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Pitching Digital Projects to Nonprofit Leadership

We’ve covered a lot of best practices on the Firefly blog. From ways to evaluate websites, to tips for improving donation forms and peer-to-peer campaigns. If this advice has helped you realize that a project is indeed what your organization needs, one of your next steps is to convince decision-makers. Whether you’re a mid-level manager and need to get your ED fired up, or you’re a director who has to get board buy-in, this is no small task. Here are a few suggestions as you prepare your pitch.

Know Your Audience

As someone who knows your digital tools well, you think about the challenges you face each day get them to work better for you. It’s possible, or even probable, that your organization’s leadership is not aware of these challenges at the same detailed level.

  • Make sure to begin your pitch with the problem your organization is facing and situate your proposal as an opportunity to solve it.
  • Tailor your presentation to the management style of your director or board. Keep it brief – they don’t have a lot of time for a deep dive.
  • Leave behind an outline or one-pager so they can refer to the details and move forward with next steps such as securing funding or searching for a consultant.
  • Make sure your pitch doesn’t exist in isolation; it should be part of an ongoing conversation about the work your organization does to implement its programs. To that end, if your organization has a strategic plan, connect the project to your big picture goals so decision-makers understand how your project aligns with the organization’s overall direction.

Quantify the Benefits

Make sure to talk about the impact of your project – your directors and board are responsible for ensuring that the organization is achieving its mission, so paint a picture of how this project gets them to that goal.

  • Don’t overlook the importance of how upgraded technology will save time, meaning employees can focus more on higher value tasks.
  • You can even talk about how the project can contribute to professional development for staff. If they’re not frustrated with insufficient tools, they’re less likely to leave and pursue opportunities with an organization that has best-in-class infrastructure and processes.
  • To the best of your ability, provide examples, best practices, metrics, and sources to back up your proposal.

Do Your Homework

While you don’t want to get too stuck on a particular solution, it can be helpful to show you’ve done your research.

  • Accompany your proposal with screenshots of various tools or site designs and come prepared with a budget or rough estimate. You can reach out to peer organizations or consultants (like us!) to get this information.
  • Think about timing here – you want to tie the budget to your organization’s regular planning process so you’re proposing the project at a time when it can actually be included. If you anticipate that funding will be an issue, it’s helpful to present your project in phases by the quarter in which you’d like them to happen.
  • Create a vision for how staff will be involved and how the project will fit with everyone’s day-to-day responsibilities.
  • If there are key considerations such as other big-ticket items or events, make sure they know you’re aware of the timing and how this project will fit with other priorities at your nonprofit.

Keep It Top of Mind

Ensuring that your leadership doesn’t forget about this potential project is important. You have deadlines to meet and goals to achieve and sometimes they need to be reminded.

  • Make sure that this first pitch, whether it happens in person, or via a written document, is the initial step of many. The project you are pitching might be the single biggest thing you’re thinking about, but organization leaders might not have the same focus.
  • Schedule short follow-up meetings and build out a timeline for the decision-making and implementation process.
  • Check in with leadership regularly to make sure they have everything they need to present the project to potential funders. If they’ve got questions, get them answers quickly. Keep the project on everyone’s radar without being annoying.

There are many more tactics and tips that we can provide if you think you’re ready to put together your pitch. If you need a little help getting everything sorted reach out to us to start the process today.

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