If you are in fundraising and marketing you are in sales – you play a role in recruiting support for your organization. Increasingly, it’s important for all members in an organization to understand their role as it relates to sales and marketing so the overall donor experience is great – when they call the office, volunteer with programs, give online, etc. One simple tool that can help equip staff and organizations around sales is a solid ‘elevator pitch’.

The elevator pitch is a quick, engaging summary of the work you do that is hopefully simple, easily understood and memorable. Increasingly, elevator pitches aren’t done in person but in emails, on websites, through chat, videos, and so on. Daniel Pink (author of Drive among others) recently wrote about new pitches for selling your organization in today’s world in his latest book To Sell Is Human .

6 New Pitches for Selling Your Organization

6 New Ways To Sell Your Organization

The Pixar Pitch

The one-word pitch is powerful if you can get there (think ‘priceless’ and MasterCard), I’m a fan of leading with a question as it engages and provokes curiosity, and the Twitter and subject line pitches are really just nods to how we communicate nowadays. As for rhyming pitches… I’ll abstain. But the Pixar pitch was new to me and something I really started to love the more I thought about it and applied it.

What it forces you to do is tell a story and follow the narrative framework without you necessarily knowing it. And as I hope you’ve heard and realize by now… stories are supremely powerful. Pink uses Finding Nemo as an example for the Pixar pitch framework (thanks 15minutemoviemethod.com )

  • Once upon a time there was a widowed fish named Marlin who was extremely protective of his only son, Nemo.
  • Every day, Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.
  • One day in an act of defiance, Nemo ignores his father’s warnings and swims into the open water.
  • Because of that, he is captured by a diver and ends up as a pet in the fish tank of a dentist in Sydney.
  • Because of that, Marlin sets off on a journey to recover Nemo, enlisting the help of other sea creatures along the way.
  • Until finally Marlin and Nemo find each other, reunite, and learn that love depends on trust.

It’s surprisingly simple and pretty flexible. You can have the classic ‘hero’s journey’ in the beneficiary story:

  • Once upon a time, there was a woman in Rwanda, Florence, fighting to provide her children
  • Every day, she would wake up at the crack of dawn and work all day but never quite get ahead
  • One day, she saw a group of women with an Opportunity International loan officer under a tree and walked over to see what was going on
  • Because of that, she learned how a micro-loan could help her start her own milk distribution business in her neighbourhood
  • Because of that, she was able to employ other people, open two stores and earn more income with less work
  • Until finally, she had earned enough profit where she could provide a quality education for her son Johnson

Or have the donor/supporter as the ‘hero’:

  • Once upon a time, there were thousands of people living in the village of Yella, Ethiopia without access to clean water leading to preventable death and disease
  • Every day, women and children, would walk for hours just to fetch usable, drinkable water, taking up valuable time away from work, for women, and school, for children
  • One day, Jenny decided participate in the Abbotsford Run for Water and raise funds for the Run for Water Foundation
  • Because of that, Jenny raised $350 by inviting friends and family to donate to her page
  • Because of that, the Run for Water foundation was able to provide clean water to 10 villagers in Yella, Ethiopia from Jenny alone
  • Until finally, thanks to Jenny and others, the entire village of Yella has access to clean, drinkable, usable water letting women and children spend more time generating income and going to school

You can use the same framework to position your organization, tell your genesis or founding story – where you come in at ‘one day’ to solve a problem – or even summarize a strategy or project concept.

By having your ‘pitch’ fit a storytelling model, especially if you have real people and characters in there, it becomes more emotional and engaging which then makes it more memorable to the listener. You don’t need to talk about your 5 point strategy or numbers about your impact to date (people won’t remember that anyways) but if they walk away knowing how you help Florence or the impact Jenny has that’s all you can ask for.


As you are thinking about the messages, stories, communications and pitches for your organization, both internally and externally, think about these 6 pitches for selling and how they can be used. In particular, experiment with the Pixar pitch to see how you can create quick, simple and powerful ‘pitches’ anyone in the organization can use to engage the people they are talking to in your organization’s story and work.

Want More?

Want even more? Shouldn’t you be working? Kidding. Here’s a video.

Big hat tip to Smart + Savvy & Associates for having the event (and inviting me to it). Bigger hat tip to Daniel Pink for writing the bloody thing and posting so many excerpts/resources online.