Your elevator speech doesn’t go to the top floor

You know the mythical elevator speech? It’s that 30-second rundown of what you are your company does that you would give if you talked to strangers on elevators.

Tom Ahern, writing at Asking Matters (Make an Elevator Speech that Works), describes an exercise he does with nonprofit people where they write their own elevator speeches. The result is discouraging:

Ninety-nine times out of 100, the person delivering her elevator speech never mentions the donor. The donor plays no role at all in the elevator speech.

So true. So painfully true. And I wish it were only true of elevator speeches. Truth is, donors are absent from almost all things nonprofits say about themselves. From mission statements to annual reports, donors are rarely glimpsed. Even a lot of fundraising manages to avoid mentioning donors.

It’s all about what they do, how they do it, and how effective they are at it. Usually in their own internal and impenetrable jargon.

There’s no problem with that if you don’t need donors to fund your work (the Gates Foundation comes to mind). But if you need donors, you really ought to proclaim it. Why should anyone care how cool you are — unless they are part of the coolness?

A homeless shelter might say it like this: We make it possible for generous people in our community to help the homeless get off the streets — permanently.

If you think properly about donor and their importance, you’ll naturally start revising your elevator speech and everything else.

(This post originally appeared on May 4, 2011.)


Comments

2 responses to “Your elevator speech doesn’t go to the top floor”

  1. Excellent points here!
    EVERYONE needs a great Elevator Speech!
    Here is a proven template on how to build one, floor-by-floor with – NO SWEAT!
    https://nosweatpublicspeaking.com/go/freeelevatorspeechtemplate/

  2. Excellent points here!
    EVERYONE needs a great Elevator Speech!
    Here is a proven template on how to build one, floor-by-floor with – NO SWEAT!
    https://nosweatpublicspeaking.com/go/freeelevatorspeechtemplate/

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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