This Wednesday, July 27th, 100Kin10 facilitated our most recent Practice Your Pitch Session, a virtual opportunity for select partners to receive feedback on a new program concept from actual funders in the network. As with every Practice Your Pitch Session, funders were not engaged to consider potential funding opportunities, but instead to work with partners to improve the quality of their pitches from a funder’s perspective. What’s most exciting, though, is that it’s not only the pitching partners that benefit from this opportunity; the entire network is invited to attend and observe the session, enabling a larger audience to gain important insights and tips on addressing potential funders.
Virginia Commonwealth University and The Tiger Woods Foundation each had 7 minutes to pitch the APS Foundation and Greater Texas Foundation. What followed was a robust discussion around how to improve each partner’s proposal. While the recommendations were specific for each proposal, the following themes emerged over the course of the conversation.
FRAMING YOUR PITCH
Start with what makes you unique. Funders hear countless partner proposals. If they can’t quickly grasp what makes your idea stand out, it probably won’t resonate.
Make your story personal. Organizations are most effective when they bring to life the impact of their work. For example, how are your students’ lives different as a result of your program? Or, how are your teachers changing their classroom practice because of what they learned?
Provide context. Are you targeting in-service teachers or pre-service teachers? Does your program happen during the school year or outside of the school year? Without knowing the general purpose and structure of your program, it can be difficult to grasp the specifics of your work.
TEST YOUR SOLUTION
Test your program before you bring it to a funder. Some funders are risk averse, opting to support programs that have been tested, measured, and improved, rather than a program’s first iteration. Even if you’re pitching a new program or idea, be sure to engage in a conversation around potential impact: let funders know your track record with established programs; offer early-stage evidence about the success of a new one; and/or share your ideas for why you think this new idea will be successful and how you will measure it.
Make funders’ impact clear. What role would funding play in partner work? Engage funders as thought leaders and fellow strategists in the work. Don’t solely see them as a source of income.
APPLYING FOR FUNDING
Don’t apply blindly. Wherever possible, make contact with someone at the organization directly first, especially for smaller foundations. Also, be sure you are clear on the funder’s priorities. Pitching on an idea that is completely unrelated to their strategy can be a turn-off.
Consider other funding sources. Beyond private funders and foundations, what other revenue streams are involved in sustaining your program? Have you considered charging fees for your program or seeking support from individual donors?
Always ask who else might help. It’s a small world. Even if funders are not looking to invest in your program, they may know someone who is. Close your conversations by asking who else they would recommend.
Practice Your Pitch Sessions will be back in November, 2016. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your organization to be considered as a participant!