I’ve been working with nonprofit leaders for over 10 years, and I always say that nonprofits need a vision, a roadmap, and funding to be successful.
But what happens when you’re constantly struggling to get donations? It feels like you’re paddling up river, right? Sure, your small fundraising events might bring in some donations, but it’s usually not enough.
What you need is a cash infusion. You might be thinking about getting an angel investor to help you kickstart your nonprofit and see real, sustainable growth. In fact, you might already know how to find major donors for your nonprofit.
But how do you pitch your nonprofit? It’s certainly not an easy task. And there aren’t any simple answers.
Sometimes, you have to go straight to the source for those answers. That’s exactly what I did when I interviewed Luke Krueger, co-founder of Valhalla Private Capital, board member for both social and startup companies, and angel investor. Luke has a passion for investing in talented entrepreneurs who are changing the world. And he knows exactly what investors are looking to hear from nonprofit organizations seeking large donations.
He helped me create this five-step checklist for pitching a nonprofit.
1. Do your research
The first thing to understand is that the same rules that apply to for-profit companies looking for investors apply to you. You’re no doubt busy running your organization with minimal time and resources, but that doesn’t mean you get excused from planning.
You have to be prepared for a meeting with the angel investor – prepared to sell your organization’s value and answer the donor’s questions, and that means doing your research. Make sure to ask the right questions:
- Who is the donor?
- What is the donor’s worldview, and how does your organization align with it?
- What does the donor care about?
- How much money are they donating?
- Have they already donated all their allocated funds?
- Do they only donate at certain times of the year?
- What causes are they investing in?
- Is your organization a good fit with their passions?
“Raising money for any purpose takes a ton of time.” — Luke Krueger
You can waste a lot of it chasing people who have already donated the money they allocated or when your non-profit is the wrong fit. For example, if an investor only donates to animal rescue and environmental causes, your social services non-profit organization probably doesn’t stand a chance, so don’t waste your time! There’s an angel investor out there for you. You just have to find them.
2. Know your value
“You have to realize you’re in a competition for capital.” — Luke Krueger
The donor will only have a finite amount of money to donate, and there will be many different nonprofits vying for donations.
Why should the donor invest in your nonprofit vs the rest? Help the donor understand exactly what you do, how you do it, and how you do it better. Identifying your organization’s value proposition is critical to successfully finding major donors for your nonprofit.
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis
Sure, the investor will want to donate to a good cause, but there are many good causes out there.
If you want to impress them, conduct a SWOT analysis, just like a startup entrepreneur would do when pitching to an investor in the for-profit world. Know your competition and pinpoint exactly what you do better than the rest.
Keep in mind that something like 70% of people buy on value. Angel investors don’t just care about your overhead costs. More often than not, it doesn’t matter if you spend some of the donations on branding your nonprofit, marketing, and other administrative costs as long as you can show value – that is, how their donation will make a difference.
4. Understand the donor opportunity
Many people confuse the organization’s value with the donor opportunity, but these are two distinct conversations. The donor opportunity is about what’s in it for the investor.
To get this part right, you need to know what the angel investor is interested in. Do they care about the financial return on their investment? Do they expect a park bench or a building named after them? Do they only care about the social value their money will bring to the community?
Once you know what they’re looking for, you can show them the donor opportunity your nonprofit can provide.
5. Practice, practice, practice
It’s going to take practice to get your pitch just right. It’s going to take time, so don’t give up.
Think about it:
You don’t go to the gym once and think you’ll be in shape. You need to go to the gym over and over and over again, and then you’ll eventually see results. The same is true when it comes to pitching your nonprofit.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to suck the first time they do it.
You’ll be bad. It’s just the way it is.
But with practice, you’ll find out what the investor wants to hear, what they value, what they’re trying to buy, and how to show your value. And you’ll find your confidence.
About the Author
Kerstin Heuer is a marketing consultant and founder of Non-Profit Today. ince 2008 she has used the trifecta of branding, marketing, and design to help nonprofits communicate the heart of their organization, connect with their audiences, and achieve their missions. With over 25 years of industry experience and lessons learned from work on 500+ non-profit projects, Kerstin is skilled in collaborating with NPOs to make sure they have a clear message and the traction they need to spread it. Connect with her on Linkedin or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.