What would you say if you had exactly five minutes in which to pitch to an audience of potential donors, many of whom have never heard of you or your charity?
It’s a daunting prospect, but Mia and David absolutely nailed it earlier this month, pitching to a virtual audience at The Funding Network Hertfordshire event for the St Albans-based charity Youth Talk. How do we know they were so successful? Well, they more than doubled their fundraising target, for starters!
Trust me, this clip is worth five minutes of your time. Watch Mia and David do their stuff, and I’ll meet you back here to say why I thought it went so well.
Brilliant, wasn’t it?
“Hey, everyone! My name is Mia.”
Give a platform to people with lived experience
First up, how good was Mia? Don’t forget that this was live, and she could not even see her audience. Nevertheless she spoke powerfully, authentically, and indisputably from her own perspective. She talks openly and clearly about her own mental health battles. Now, while Youth Talk is lucky to have an advocate as eloquent as Mia, my first key point is about giving a voice to people with lived experience.
If you’re a fundraiser, get out of the way, and support them to tell their story.
What is the need and why is it urgent?
In only 2 minutes and 20 seconds, Mia paints a vivid picture of what life was like for her as a young person needing mental health support. She had to be in crisis and would have had to stay in crisis to get access to state-funded mental health support.
Her message is clear: young people like Mia do not have to “hit rock bottom” to access Youth Talk’s free counselling services.
Mia also tackles the “why now?” question head on,
“Young people now, especially now, with schools closed, no access to sports or leisure, and limited opportunity to connect with friends, need support. And this has been shown, since the beginning of the pandemic, referrals to Youth Talk have increased by over 50%.”
The importance of structure: I… We… You…
Having heard about the need from Mia, Youth Talk’s Chief Executive, David, takes up the mantle and represents the organisation, moving the presentation on essentially from Mia’s “I” to Youth Talk’s “we”. How does the organisation address the need she has clearly described?
David breaks his section down beautifully into three parts, addressing the audience directly, so that it is clear what role they can play.
- Remember Mia’s story.
- St Albans needs Youth Talk. Young people need Youth Talk. (with a focus on the charity’s expertise and track record – “We know what we do works”)
- We need your support (with a clear explanation of what donations both larger and smaller will pay for)
David finally repeats and emphasises this clear list, so there is no doubt that it is a direct appeal to the audience. The structure is clear. They started with a personal perspective, then broadened out to talk about the charity’s work, directly and simply pulling in the supporter while doing so. The donor can be the hero. By supporting Youth Talk, they can support young people like Mia.
Think about the pronouns: “I… We… You…”
End with vision
But it’s Mia who has the final words, and her final sentences link the whole pitch together. It is personally felt, but visionary in scope, talking about a dream that the potential supporter can buy into. It’s uplifting, powerful stuff, delivered with passion, urgency, and a smile.
How about that for a good use of five minutes? Is it any surprise that the appeal was so successful?
My dream is for young people to never have to go through what I did. And with Youth Talk and your support, hopefully they will never have to. Thank you so much.
If you would like to support Youth Talk’s excellent work, having watched this film, please visit them here.