I have told you that I love Inc. magazine right? Well here's another reason why.
In the July 2007 edition of the magazine, they have an story about how important it is for organizations to be able to simply and effectively answer this question . . .
What does your company do?
The article talks about a consulting firm that specializes in helping organization develop an "elevator speech". A 30 second statement that helps people to understand exactly what their company does and why it is important.
Having an elevator speech is important in for-profit companies . . . it is VITAL in nonprofits.
Imagine this. You are the Executive Director of a theatre company (note: this example applies to pretty much every nonprofit sector, but we will just use theatre here).
You are on your way to a meeting and you have bought along your Artistic Director, your Board president and one of the actors in your company.
You all step onto an elevator and you hear someone shout . . . "hold the door."
Onto the elevator steps Bill Gates. And guess what? The Gates Foundation just started an Arts and Culture division.
He's headed to the top of the building. The elevator door closes. You now have thirty seconds to get this man excited about your company.
As the ED of the company you start if off. "Mr. Gates, I represent Theatre X, a nonprofit arts organization."
"Oh", he says . . . "and what does Theatre X do?"
The Artistic Director jumps in . . . "We do work that gives new life to old theatre classics."
The Company Actor speaks . . . "We provide opportunities for actors that are not normally given roles by other theatres."
The Board Prez . . . "We use art as a vehicle of discussion with the hope of creating social change."
The elevator hits Mr. Gates floor. You give him a card. He smiles politely and walks away.
Your theatre company just blew it.
How? Because by giving that possible funder three different ideas of what your company does, all you managed to do was confuse him.
Confused people do not give money.
Let me say that again.
CONFUSED PEOPLE DO NOT GIVE MONEY.
If you can not state, with clarity and consistency what your nonprofit does, then you are making your fundraising efforts 100 times harder then it needs to be.
Need some help developing your elevator speech? In addition to the Inc. article, read the book Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath