7 Ways to Grab and Keep Audience Attention when Pitching Your Non-Profit

24 January 2014
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Most people who delve into the world of non-profit startups, are concentrating on their cause and how they can best support it monetarily. The problem with that focused approach, is that in order for you to build a massive pot of money as a support base, you have to get the word out about what your organization.

Your message can only go so far without a dedicated plan to spread it.

Your grass-roots style of promotion and education of your cause has worked up until now. In a small town, it’s a great way to build your social awareness, and start developing a following within the community. But eventually, you’ll find that the audience is growing smaller, and you end up repeating your same message to a particular group over and over again. The speech you gave a year ago to the local Kiwanis Club, no longer packs the same punch today.

A stale message, even in support of a great organization, will cause your target audience to switch on their internal mute button. I know that sounds like a bad thing to say, but no matter how important your message, if you fail to develop and recreate your content, you’ll simply lose their attention.

 7 Ways to Grab and Keep Audience Attention when Pitching Your Non-Profit

Present your non-profit

1. Find something you have in common

Find a connection between what you are trying to do, and what the members of your audience are already involved in. All non-profits have one thing in common, they are selfless organizations working to create a better way of life for people other than themselves. That shared link alone, if worded correctly, can form an instant bond and peek audience curiosity. People want to feel connected.

2. Tell them how they can get involved first

Too many presenters on non-profits choose to share a captivating story first, and hold off answering “how can we help?” until the end of their pitch. I want you to flip this around. Lead with explaining to your audience how they can help (e.g. monetary donations, volunteerism, tell a friend). Give them step-by-step instructions on where to go to make a contribution. Once they understand what it is you are asking of them, follow it up by explaining to them why your cause is important and where their contribution is going.

3. Make it easy to donate

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Make an effort to ensure that they don’t come across any difficult steps or resistance from the moment they decide to donate to your organization, to  when you actually receive the funds.

Exercise:Have someone who is not affiliated with your organization go through the process of submitting a donation. Follow up by asking them if any of the steps proved to be confusing or unnecessary. You should be constantly reviewing your process at least every six months. Consider changes in technology and application development when making changes.

Visit www.indiegogo.com for some inspiration.

4. Use props and visual aids

For people who are not comfortable with speaking in public, this tactic can be a total game changer. The last thing you want is for the presenter’s nervousness to be more noticeable than their passion for your cause. By including props and visual aids, you are essentially distracting the audience, and refocusing their attention on an object rather than yourself. Make sure these objects share a congruent message with your cause.

Remember to avoid anything that could be considered too grotesque. Many presentations are made during the lunch hour. Use these tools as a way to leverage your message, and alleviate the stresses of large group interaction.

5. Use your time wisely

The rule of thumb is to keep your presentation under an hour. Similar to a sales pitch, you want to use this time to present the most attractive and awe inspiring facts surrounding your cause. People these days are constantly distracted and short on time. And you have to remember that why your message and cause may be extremely interesting and thought-provoking to you, it may not mean the same thing to them. Distill your material to include only the most intense and engaging content. If you begin to quote numbers over and over again, you may lose the attention of your audience.

Note: When people make a donation, be sure to ask them why they chose to support your organization. Their response will reveal your most compelling attributes. Use that information in your pitch.

6. Choose the right person for the job

You have people in your organization who were created with the gift of gab. They love speaking in front of people and presenting the facts. Their passion is unmatched amongst their peers. Use them to promote your message! Don’t appoint your board President as the designated spokesperson just because of the position he/she holds. This person may have authority, but they also may be a seriously crappy public speaker.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Allow members of your team to work in-line with their own strengths. Harness their natural abilities to better promote your cause. If politics get in the way of your goals, you might as well pack up the office and move on.

7. Make sure your audience is comfortable

An uncomfortable audience is a fidgety audience. And a fidgety audience fails to pay attention.

Sometimes the overall comfort of your listeners is out of your control. But if you have the ability to do so, make their time spent with you comfortable. If it’s too hot, coo lthe place down. Provide coat racks so people aren’t left figuring out how to fit their over coat on their laps. Have a nice chilled pitcher of water or a hot pot of coffee available. And have snacks and finger foods conveniently placed on each table.

It’s all about making them happy!

Side note: Avoid buffet style. People will be more comfortable serving themselves while seated rather than standing and walking awkwardly to a buffet during your presentation.

That’s it! Seven quick tips you can apply to your next presentation or donation pitch. The main thing to remember, is to keep changing up your approach. Don’t rely on what has worked in the past, to work two years later. People change, their wants and needs change and the way they choose to invest their money will change.

So does your organization!

Best of luck to you and your cause. On the days you feel like quitting, just take a big breath and remember that the future is created one day at a time.

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P.S. If you need some help promoting your non-profit or cause, give me a call. I’d love to help you map out your path to success! 815-441-2219

Ask for Andy 🙂

photo credit: tranchis via photopin cc

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