serve
Who’s on the receiving end of this effort?
Of course, all of this leads up to the one thing too many organizations dance around: the ask. We’ve established what WorkIt does, as well as how and why they do it. The only thing left is what kind of help they need to fuel their mission.
If they’ve correctly identified their personas and built upon each point above, chances are, the “Darrens” they’re pitching to will respond favorably. Onward and upward!
That said, we understand how intimidating the process can seem. If you’d like help with any of the above, don’t hesitate to reach out!