The Big Mistake That’s Hurting Your Nonprofit (and How to Fix It)

nonprofit elevator pitchThere’s a simple question you get asked all the time. It comes up nearly every time you meet somebody new. At cocktail parties. Restaurants. Fundraisers. Everywhere.

If you handle it the right way, it can be enormously valuable to you and your nonprofit. More volunteers. More donations. More engagement, awareness, and interest. You know… all those things you desire and worry about and pay money for. Money that could be going to your programs instead.

But you’re blowing it.

And you’re not alone. If what I see at the many board and staff retreats I run is true, it turns out most nonprofit people are messing this up.

So what exactly am I talking about? And if this is so valuable, how can I fix it?

Don’t worry. It’s easy to fix. Read on to find out how.


I’m at a fundraising dinner and begin chatting with the woman to my right. “So what do you do?” Turns out she runs a nonprofit. The mission isn’t obvious from the title of the organization. “Tell me what your organization is about.”

15 minutes later. Yes, 15 minutes later. And I still had no answer to my question.

Be forewarned. I can be a pretty blunt dinner companion. I gently stopped her.

“Would you mind answering the question again? And this time, would you pretend that I am ten years old?” (Since there’s a ten year old trapped inside me, this question comes naturally.)

Every single solitary time a board member or staff member is asked the question, “Tell me a little bit about your organization,” there is a big fat opportunity. So why do I rarely get a simple, direct answer?

“So tell me a little about your organization.”

A simple enough question. You’d think this would be a lay up for any executive director or board member.

I wish.


Here are a few ways you’re messing up your nonprofit elevator pitch.

1. Assume

I teach a nonprofit communications class at the University of Pennsylvania and I have my students read a book called Made to Stick  (highly recommend it – quick read). In it the authors talk about what they call the “curse of knowledge” — a presumption that your listener is inside your head, your sector, your organization.

2. Provide a List

An example would be nice, but really what I want is one or two sentences I can hold onto so that when I get home and tell my wife that I was at an event and met this really interesting woman who worked at the ABC Organization, I can tell her something that makes her say, “Wow. That sounds like a great organization.”

Lists don’t get that kind of reaction. Just sayin.

3. Lead With Your Vision

Let’s assume your organization has a vision (sometimes not a great assumption, I am sad to say.) If you start way too broadly, you can either emotionally paralyze your dinner companion or cause a shut down. “Our organization is working to end slavery.”

I’m not sure what question to ask as a follow up. And by the way, as a relatively intelligent individual (with a tendency for snappy retorts), I’m keeping myself from saying “Good luck with that.”

So you can’t get too specific and you can’t go too broad. And you have to assume I’m ten.

So what DO you do?


1. Change the Question

What an ‘aha moment’ during my media training before a national television interview. “You do not have to answer the question you are asked,” I was told. “Just figure out a way to answer the question you think SHOULD be asked.”OK, so I might ask you: “What does your organization do?” This question leads to a list. Or it leads to the paralyzing vision. So pretend that what I actually say is, “Tell me about your organization.” This gives you the opportunity to tell me what you want to tell me. And besides, that is the question I really want to know the answer to.

2. Take Your Mission and Bring it To Life

If you start your answer with, “Our mission is…,” while I may not actually get up and head to the bar, in my head I’m thinkin’ cosmo.Instead, how about a sentence that starts with “We work to ….” Take my friends (and clients) at The Somaly Mam Foundation. If you are lucky enough to meet one of their talented staff members at an event, you might hear them say:“We are working to end human sex trafficking in Cambodia. We help victims to escape, we help these young girls rebuild their lives and achieve economic independence. And we engage with the government and corporations to fix the root cause. Because we know if we can do that in Cambodia, we’ll be on the road to ending sex slavery for good.”

3. Ask Your Own Question

Once you’ve brought your mission to life, let me take it in for a second and then turn it on me. Ask me a question. I’m a fan of “Did you know…” questions. For the Somaly Mam Foundation, it may be a question to make a point about the scope and magnitude of sex trafficking worldwide. If you work for an organization that advocates for kids, maybe you ask me something about MY kids.This question and exchange engages me and provides implicit permission from me for you to keep talking. You have changed this from a monologue to a discussion. You’ve just bought yourself time to tell me more.

4. Give Me One Example 

Clear, quick and simple. Here are two examples:

We just opened a beauty salon in Cambodia in partnership with Estee Lauder. Our girls are learning marketable skills and learning to run a business. Estee Lauder has been an amazing partner. (

We lobbied the New York Times to include same sex couples on its wedding pages. (

5. Let Your Passion Come Through

This is critical. If by any chance you have engaged me in a deeper way, I want to hear that you love what you do, that the work is hard and rewarding, that while there is never enough time or resources, it’s a privilege to do the work. You just might get me to ask if I can help.

6. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice kid, practice. Practice with your board at board meetings, with your staff at staff meetings. This is not a luxury item. Each of you is an ambassador and you have to get this right.

You have to get me at hello.


I have a question for you. Tell me about your organization. What does it do?

Go ahead, give me your nonprofit elevator pitch in the comments (below.) Give some feedback to others who have already commented.

Let’s start a really great conversation so we can all help each other get better at this and grow our nonprofits.

Joan Garry
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Joan Garry

Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.
Joan Garry
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  • SethMRosen

    Joan, I usually say something like this:

    Gay Men’s Health Crisis provides men, women, and youth affected by HIV and AIDS in the New York City area with the services they need to stay healthy. We work with people who are both HIV negative and positive, and we provide testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services all day long at our two centrally located offices in Manhattan. We also advocate at the local, state and national level to make sure that people affected by HIV are treated equally and fairly. As the world’s first HIV and AIDS service organization we are experts in providing the services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. You may have recently seen our groundbreaking work with young gay men of color featured on the front page of the New York Times in December. Can I take your card so I can send you an invitation to AIDS Walk NY in May?

    So in my speech there are a few things I always trying to work in. First, that we serve woman because some people still think we only serve men because of our name. Next, I do a quick list of our services since not enough people know that we provide a full complement of services, including meals and mental health counseling. Finally, I always try and ask for a card and to work in AIDS Walk because so many people in the NYC area have some connection with AIDS walk, and its a great way to get people involved.

    • Joan Garry

      So for other readers, Seth is a development director. He SHOULD be really good at this :) But of course as I noted above, it is sadly often the case that folks are not. Seth – I was wondering if you could lose the NYT piece to shorten it. But I get why you included it – it’s about “front page NYT.” The one question I did have for Seth is about the title of the org. Do you always go with Gay Mens Health Crisis? Why not just GMHC? Lastly, thank you so much for sharing your pitch.

      • SethMRosen

        Joan, thank you. i do move between GMHC and Gay Men’s Health Crisis based on the audience, but for the right person including gay, health and crisis is important. I’d add that part of the elevator pitch is about reading your audience. It’s not a race to get through the whole thing, but rather you want to read the body language and facial expression of the person you’re talking to in an attempt to find out what is resonating.

  • Jim Marhold

    Joan, my answer is usually much shorter. (Maybe the line at my Starbucks isn’t as long as other places). I will usually state: Declarations provides homes and support services to individuals with disabilities throughout NJ.

    • Joan Garry

      Hi Jim. Thanks for sharing this with us. Some constructive feedback? Short is great (and I need to know the address of this Starbucks with a short line :) Two observations. (1) I’d like to know a specific example or a few examples (list) of services you provide. I might want to know either how many people you house or the # of clients you serve each year (2) I’m fascinated by the title of your organization. While I’m waiting for my latte, I will definitely ask. Not sure you should add to the pitch though. Wonder what other readers think? Thanks again.

      • Jim Marhold

        Joan, Thanks for the feedback. In my experience, shorter has always been better. With the longer speeches, one runs the risk of sounded too rehearsed. I have found that this “answer” usually results in additional questions similar to the one’s you posed. Hence, more buy in to the conversation. If no follow up questions are asked, the odds where they would have tuned out in the middle of a longer elevator speech. (I formerly worked at an agency that had an a long speech and I could see where people tuned out). As for the name of the organization, our role for our consumers is to help them gain their independence. As our founding fathers taught us, independence starts with Declarations.

        • Joan Garry

          Love that. Independence starts with declarations. Keep up the good work Jim. And thanks for being a part of my subscriber tribe!

  • Valerie Young

    I’m fairly new to this, but I absolutely love your blog and think your feedback on my elevator pitch would be invaluable! So, here goes…

    Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a nonprofit on the coast of Maine. Our scientists seek to understand the processes driving global oceans and how the oceans relate to life on Earth. The scientists at the Laboratory come from all over the world to conduct their research, which focuses mainly on microbial oceanography – examining the smallest organisms in the ocean such as phytoplankton, algae, and viruses. Bigelow is also the home to one of the world’s largest collections of algae and sells these strains to other academic & research institutions and industry partners, such as pharmaceutical companies.

    At any given time, our scientists can be found out in the field from the polar regions to the South Pacific, collecting data to bring back to our state of the art laboratory facilities for analyzation. The new, LEED Platinum building houses some of the most advanced technology for single-cell sorting and genomics studies in the world. Some of the most important, current debates are surrounding ocean acidification, climate change, and ocean health – and at Bigelow Laboratory we’re studying the most fundamental pieces of those puzzles and helping to increase the world’s understanding of these ecosystems.

    It’s a bit long, I know. I try to point out right away that we are indeed a nonprofit (many people think we are a government-funded org due to gov’t research grants). Also, I like to note that we are located in Maine but do research all over the globe. Very much looking forward to everyone’s remarks – thank you!

    • Joan Garry

      Valerie. Thanks for jumping into the conversation. You’re right it is long and my latte would no longer be hot :) but you have a lot to communicate and it’s quite technical. So you have a tough job. Some thoughts from me and then perhaps others.

      If you want folks to know about the global reach, tell em right up front. Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a nonprofit on the coast of Maine that does research worldwide OR that brings researchers from around the world together to…..

      To what? your next sentence is technical and vague. Pretend I am 10 years old. What problem are you trying to solve? You are trying to understand the processes IN THE SERVICE OF SOLVING WHAT PROBLEM?

      As for the rest of it, take the language out of the lab and put it at a kitchen table. What difference is your work making to me in my life or to my kids and the world I will leave behind. This might help you rethink the pitch. Hope this is helpful

  • WinChesson

    Love this post, Joan. Here’s mine for Immigration Equality. Would love to hear feedback from others about how this lands:

    Immigration Equality advocates at the intersection of three of the most potent civil rights issues of our time: LGBT, HIV, and immigration rights.
    We opened our free legal hotline in 1994 with three goals:

    1) End the HIV travel ban, which barred anyone with HIV from entering the United States –even as a tourist even for one day (If there is time, I will ask if they can guess the one exception to that law. The short answer was that if you are straight, you could apply for a waiver.)

    2) Win green cards for the husbands and wives of gay people. Until last summer, our families were force to make the impossible decision between family and country.

    3) Make asylum a possibility for gay and transgender people fleeing
    for the lives and seeking safety in the United states.

    We achieved the first goal in 2010, the second last summer, and the third
    ongoing goal is the core of our work moving forward. As things get worse
    for LGBT people in places Nigeria, India, Russia, calls to our hotline
    skyrocket. Fortunately, we 99% of our cases.

    • Joan Garry

      Hia Win. I like this even though it is a bit long. I like that you illustrate that you are a winner. I would love one statistic that tells me how big the asylum problem is (est # of folks seeking safe haven in the U.S. each year?). I think your last line is so powerful but opens with ‘fortunately.’ How about “I am proud to say that we win 99% of our cases.”

      Other reactions?

  • WinChesson

    I also wanted to share this much shorter pitch one of my favorite colleagues uses:

    In 76 countries around the world it is a crime to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. For LGBT and HIV-positive people, being out or being outed is life-threatening. Immigration Equality is proud to be the national leader in the field we
    pioneered: LGBT immigration rights. Every day we support gay and transgender
    asylum seekers, detainees and binational couples by providing expert pro bono
    legal counsel. We also fight to change the systems that hurt our families.

    • Joan Garry

      I really like this for Starbucks. I don’t need to know that 2 of your three things are done. I need to know what you are doing, how good you are at and that you do this work PRO BONO (missing from the longer version btw).

      The state about the 76 countries is crazy powerful.

    • bill holston

      We at HRI are big supporters of Immigration Equality. We’ve done pro bono legal services for gay asylum seekers here in Dallas. Well done.

  • Theresa

    Long Island Arts Alliance is an alliance of not-for-profit cultural organizations that works to support arts and arts education on Long Island. We curate an online events calendar – – celebrate each October as “Arts Month” on Long Island and provide professional development and support for our region’s artists and art educators. We also give scholarships to high school students who excel in both the arts and academics. In 2014 we launched a monthly half-hour television program -Arts Alive LI Presents – about our region’s cultural arts destinations and the impact of the arts on economic development.

    How’s that?

    • Joan Garry

      I REALLY like this one. I get what you do in that first sentence. And each of your brief examples are very clear and cover a broad range of program work. I’m not sure I would change a word. I’d be interested in what others think.

      • Theresa

        Thanks for the feedback and for your wonderful blog! It’s so extremely helpful and in this case, great to know I’m on the right track!

        • Joan Garry

          I am so very glad you find the blog helpful. It’s very gratifying to hear.

  • AnnTCook

    “Many Voices is creating a movement for gay and transgender (or LGBT) justice from within the Black church.” Usually I pause, because it takes a moment for that to sink in, and for the person to have some reaction, and then I go from there, responding to whatever they express. Usually I go on with something like, “A lot of Black pastors want to be supportive but don’t feel equipped to respond to questions about the Bible, or how can they say that as a Christian? So we provide a safe space in a Black church context for pastors to get up to speed and then speak out publicly. Also, because Black LGBT people haven’t shared their lives that much, we’re sharing their stories through a really powerful video campaign. If you like, you can see them at our website,”

    Would LOVE feedback. Thanks so much for this conversation.

    • Joan Garry

      Ann. Your first sentence really grabs me!!! I want to know more. When I hear more, I learn that the work is about pastors. Even more interested. So why not put the pastors in the opening sentence – right up front. And when you get to the ‘how,’ it gets a bit fuzzy. “Provide a safe space in a Black church for pastors to get up to speed…” Not clear enough to me WHAT you do. I totally get that Many Voices works with pastors inside Black churches to create a movement for LGBT justice. Compelling mission. But I want more specific examples of HOW you do that. And to keep it shorter, you could drop the sentence that explains WHY. Lastly, in the HOW, if you can drop in SCOPE or MAGNITUDE of impact. Last year we trained over X pastors in over Y cities….. Happy to keep this conversation going.

      • Scott Paley

        I’m curious why you think it’s good to drop the “why.” I’ve seen compelling evidence that people care much more why do you something than how you do it. Great TED talk on this –

        • Joan Garry

          Hey Scott. I think it depends on your opening. Sometimes the ‘why’ is implicit in the brief description. Or can be folded into one of the examples. That’s what I was going for with Ann. Build in scope and magnitude into one of your examples and it covers the ‘why’ and the ‘what.’ If you look at Win Chesson’s pitch for Immigration Equality, the shorter one, he starts with the why. It’s not an exact science. And I will definitely check out this Ted Talk.

  • Liz Miller

    Sense of Security provides financial assistance to Colorado breast cancer patients in treatment so they can focus on rest and recovery. Basically, we pay their bills, things like rent or mortgage, gas & groceries and other basic living expenses. (pause to let info sink in)

    Over the past 14 years, we have served more than 1,000 patients by providing $1.5 million towards housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, COBRA or insurance premiums. We are proud that our services allow patients to stay in their homes and have enough good food to nourish themselves and their families. We are small but mighty, and all funds raised stay in Colorado.

    • Joan Garry

      Liz. Home run elevator pitch. Did it come to you naturally or was there a process to develop this. You cover SO much turf in two short paragraphs. Is your board as good at this as you are??? Congrats. This is really great.

      • Liz Miller

        Thank you so much, Joan. There was definitely a process behind our pitch’s development – last year we undertook a Branding committee initiative, and conducted some focus groups with our stakeholders, and most of our board participated as well.
        We’re still working on streamlining some other aspects, such as our tagline and mission statement, so the process is ongoing, however, it’s encouraging to know that we are moving in the right direction. I’ll be sure to share the good news, and hope our example provides food for thought for others in the nonprofit world.

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  • L. Moore

    Ok, so how can you make a quality pitch for an NPO that you are just starting that has not yet provided services yet?

    • Joan Garry

      Great question and easier than you think. Sell the vision. Paint a picture of the roadmap. Get people excited about the journey and ask them to join you on it. Give them vision (“imagine a world with…../ or without…..”) and then give them a taste of the path you are going to take to get there. Position a gift as an opportunity to make this NPO a reality and to start on your way down that path. Hope the advice is helpful. And good luck!

      • L. Moore

        Yes, it is very helpful. Thank you so much.

  • Jesse Gantt

    Hi Joan! Sorry I’m joining the conversation a little late. Just catching up on all the wonderful and very helpful information you share. Here’s what I say:
    The Foundation for Hope is a community outreach organization helping people dealing with bullying, depression, or suicide. We staff a 24/7 hotline providing support, referrals, and crisis intervention. We raise awareness by hosting public engagements in schools and in the community. And we recently opened the A Place for Hope Community Center in downtown Harrisburg to provide a safe space for people to go for support. Our mission is to create a safety net of support so people dealing with bullying, depression, or suicide know that there are people in our community who care and will do everything in thier power to help them through this tough time in their lives.

    New at this, so feedback is always welcomed.

    • Joan Garry

      First of all, thanks for what you are doing. Your organization is clearly filling an important role in your community. I think you can combine the first and last sentence to tighten it up a bit. The other sentences are great with one exception. I’d love to have some numbers to give me a sense of scope. # of calls that come into the hotline. Maybe something about the vision for center??? To inspire me about your new project. Hope this is helpful.

      • Jesse Gantt

        VERY helpful! Thank you so much!

        • Joan Garry

          you’re welcome!

  • bill holston

    Since 1999, we have been providing free legal services to immigrants fleeing violence. We do this through relationships with some of the best lawyers in America, so that with a small intrepid staff of 10 we performed almost 4 million dollars of free legal services.
    Whether it is a pro democracy activist from Ethiopia who is escaping torture, an immigrant woman escaping domestic violence, or a young teenager from Honduras, escaping gang violence we help them start a new life in the United States.

    • Joan Garry

      Bill. Seems like you have had some practice. I think this is great. I clearly get the WHY and i get enough of the HOW. I also LOVE the ‘small intrepid staff of 10″ and “$4 million in free legal services. This is an organization doing great work that makes a very compelling pitch in just a few short sentences. NIcely done.

      • bill holston

        thanks Joan. This is such a great resource.

  • Lisa Franz

    Hi. We are starting a brand new school in Boston and this pitch is written as if we are in business even though we are starting in 2015. We are starting to fundraise now and need feedback on how to get donors invested.

    The Wright School of Boston offers a space where students the tools and skills to
    tackle today’s problems. Rather than be discouraged and overwhelmed, our students are empowered to be the change in the world. Because we know if we can make
    our students tomorrow’s innovators, we are really making tomorrow’s leaders.

    Did you know that anxiety is the number one problem facing children and adolescents today? Did you realize that some of the leading causes of this anxiety are a lack of self-confidence, loss of community, media bombardment, and a lack of
    ability to know what to do with these negative feelings?

    One unit we do is a public health campaign. We know that middle school students are bombarded everyday with the lure of junk food and bad dietary choices. But we all know that preaching to adolescents does not work. Through our food unit, students study the food system in America, as well as the political and corporate decisions behind this system and then they create the public health campaign to combat childhood obesity and dietary health problems.

    We are driven by our desire to help young people navigate the challenges of today’s world by giving them the tools to take charge of their own learning.

    • Joan Garry

      Lisa. I’ve been away – sorry for the delay in replying. First off, a noble mission for a school if ever I heard one. I have a few comments about this elevator pitch. 1) Why would you talk about the school in the present tense when it is not up and running? Often donors like to be “angel’ investors in something new and innovative, getting in on a new idea on the ground floor. Do you miss that excitement messaging it THIS way? 2) You make the statement “students are empowered to be the change in the world. I want to know HOW. What are you doing that is different and 3) you talk about anxiety which interests me greatly but not about how your school will grapple with it and then you drive right to public health which feels unrelated.

      Think about what is really different that will happen at your school that other schools just TALK about. And bring that to life. Condense it. Are you doing coursework on managing anxiety? Now THAT has me very interested! Best of luck and hope this was helpful

  • Lara Maerz

    Shiloh House assists children struggling with behavioral and emotional issues due to neglect and abuse through providing residential treatment that will allow them to transition back into the home if possible or into the foster care system. We provide home like environments with 24/7 awake staff members and have our own on campus schools. Shiloh was founded in 1985 and is the only owner operated facility of our kind still managed by the original owners. Our staff has doubled over the last 5 years allowing us to serve even more children and provide them a safe haven as they heal.

    • Joan Garry

      Lara. Somehow this comment slipped through the cracks for me. So sorry. Hope this response is not too late to be of help. This is a terrific pitch. Really. The only thing you might want to add is what happens after they heal. And what kind of successes have you seen in the kids when they head back to the home? I’m left with a ‘what happens after’ question. But you could use this as a pitch and then in a conversation say “So let me give you an example. A kid came to us xxxxxxx and as a result of our work, she left and xxxxxxx. How wonderful that families have Shiloh to turn to.

  • Jennifer Adams

    Mountain Circle Family Services is a non-profit community based organization, committed to ensuring stability and life sustaining changes for foster and adoptive children. We also have a therapy program and our only fundraiser is an annual Boston Qualifying Marathon is in Greenville, CA – home to less than 1200 people.

    • Joan Garry

      Jennifer. Sorry for the late response. So here are some thoughts. First, working with kids is something that people really respond to so if you can bring this pitch to life more, you can really engage lots of folks. What ARE the programs that ensure stability and life sustaining changes? Workshops for parents? Placement? I can’t tell what you do specifically. Don’t include a laundry list but bring the work to life. And therapy for whom? Lastly, an elevator pitch would not typically include info about its annual fundraiser. You could, after a great pitch, talk about your incredible annual event and encourage the prospect to buy a ticket. And I’m not sure I know why the location of the event is important. Remember to use your time wisely and focus on the why and then bring the what to life for me. Thanks for writing.

      • Jennifer Adams

        Wow. I took our mission statement thinking naively that it would be a great response. I LOVE your comments!!! I’ll work on it.

        • Joan Garry

          Glad I could be helpful!

          • Jennifer Adams

            Mountain Circle is a non-profit organization committed to
            ensuring stability and life sustaining changes for foster and adoptive
            children. We offer extensive training to
            foster parents, programs such as equine therapy and back to school supplies to
            assist the kids, as well as 24/7 support for the foster parents. We match the children to the parents to help
            assure positive, long term foster care placements. We have a therapy program that foster
            children can utilize but is also open to the public. Marriage, family and individual therapy are
            offered daily at our office.

          • Joan Garry

            WAY better!!!!!!!!!! Good luck.

  • Terry Hathaway

    Calgary Crime Stoppers
    helps keep our community safe by providing an anonymous place for the public to
    provide law enforcement information regarding criminal activity. Our call
    centre receives over 10,000 contacts every year which results in 10 new
    “tips” every day. We offer cash rewards for information leading to
    the arrest of a wanted person, seizure of illegal drugs and recovery of stolen
    property. With over 5,000 persons arrested, 13,000 cases cleared and $285,000,000.00
    worth of drugs seized our impact is undeniable.

    • Joan Garry

      Hia Terry. So first off, I am really glad you do what you do. Second off, you score high marks with this pitch. Can you directly attribute the impact metrics to CCS? These things happened as a result of anonymous tips? Over how long a period of time? If the answer is yes, SAY THAT! makes this even more impressive. Do you have paid staff that man the call centre? Or volunteers? Now I’m just curious. And that is a very good thing indeed. Your pitch made me want to know more!!!!!!! Thanks for writing and hope this was helpful!

  • Andrea Taylor

    Hi Joan– I feel very fortunate to have found your site– this is something we have struggled with for a long time. Before I give you background, I’d like to hear how effectively we would be communicating with this elevator speech:

    “Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services– we call it
    GCB, provides people in Southwest Ohio who have serious mental illnesses, like
    schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, the tools and support they need to be
    healthier, both mentally and physically.

    With a recent merger now complete, we now provide treatment for
    substance addictions as well. We are a “one-stop shop” for living more productively with mental illness. From psychiatry and primary care to family counseling and job training, GCB offers a system of hope for our clients and their loved ones.”

    • Joan Garry

      Not sure how your comment slipped by me. So sorry. I do try to respond quickly to all comments on the site. First off, your work is so badly needed. So thank you. The elevator pitch is strong, to the point and clear. It’s missing one important element you might consider. Heart. Or maybe facts. “X thousand people in Southwest Ohio struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. Not everyone can afford private counseling or inpatient services. Both of these issues can tear families apart. ” Maybe a sentence or two like this that adds IMPACT and HEART???

  • Lillian

    “If you look the right way, you
    will see the promise of a better life for you and me. If you
    listen, you will learn, Unique Lady’s in Transition is the “RIGHT TURN.”
    The goals of Unique Lady’s
    In Transition Resource Center offer to meet the immediate needs to assist women
    of domestic violence crisis, by establishing a business that will meet them at
    their cross-road. Our passion
    is to pay it forward by helping to empower other women that are victims/or
    survivors of Domestic Violence. Our vision and mission is establishing a
    business to educate and assure immediate needs to victims.

    • Joan Garry

      Lillian. Thanks for joining the conversation. Sounds like you do great work. First, I’m curious why the organization is called Unique Lady’s In Transition rather than Unique Ladies In Transition…. As for your elevator pitch, I am a bit unclear about exactly what you mean by “establishing a business” — do you help women start their own businesses? Do you provide training to these women so they can? And starting a business is time consuming so I’m not clear about how you “assure immediate needs?” I think these are some of the questions you’d get from folks. Hope this is helpful.

  • Arnold Weinfeld

    Prima Civitas is a statewide nonprofit
    organization working to strengthen Michigan’s economy. We focus on work in four key economic drivers of the 21st century –
    talent/workforce development; innovation and initiatives in emerging markets,
    regional development and global connectivity.
    We leverage relationships with the public and private sector,
    educational institutions and other key partners, to act as conveners,
    connecting assets and working collaboratively as we add capacity to ongoing
    initiatives and new projects.

    • Joan Garry

      Arnold. Sounds like great work. That said, your pitch is very abstract. I want to know HOW you leverage relationships — it’s not clear what you DO. I get the problem. How about a recent success that illustrates the work????

  • Mary Robinson

    We are working to help grieving children and teens who have had a parent or sibling die, to grow up emotionally healthy and able to lead meaningful and productive lives. We provide peer support groups led by adult volunteer facilitators who create a safe environment that allows children to develop health coping skills
    for dealing with the painful feelings that accompany loss and we advocate on
    behalf of these children in schools and communities through our Fostering
    Resilience in Grieving Children workshops and presentations. I believe the world is driven by unresolved grief and that if we can teach children to cope with their pain in healthy ways we will be able to transform grief, loss and trauma into resilience, empathy and compassion, which will create resilient healthy communities.

    Do you know any children currently coping with loss of any kind? It doesn’t have to be due to death.. it can be divorce, a parent or sibling diagnosed with an illness, or simply not making their team of choice.

    One of the really cool programs we have is #Here4U where we go into the schools and train students to be peer mentors and have them deliver a workshop about loss and grief with us for their fellow students.

    Imagine is a labor of love for me. I do this work because there was literally no support 40 years ago for children who were grieving, and I was a child in grief. Actually a teen. My father died of cancer when I was 14 and my brother and I lost years of our lives to unresolved grief. And there was no need for that IF we had
    gotten support.

    • Joan Garry

      Mary. I admire you for the personal journey that led you to this work. I have family that benefit from organizations like yours. Where is your org? Is it local, national, state-based? Would like to know that. I might lead with your LAST paragraph. Did you found the organization? Say so if you did. That is powerful. I like the example you used ALOT. You could probably edit down the original first paragraph and make it a bit tighter but I would open with your last graph. Lead with THAT at an event and you absolutely have captured my attention and my heart. Best of luck and thanks for what you are doing.

  • Arnold Weinfeld

    Joan…you asked for an example of the work Prima Civitas does that might describe my elevator pitch. Here is it is: I-69 International Trade Corridor.
    The Project: Prima Civitas facilitated the coordination of
    four county governments and 31 municipalities to form the extensive I-69
    International Trade Corridor Next Michigan Development
    Corporation (NMDC).
    I-69 Corridor earned International Economic Development Council’s Bronze Award.
    Qualifying businesses benefit from state/local incentives, including real/personal property tax abatements, and tax-free Renaissance Zones.
    Prima Civitas Vice President Jim Smiertka was recognized in a March 21, 2013 article highlighting the promise of NMDC for the region and state.

    • Joan Garry

      Arnold. I love hearing from such a wide diversity of organizations that serve the public interest so thanks for writing. As for your ‘pitch’ you are very clear about what you do and the recognition of the VP offers authority and credibility. What is missing here is the WHY? WHY is what you are doing and accomplishing making a difference? That would help this pitch alot.

  • Samantha West

    Great article, Joan. My pitch below. Looking forward to your feedback!

    The Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Great Lakes Chapter helps the 170,000 families across 23 Michigan counties currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. We provide amazing resources like our website and 24-7 helpline, free classes on everything from the 10 warning signs to how to talk to your family about your diagnosis, and support groups that connect people who are going through this journey so that they know they’re not alone.

    Did you know Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and the only one in the top 10 without a way to prevent, slow, or cure it? And actually, a woman is twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s in her lifetime as she is to get breast cancer. Those facts keep us up at night, which is why we are also fighting every day to increase concern and awareness about the disease and encouraging the government to increase funding for research so we can find a cure and end Alzheimer’s once and for all.

  • Michael Ladd

    The New Albany (IN) UEA has many responsibilities, first among them being downtown revitalization. But we have others as well. Under my tutelage the enterprise zone experienced an estimated $26 Million in private and public investment and an estimated 1,500+ jobs increase while property values increased by an estimated 200% between 2006-2012.

    Other important project include increasing the skill set of our existing workforce, educating new entrepreneurs about our community and working with the state university to educate potential high school and college-age want-to-be entrepreneurs about the pros and pit-falls of business start-ups and ownership. We accomplished our goals by engaging and connecting potential business leaders with existing community business and political leaders through a series of meeting and seminars that discussed opportunities within a community in the midst of revitalization.

  • Meghan W

    I am late to the party, but good advice is timeless. Here is the 30 second elevator speech I wrote today, using Joan Garry’s advice:

    “Roots Ethiopia is working to build a poverty free world. We
    believe there should be no barriers to Ethiopian families succeeding in work
    and at school. We help families send their children to school, we help women create
    valuable local market work, and we join with communities to improve their
    schools so everyone has a chance to learn!
    We know that if we do this in rural Ethiopia, we are building economic
    and educational equality worldwide. We are a smart and small organization with strong local leadership in Ethiopia. We have 100 kids in school, 114 women led businesses, and 7 schools with stand-out learning resources. We are change-makers!

  • Nadine

    The Ladies of Like Minds Community Coalition partner with women, women organizations and other nonprofit organizations to raise money and awareness through our Adopt-A-Prom Program, Great Give Away Program and coming soon the 419 Program. The Adopt-A-Prom Program focus on senior high school girls who need financial assistance with their prom. Through the Great Give Away program women who have been affected by human trafficing and teen mothers have recieved needed donations and funding. The 419 Program is a referral system that will be developed help mothers and girls in need.

  • Chantelle

    I’m super late…

    Family Assistance for Renaissance Men (FARM) is a non-profit
    organization committed to developing relationships between fathers and their
    children. We are rehabilitating the thought processes of fathers and helping
    them to identify and step into their vital role in the lives of their children.
    We provide father accountability counseling as well as father & child
    relationship building activities. We can also offer support for fathers to
    reach their educational and skills training goals. FARM assists with legal adjudication and child support arrearages and we help fathers to secure safe housing. We are the ray of hope to keep fathers connected with their children – physically, financially and emotionally.

    • Joan Garry

      Chantelle. I am even later still. I am SO SO sorry not to respond sooner. This is absolutely terrific. Would not change a thing. I totally get what you do. It’s perfect. I hope there are lots of other organizations out there doing this kind of work.

  • Chris Steinbach

    Muscatine Center for Social Action is a nonprofit organization in Muscatine, Iowa, that annually serves more than 700 men, women and children through its homeless and domestic violence shelters and other programming. After nearly 25 years in our community, we are known locally as MCSA.

    In addition to our shelters, we offer a Homeless Prevention Program and rent 35 dorm rooms to men over age 18 who have steady incomes and need affordable longterm housing. We are also home to a vision clinic for low-income adults, a pediatric dental clinic and a mental-health counseling office.

    MCSA is dedicated to serving those in need. I am the deputy director and my duties include fundraising, grant writing, marketing and public relations.

    • Joan Garry

      Chris — I don’t know how this comment slipped through the cracks. SO sorry. I really like your pitch. You can lose the last sentence of graph 1 to save time. Your second graph is perfect. Maybe one statistic about the NEED?

  • Brianne

    Hi Joan, I just came across this wonderful post and wanted to share our elevator pitch in case you’re still checking the comments. Our organization is all over the place with our offering and this process has been a challenge. Thanks for your advice!

    The Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) is a non-profit association
    for colleges and universities providing services to make their jobs visible
    and accessible to the most talented and diverse candidates.

    We work to create shared resources like our job board and dual-career network so members can make the most of their recruitment efforts and investments.

    Our members are our stakeholders and their success is what inspires our work every day.

    For fifteen years, we have fostered an innovative peer-network of human
    resources, faculty affairs, and diversity leaders. With a growing community of 17 regions, 700 institutions and 4,000 professionals, we never lack in inspiration and learning opportunities to advance our shared goals to achieve equity and

  • Amy Holland

    The Faison Center gives each
    individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder the best chance to improve their life’s
    journey. We believe that individuals with ASD can lead productive and meaningful lives and Faison is committed to
    providing the tools to make that possible.
    Our services span the life cycle and include early intervention, full
    time day school, life skills and employment training, consultation, adult day
    services and residential options. The
    most recent feather in our cap is the Faison Residence which offers supported,
    semi-independent living to individuals on the spectrum. Everything we do is research driven – we only
    use proven strategies that deliver results.
    In keeping with our holistic approach, The Faison Center also serves the
    Greater Richmond community and Central Virginia by developing autism education
    practices and programs for teachers, medical professionals, school
    professionals, first responders, families and the general public. Exceptional progress is made possible every day
    at Faison.

    • Joan Garry

      Amy. Clearly your organization does amazing work. The challenge here is that this pitch is too much of a laundry list. You sound like a huge organization doing incredible things but this is too scatter shot. One thing that might help you in materials or on your website is an infographic that follows someone diagnosed with ASD – almost like a timeline of age. At varying points on the timeline, add a service so that folks can easily see the service you provide at different steps along the way. Last thing: just went to your website. Your website leads with the fact that the Faison Center is a SCHOOL. This is lost in your pitch. Hope this is helpful. Joan

      • Amy Holland

        I appreciate the feedback! This is exactly why we’ve entered into a rebranding process. We started as a school and are heavily rooted in that history. But over the last few years we have grown into so much more and our language hasn’t kept up. As of July 1 we are officially The Faison Center but we’re trying to get everything else up to speed. The graphic below is a patch over I had created. Hopefully, we can flesh it out further. Thanks again!

        • Joan Garry

          great infographic! glad i could be of some help!

  • Susan C

    I don’t know if you are still checking comments, but I would love your input on our elevator pitch:

    Lowcountry Autism Foundation strives to improve the lives of
    people with Autism from diagnosis to adulthood.
    Once a child is diagnosed with Autism the family is thrown into a
    complicated web of therapies and services.
    LAF’s goal is to decrease the stress on the family and connect them with
    every available resource. We also
    develop programs to address some of the most difficult challenges that come with
    a diagnosis.

    • Joan Garry

      Susan. Yes, still checking comments – have been traveling recently so I am a bit backlogged. I like what you have here. Here are some suggestions / questions. Can you give any examples of services or resources so the pitch comes to life – the challenge here is that the pitch is not specific enough and the need is not quite clear enough.

      Try something like this

      When a kid is diagnosed with Autism,the family is thrown into a scary world with a complex web of resources. It’s stressful.Lowcountry Autism Foundation serves as your family’s guide through these often bumpy waters. We make it our business to know all the resources out there thanks to a dedicated and knowledgeable staff and help to ensure that your child gets the best care possible and that your family can address the challenges of a diagnosis with a lack of stress and an abundance of resources.

  • rationalpolitics4utah

    I hope you’re still checking these comments. Wonderful article! Thank you. Our small nonprofit would love your help with an elevator pitch. What do you think of this: “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” is the resource-raising and –sharing umbrella
    organization for Utah’s civil legal aid agencies, working for 16 years to
    provide an attorney for Utah’s most vulnerable. Our partners have helped over half a million low-income and disabled individuals and victims of domestic violence meet their most basic needs: ensuring safety, stabilizing families, preventing homelessness, increasing income, and fostering self-sufficiency.

    And we benefit the benevolent by giving donors one legal aid organization to know, love and support (because many can agree that there are just too many nonprofits vying for the same pool of money and limited attention), and do it in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Every dollar donated to AJFA results in $7.27 return on investment in community benefit and savings to the taxpayers. And while many attorneys’ hourly fees can be upwards of $500 or $600, we can tackle a protective order case for just $200, start to finish.

    Did you know that civil legal aid is the number one most effective way to prevent future domestic violence?

    • Joan Garry

      I’m so sorry to be delayed in responding. As my article suggests, there can be a tendency (as a result of enthusiasm and passion) to put too much into a pitch. This pitch is loaded with great info. TOO much. And it’s not clear enough. You are a fundraising organization? Do you grant money to local legal aid organizations? And for statistics, I’d rather know about # of clients whose lives you have changed and compare that with the need.

  • Kaitlyn Bathel

    Here’s my first try!

    Over the past 26 years the Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) has stopped the euthanizing of southern Santa Barbara County homeless cats and kittens for population control reasons. We provide daily care and sheltering for over 1000 cats and foster homes for over 300 kittens every year. We also provide adoption services and assist the public in finding their lost cat. We rely on almost 200 volunteers and have only 4 paid staff members. ASAP is known in our community for ground breaking advertising and adoption promotion strategies, as well as implementing a stellar behavior program to increase the adoptability of the cats and kittens in our care. I’m constantly amazed at everything we are able to accomplish!

    • Joan Garry

      Kaitlyn. First off, I am a pet owner and lover of rescue animals so I’m really passionate about this issue. A few questions. Your opening sentence indicates that because of your org, there is NO euthanizing in southern Santa Barbara county. True?? No other shelter in that area euthanizes? Also I think it should be more prominent that you are all about cats. Interesting that your name doesn’t reflect that. I like the ad and promotion piece. Lastly an elevator pitch would not typically include the last sentence.

  • Susan

    Journey to New Life provides counseling and financial services, including emergency housing, to ex-offenders. We’re proud to make Kansas City a safer place to live and work by showing people how to succeed in a different way of life. Our staff of less than ten people works with over 100 clients every week. While 2 of every 3 ex-offenders in the nation return to jail, less than 1 in 10 of our clients do. .

    • Joan Garry

      Susan. This is really good. I wonder about your use of the word “ex-offenders” – I have heard some organizations use a phrase like “those impacted by the criminal justice system” or “those who have experienced the criminal justice system.” Is there a way in the pitch to diminish the pejorative nature of the phrase. I’m also not entirely clear what “how to succeed in a different way of life” means. Your last sentence is AH-mazing.

      • Susan

        I agree with you on the ex-offenders (trying to be succinct). I’ll also look at rephrasing the ‘succeed’ sentence. I appreciate your feedback, Joan!
        How about “those returning from the criminal justice system”?

  • Daniel DAlonzo

    We are working to reconnect young people and prevent future disconnection.

    • Daniel DAlonzo

      Should I be adding one more phrase at the end where I mention how it’s being done?

      “We are working to reconnect young people and prevent future disconnection by empowering youth to overcome their own obstacles.”

      Any feedback would be great!

      • Joan Garry

        Daniel. Thanks for sharing your pitch. Sounds like you are doing important work but I have to be honest and say that I don’t know, based on this what exactly you do. Reconnect young people to????? Each other? To society? What young people? Troubled? Homeless? Give it another go and this time imagine you are typing a note to a 10 year old. Better to start with longer and edit down.

        • Daniel DAlonzo

          ha! Well thank goodness I found you…if it helps, i’m referring to the 6 million disconnected youth in america ages 16-24.

          I am going to try again…

        • Daniel DAlonzo

          We are working to reduce inequality in New Jersey. We help young people who are born into situations with scarce-opportunities because they deserve a chance to enjoy this American life just as much as the next person. We invest in these young people with a wide-range of resources, education, and a lifelong network of support with our mentors and teachers. I am passionate about this because it was not very long ago that I was the person I am helping now.

          • Joan Garry

            WOW. What a transformation. Do you see the difference? Do you FEEL it in your words? You started with a vague tag line and transformed into a invitation to join you in this remarkable and important work. Made ever so much more meaningful because of your profound connection to the work.

            No need for any HOW. Your pitch will lead me to ask questions as I will want to know more!!!

            It’s fantastic!

          • Daniel DAlonzo

            Sorry for delay! Your comment inspired me so much I just ran with the energy…it was the first time I smiled all weekend. Thanks for being there :)

            I have this pitch tomorrow at 11am. I first met with this group about a month ago – one of my partners/team mates was able to facilitate that connection – I spoke for about 5 minutes last month just to intro myself and for them to see if they wanted me presenting any longer than 5 minutes. Now they scheduled me for 25 minutes tomorrow.

            I was thinking of talking for maybe a few minutes and then getting the conversation going. what do you think?

            I know it’s late now so no worries if you don’t get back to me tonight, but do you think I should go through the 5-8 minute pitch or go slow…almost slide by slide and ask them for information before moving on to the next point. Let them build the idea together with me as we move through the high-level framework of what I am thinking. It takes a lot of pressure off me just to talk to your comment box – feels like someone is listening.

            I was asked to give an intro pitch about a month ago where I tried to keep people excited. They were

  • Ryan Bunch

    A little late to the party, but this is a significant issue for us and would appreciate any feedback you might have. Here is the most current working draft.

    The Arts Commission is an artist service and advocacy organization that manages Toledo’s public art collection, engages youth in the arts, and supports arts-based and culturally-based community development, all working together to enhance arts and cultural experiences and opportunities for residents and tourists, while fostering a supportive environment for artists of all kinds to live, work, and create in Toledo.

    We are home to the first public art program in Ohio, have hired more than 1000 youth apprentices for intensive summer training learning job skills and creative skills over the past 20 years, are working to lead arts-based neighborhood redevelopment in and around the downtown Toledo area to highlight and connect the unique cultural assets of each, and we offer opportunities to educate and train local artists for professional development.

    • Joan Garry

      Ryan. The party is ongoing! This is really fantastic. Your last graph rocks. One of the best succinct descriptions of what an arts commission actually DOES. We know why they exist but you actually explain the what. If you needed to condense, you could tighten up the first graph a bit – it gets a bit list-heavy. Could you go from “advocacy organization that enhances arts and cultural experiences….. ” as a way of tightening up? It’s good as is – I just might recommend getting to that second graph more quickly. i EVEN think you could almost lead with the WHAT graph and tie the vision in at the end.

      As the home to the first public arts program in OH, The Toledo Arts Commission has… THEN at the end add ‘ We do this in the services of enhancing arts and cultural opps for residents and tourists, while……

      Just another way of looking at it. But the goods? You’ve got em.

      • Ryan Bunch

        Thank you Joan, excellent suggestion. Appreciate your speedy reply and great feedback!

  • Stephanie Marquesano

    Joan, so glad I found this thread! Would appreciate any advice!

    What do we do? the harris project raises awareness about a disease few have heard of – co-occurring disorders (COD). It is when people have mental health challenges and turn to substances to self-medicate. 9.2 million Americans meet the criteria for a diagnosis of COD, 60-70% of all addicted to substances have COD, yet we are the
    only non-profit committed to this cause.

    WE ADVOCATE: to make an individualized, integrated and comprehensive treatment model the norm because if you treat the substance abuse side or the mental health side alone, sustained recovery is nearly impossible. Each person and his or her individual challenges must be assessed, the amount of mental health and substance abuse treatment specific to that situation must be determined, and the entire person must be looked at.

    WE EDUCATE: high school and college students about the relationship between mental health challenges and substance abuse – in the 80’s the message was “Just Say No”, but at the harris project we are determined to educate our young people as to why they and their friends should say no. Knowledge is power, and the life of someone with COD is anything but a party.

    WE SUPPORT EARLY INTERVENTION: by certifying people in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA is likened to CPR for the mind. It is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help a young person who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training is very hands-on and comprehensive, helping you identify, understand, and respond
    to signs of mental health disorders and addictions. Supporting our young people
    and their families, letting them know they are not alone, and making good
    mental health and well-being a national priority is critical.

    co-occurring disorders: out of the shadows and into the light

  • Geneva Cegelis

    Freedom and Fashion works to empower young female survivors of the sex trade through creative arts mentorship. We use fashion and beauty curriculum to help them discover their voice, heal from past traumas, and learn marketable skills. We partner with organizations working to fight sex trafficking and child marriage in places like Los Angeles and Bangladesh. If we can achieve our mission in some of the biggest sex crime hotspots of the world, we’ll be on the road to ending the abuse and oppression of women everywhere.

    • Joan Garry

      Geneva. Great! Some thoughts: Raises a few questions that you might want to work into the elevator pitch. do these mentorships lead to jobs? do the partner organizations shelter these women? And then one possible question that could come up — why fashion and beauty? It feels like it reinforces their previous lives as sex objects. I wonder if there isn’t a way to add something to preempt that ‘objection?’

  • Diaryofa1stTimeMom

    We work to ensure that children are a part of every policy discussion. We want elected officials to put the needs of children first when they create or change a law, especially since everything from school funding and meal programs to housing and health insurance directly impact young people’s lives. To do this, we partner with other advocacy organizations as well as service providers, like school districts. We raise awareness about changes needed and influence the governor and legislators. Our voices are much stronger together. If we can get people to prioritize children, we can make Allegheny County the best place to grow up.

  • Greg Hodgin

    Solutions (PS) was founded to revolutionize the way humanitarian
    aid is delivered in the field by treating refugee and internally displaced
    person (IDP) populations holistically. Put simply, PS’s long-term operational
    goal is to deliver humanitarian aid in an integrated way that empowers the
    communities we serve, working alongside them to help restore their hope and
    their dignity. We always start with the most important question: “How can we help you help yourselves?”

    Currently, PS has implemented a pilot project in Gressier, Haiti to address the needs of an IDP community displaced by the 2010 earthquake but who has not received humanitarian aid since 2011. An initial research trip coordinated by PS’ Research Department gathered information through key informant interviews, environmental scans, and group interviews so that PS could tailor initiatives based on the wants and needs of the community. The results showed that the community needed access to water, sanitation, and shelters in the present however economic opportunities and education seemed to be a more long term goal for the community. PS created an initiative based on the data collected which included bringing water collection/filtration systems, providing agricultural tools for economic opportunities, as well as school supplies and shoes for the children of the community. Every part of aid given was determined by the community in collaboration with our organization.

    • Joan Garry

      Greg. I love how this is written. And the second graph brings the work to life. But what if you had half the time ?

      • Greg Hodgin

        I’m assuming speaking twice as fast isn’t acceptable?

        Very well.

        PS does something simple, yet revolutionary: after a natural or a man-made disaster, we ask displaced communities how we can help…

        Then we do it, and make sure we give those communities the space to empower themselves.

        It’s as simple as that.

        • Joan Garry

          Greg. I like this one very much, especially sentence 1. I might add just a bit to the second one to make that more tangible and real.

          • Greg Hodgin


            Thanks so much for the replies! This is helping me focus a bit, I admit.

            Unfortunately… I get what you’re saying in regard to the second sentence, but the issue is that we don’t have a specific plan until we ask first. Do they need a school? Then we plan for that. A clinic? Shelters? A specific kind of water system? We plan for that, but until they tell us first (and that’s why it’s so important to do research first), we don’t know.

            What would you suggest, given the stipulations I outlined, to address that second sentence to make it more tangible?

          • Joan Garry

            Greg. Say something JUST LIKE THAT. How about something like this? (then I must go back and watch the Mets lose)

            After a natural or a man-made disaster, we ask displaced communities how we can help. They tell us and we get to it. It could be a clinic, a shelter or a water system. Our work is shaped by the communities we serve. By putting these communities in the driver’s seat, we empower them and partner with them to rebuild their lives.

            Hope this is helpful

          • Daniel DAlonzo

            note to self: save Mets games on my calendar as potential dates Joan is available to write mission statements!!


            @greg_hodgin:disqus sounds like your project is awesome and definitely needed. Your empathy is glowing through your prose. I will be of great value to not only your project, but also the many lives you will impact.

            Please feel free to add me to your update list if you have one or if you have a link I can click through.

          • Greg Hodgin

            @socialentrepreneurship:disqus absolutely! We’re at Pardon the mess; we’re revamping the website right now but we are excited for the future and the ability to help people help themselves.

            @joangarry:disqus, It is very helpful, thank you so much for your input! I wish I spoke/typed half as well as you did! It took us years to stop speaking “academic-ese” and break down our mission into easily digestible chunks. I am heartened that we can finally do that now. Keep up the great work here!

  • Jolie Singletary

    Thanks for any advice you and your readers can offer:

    The Free Clinics enhances the healthcare system in Henderson County and Polk Counties by ensuring the accessibility of quality healthcare for uninsured, low-income clients through a team of community volunteers. At TFC our community comes together to help our most vulnerable neighbors address their healthcare concerns with everything from access to a doctor’s visit to prescription assistance to helping with food and transportation challenges that can impact our patients’ ability to stay healthy.

    Many people don’t realize that 1 in 5 residents of Henderson and Polk counties still lack insurance even with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. At TFC we know that health is everyone’s responsibility and we work together to make Henderson and Polk County a healthier place for our neighbors in need and for ourselves.

    At TFC anyone can make a difference as a volunteer, an advocate or through a donation. Many of our donors appreciate knowing that we turn every dollar we receive into $8.53 worth of care for our patients! Can I bring you over to TFC for a tour? I know you’ll be amazed!

  • Jeane Spada-Allgood

    One of the challenges we face with our organization is differentiating it from therapeutic riding, so we had to find a way not only to emphasize what we do, but what we don’t do. Here is what we have come up with:

    LEAD with Horses provides educational and therapeutic equine programs in Washoe County. LEAD stands for Leadership, Education, and Active Development. We use horses to promote positive change and personal growth for children, adolescents, and young adults.

    Our programs focus on positive skill development and mental health. The activities are ground based; most don’t involve horseback riding. Caring for and working with horses can be a powerful experience. Did you know that horses have been shown to lower heart rate and stress hormones?

    Horse programs can be particularly beneficial for kids struggling in traditional educational or therapeutic environments. We serve children with autism; at-risk youth; and kids facing learning, social or emotional challenges. LEAD combines proven educational and therapeutic approaches with the power of horses to support, encourage, and empower young people.

    • Joan Garry

      Jeane. THIS is what I love about my work being introduced to remarkable organizations like yours. OK, so I played around with yours a bit. Here’s what I did. See what you think.

      LEAD With Horses serves kids with autism, at-risk youth and
      kids with learning, social and emotional challenges through the power of
      horses, remarkable animals with the power to lower heart rate and stress
      hormones. Our gifted staff uses proven educational and therapeutic approaches focusing on positive skill development and mental health. We offer our extraordinary kids the opportunity to care for and work with our extraordinary horses.

      It is (a) shorter (b) I removed things I believed were superfluous (c) I went RIGHT to who you serve and (d) I really wanted to talk about the power of the horses. As you’ll see, I put the horses and your kids on an even playing field. They are both extraordinary.

      You don’t have to say what your organzation ISN’T. As long as you are clear about what it IS.

      What do you think????

      • Jeane Spada-Allgood

        Thanks for the quick reply – and the awesome changes! As much as I work to be concise, I am an academic at heart and just can’t seem to limit my words. This is quite helpful and I will definitely make the changes.
        I do still worry that people misunderstand and assume that we are therapeutic riding. Perhaps this is something to be addressed in a deeper conversation and not part of the elevator speech.

  • Diana Waters

    Our goal is to make one’s life better through art. In diversity of our collection, programs and special exhibits, we work to engage our diverse community, and need your help to make this happen.

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