Guide to Pitching Your Idea

Guide to Pitching

How to Woo Funders and Supporters

Contents


Changemakers.com is the place where you can easily broadcast the most current and compelling version of your pitch for social change. Think of it as a stage for you to connect with your audience of would-be partners, investors, and fans—where you share your ambitions and progress.

To get the most from your audience, you've got to give a strong pitch! A pitch is all about defining your vision and selling it. Keep it straightforward. Give the simplest explanation in the most concise way. But let your personality shine through, because your audience is interested in you, the innovator, not just your ideas.

Easy, right? We know it’s not, and we want to help. Drawing on decades of experience in reviewing ideas for social change from around the world, we boiled down the pitch into 7 core questions found here. Put your best foot forward by answering them, and make people understand your vision, and why they should support your work!


1. Problem

Every innovation exists to address a problem. For this reason, framing the problem is crucial to show how your solution is an effective fix.

Here are three key points to framing a social problem, and, by extension, the need for your solution:

  1. Address why it is important to solve the problem. Do not assume that your audience understands why it needs to be solved.
  2. Describe the population that is affected by the problem and the target for your solution. Be sure to give the size of the target population. (Look at Juntos Finanzas and Mobile-izing Health Information for Women and Girls for examples.)
  3. Focus on the nature and characteristics of the problem. A problem has root causes, and it has symptoms that harm society. Are you targeting the symptoms? Or are you targeting the root causes? Hint: The best solutions aren't band-aids. (Check out ICT Solution for JANMA Clean Birth Kit for a great example of how to address the multiple facets of a problem.)

2. Solution

After you’ve framed the problem, define your solution to show how your innovation addresses it. Consider doing the following to give a clear, compelling model of your solution:

  • Provide proof that it works. Has your solution been validated? Has your solution already had a positive impact on the problem? You can elaborate on this more in the Impact section. (Check out Open Africa and Global Press Institute: Digital journalism for women in the developing world for examples.)
  • If your innovation is in the “idea stage,” then there’s no real impact to speak of ... yet. Help us imagine in detail the projected impact of your idea.
  • Show how your solution is unique, fresh, or groundbreaking! When compared with alternatives, your solution is tackling the problem in a new or improved way. (See DUMA - The Future of Hiring in Emerging Markets.)
  • Illustrate step-by-step how your solution produces the intended social impact. This is crucial to understanding how your solution works! (Look at how ADEL - Local Economic Development Agency does it.)
  • Highlight how your solution works within its applied context.

3. Example

You know your solution is making the lives of your target population better or you wouldn’t be creating this innovation. Help us better understand how it improves peoples' lives by walking through an example. Explain your example so clearly and simply that a child could understand it.

If your solution is still in the “idea stage” and hasn’t had a measurable impact yet, consider providing a hypothetical example.

In Other Words, Tell us a Story

Telling a story is a powerful way to show your solution in action. When you tell a story, try to do so from the perspective of your target population. Explain how your work improves their lives and how things might be different without your innovation. This narrative will help people better understand the complex problem you are tackling and imagine the impact of your solution. Check out A Changemaker's Eight-Step Guide to Storytelling for more tips and resources on creating effective stories.


4. Impact

Describing your impact to date is how you can answer the persistent question: “Yeah, but does it really work?” Talk about how your solution works in two ways:

  • Quantitatively: If possible, use numbers to measure your impact (e.g., in three years, more than 235 people have been helped). What indicators are you using to gauge your success? Put those numbers in context (e.g., 59 percent of those helped are now helping others). Explain why the indicators you choose are appropriate. (See eAcademy for Conscious Change for an example.)
  • Qualitatively: A great solution has impact beyond the numbers. Talk about how the social landscape is changed for your beneficiaries. An exceptional solution uplifts spirits and empower those affected by the problem to seek their own solutions. (See Mobile-izing Health Information for Women and Girls and B2R to Create Livelihood for Rural Youth.)

Even if you haven’t had a huge impact yet, demonstrate your potential! It helps to have measurable impact to show that your idea works, but if you haven’t had the chance to put your work into action, just tell us why you know it will matter. There’s a reason why innovation can be labeled as “Idea Stage”: people are interested in great ideas, and Changemakers helps turn ideas into action. Remember, revolutionary impact always starts as an idea!


5. Marketplace

When you think of the marketplace for a particular good, the big players come to mind first. When you think about Internet services, for example, you’ll probably think of Facebook or Google. You may not be the Google of your market, but that doesn’t mean you don’t understand your market, the big players, and how your innovation and your strategy fit into it.

In talking about the market, the strongest pitches do four things:

  1. Address the elephant(s) in the room. Talk about how you will interact with the big players in your market (e.g., if you are in microfinance, talk about how you compare with the Grameen Bank, Kiva, or other big players). People love the little guy who disrupts the market for the big players. Be specific. (See Micro Benefits: Micro Credit for the Next 300 Million for a strong analysis.)
  2. Explain how you might interact with the other players in the market. Changemakers is about collaboration (it’s why we exist!) so don’t be afraid to mention that you are working with others, or have a vision to do so, even if they are seen as “competitors” with your work. (Look at Local Lenders of Knox County.)
  3. Explain how you fit into this marketplace. What are you doing differently than the other players in the market? Are you reaching a previously untapped part of market? What’s your unique competitive advantage?
  4. Demonstrate your knowledge of the marketplace for your work by briefly explaining its characteristics and any unique challenges it presents.

6. Sustainability

Tell people how you plan to sustain your work. Everyone knows a project needs money to keep it running. Do you rely on donations? Does your model include revenue generation? Does it involve training others to take your model and replicate it? Or is it something else entirely?

And don’t be modest. If you have grand plans to scale your work, tell us how you’ll do it, even if you are still working on putting that plan into action.


7. Team

Build your Team

Get your team members to join us on Changemakers.com! If they create a profile, people can check out the other problem solvers on your team. Every team member brings valuable connections that might help build your support network.

Your Founding Story

Everyone loves a good origin story. People want to know how a great idea is born. Your “aha!” moment can help others understand why you are so invested in your mission, how you came up with such an innovative solution, and hopefully make them care about it, too. (Check out Juntos Finanzas's Founding Story.)

Your audience will be more engaged by hearing a founder tell a story than if they read the written version. Take advantage of your ability to put multimedia on Changemakers—make a short video about your story, write a song, create an infographic, or surprise our community with something different. Check out A Changemaker's Eight-Step Guide to Storytelling for more tips and resources on creating effective stories.