Guest post by Elisa Kosarin, Twenty Hats
This post was originally published on Twenty Hats.
Recently, I had the privilege of leading a training hosted by Volunteer Fairfax for RSVP workstation managers on the art of the elevator pitch.
I love the idea of the elevator pitch, because it is another way to use stories to engage prospective volunteers, but this time with the spoken word.
Just like written stories, a good elevator pitch starts by examining your prospective volunteer’s needs and goals and connecting that information to your volunteer program.
Once you frame your pitch in this manner, the words fall right into place. Here is an example from the RSVP training, created by Alacia Earley of Cornerstones in Reston, Virginia.
“You mentioned that you enjoy working with children one on one. We have a volunteer position you might be interested in. Our Homework Help volunteers come in once a week for a few hours to work one-on-one or in small groups with students at our community centers in Reston. Regular volunteers often tell me how rewarding it is to see the students come in week after week and watch their grades and self-esteem improve from the tutoring. Let me know if you would be interested in becoming a Homework Helper.”
I like the way Alacia starts with her prospective volunteer’s desire to work with children. Then, she suggests a position and illustrates how it might meet her prospect’s needs. She also shares details that describe just how being a Homework Helper helps children and creates rewarding results for the volunteer.
Another Essential Element
There is just one other element that I add to a pitch, and that is your own emotional connection to your work. Think back to what brought you to your job in the first place. Was it your passion for the cause? The quality work provided by your program? The moving achievements of your clients? When your pitch comes from the heart, it resonates further with your listener.
Here is how another pitch might sound with that final link to your own enthusiasm. This one is for a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program:
“You might want to consider CASA volunteering. I know you are looking for a way to volunteer and have a direct, positive impact on a child’s life. That’s exactly what happens with CASA. I talked with a volunteer last week who came back from a court hearing, elated because she made a strong case for returning the child to his mother, and the judge backed up that recommendation. Those are the stories I like to hear, because I know how one volunteer can change the course of a child’s life for the better.”
I’ve Got a Formula – Try It!
Would you like to try your hand at crafting an elevator pitch? I have a simple formula I can share with you. I created it after searching the Internet for just such a formula and finding nothing that applied to volunteer engagement. My Elevator Pitch Planner shows you how to connect each piece of the process so that you create a compelling pitch ready to use when needed.
Email me to get your own free copy of the planner and my monthly updates. And please let me know how the pitch works out – or better yet, send me your successful pitches and I will post them on Twenty Hats.
Twenty Hats is authored by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years of experience in nonprofit marketing, development, and volunteer management. She founded the site to help volunteer managers master the skills they need to make their jobs easier.