Posted by: Don Linnen | 29 August 2008

You’ve Got 30 Seconds…

…before their eyes start glazing over. Can you tell someone about your nonprofit and what makes it unique from the other 9,000 nonprofits in Dallas?

Last December I talked about doing your due diligence to prepare the justification (or case statement) of why someone should write you a check. This time, I’ll talk about the short and sweet way to get your message across.

It may not earn you a donation right off the bat, but it may keep you in the game a little longer. At the very least it will plant a seed that you can nurture.

A couple of weeks ago I called an old friend from work. Hadn’t talked with him in months (maybe more than a year). We exchanged pleasantries, caught up, and when he found out that I was working for nonprofits, his tone changed. He assumed that I was calling to ask him for money. “That’s what everyone does,” he said.

I wasn’t. I genuinely just wanted to catch up. A few weeks later, sitting at the dinner table with our wives, the subject came up again. He wanted to know more about what I did and for whom I wrote grant proposals.

Amazing! I have the opportunity, and I blow it!! I’ve got reams of important data in my brain (intermixed with old phone numbers, the jersey numbers of the 1974 Dallas Cowboys, and the final approach speeds of a few airplanes I’ve flown). I’ve written 50 plus proposals in the last year, and as I start start sifting through the details, I see the “off flags” start flickering in my buddy’s eyes.

My advice for you (and my hope that I will practice what I preach) is to have your “elevator pitch” ready. That’s a term from a previous chapter of my life (selling computer systems). If you’re riding with someone in an elevator, and you want to get your point across, you have about 30 seconds to make it happen.

Unless you’re prepared in advance, you will undoubtedly witness the glazing of the eyes and a friendly “goodbye” when the elevator door opens. So think about it now.

Take your mission statement, scrub it into a few words your mom can understand, apply what makes your nonprofit unique, and be ready to state it clearly in 30 seconds.

Keep it simple and direct. I love the catch phrase for the upcoming missions conference hosted by Buckner. “Go. Be. Do.” They are saying “go somewhere, be a voice, do something.”

Isn’t that great?? Three words. Six letters total. Amazing! Easy to remember. Easy to convey! Perfect for getting people to be involved with missions.

You’re probably going to have to write all your mission, vision, facts, factoids, and distinctions down to get it right. Then you need to practice. Mark Twain said, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

Better get started now. Who knows when you’ll get that next opportunity. You don’t want to blow it like me.

It won’t happen again.

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