Throw Your Perfect Elevator Pitch

What’s your elevator pitch? If you bump into someone important on an elevator who asks you what you do for a living, what would you say? Have you scripted your talking points that quickly and simply define your organization and its value proposition?

Your elevator pitch should express why your non-profit matters in thirty seconds or less. If your conversation is compelling and sparks interest, hopefully you will keep talking after you’ve arrived at your floor and exchange business cards. The goal for every elevator pitch is to secure a follow up meeting.

An elevator pitch is not simply reciting your mission statement. It is different than a mission or vision statement although these can be woven in to your “pitch.” Write down and memorize three or four short sentences, statements, or even phrases so you are prepared at a moment’s notice.

Your elevator pitch should be…

•  Simple – Avoid getting too wordy. Don’t use too many fancy words or jargon. Get to the salient points as soon as possible and do NOT try to tell your whole story. Save that for later.

•  Emotional – The listener needs to hear emotion, excitement, and passion from you. If you are boring why would your listener want to hear more? Provide them with an “Aha” moment!

•  Credible – You don’t need to quote facts or numbers, but if you do, make sure they are accurate. Avoid stating, “we are the ONLY organization that…” You must sound sincere and believable.

•  Relevant – Your cause is relevant, or you would not serve there. In the same way, your “pitch” must be relevant to your audience.

I worked for a ministry named Gospel Communications, International. Our mission was hard to explain. So, I developed an elevator pitch that I used often when people asked, “Tell me about GCI.”

Here’s my script:

At Gospel Communications International, we provide access to the Good News of Jesus Christ to people around the world in the language of their hearts.

For more than 50 years, we have shared God’s Word and other critical information through culturally relevant, evangelistic films, videos, TV broadcasts, and internet-driven messages.

Based in West Michigan, our passion is communicating the Gospel worldwide, using media, to change lives.”

I wrote this elevator pitch when I worked for Mel Trotter Ministries:
Mel Trotter is located in the Heartside Neighborhood of Grand Rapids. We proclaim and demonstrate the compassion of Christ toward hungry, homeless, and hurting men, women, and children from the West Michigan area. We do this by providing the life-sustaining services they need without cost or obligation to them. In short, we bring hope to those who have none.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Once you deliver your pitch, you need a plan of action to follow up. Ask the person if they’d be interested in learning more about your ministry and offer to email some additional information. Obviously, make sure you get their email address! A great elevator pitch can get your foot in the door, but exceptional follow-up can really set things in motion.


About the Author: Kent Vanderwood, Vice President – Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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