5 Ways Effective Presentation Skills Can Improve Fundraising

5 Ways Effective Presentation Skills Can Improve Fundraising

Your nonprofit’s fundraising professionals shouldn’t just be expert campaign planners—they also must be persuasive, compelling speakers. When your organization’s staff and volunteers can eloquently explain your cause and its importance in a variety of ways, you can recruit more supporters and raise more for your mission.

Therefore, you might be interested in investing in presenter training for your nonprofit’s team members. Whether you’re hoping to improve your outreach at fundraising events or better handle one-on-one meetings with potential donors, speaker training can give your team members a solid foundation for creating compelling presentations. 

In this guide, we’ll cover all of the ways that strong presentation skills can help you reach your fundraising goals. Your presentation skills will help you: 

  1. Make your case in front of large crowds.
  2. Speak persuasively in one-on-one meetings.
  3. Bring your mission to life with stories. 
  4. Design effective supporting visuals.
  5. Manage rejection. 

According to Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s guide to effective presentations, presentation training professionals help coach speakers to “develop their authentic voice and presentation style so they can be confident and effective presenters, regardless of the situation.” Let’s take a closer look at the presentation skills your team members can benefit from while conducting fundraising outreach. 

1. Make your case in front of large crowds.

If you’ve ever spoken at a major event, such as a conference or fundraising gala, you know how intimidating it can be to present in front of a large audience. This is especially true if you suffer from stage fright —  you might be all too familiar with the sweaty palms, red face, and shallow breathing that accompany a strong bout of pre-speech jitters. 

However, if you choose to participate in conference speaker training or a similar training program, you’ll be able to feel just as confident speaking in front of a room of 100 people as you do in a one-on-one conversation. That’s because your presentation coach will help you build upon your natural strengths and create a presentation style that feels right for you. 

When you take the time to get comfortable with speaking in front of large groups, you can successfully deliver your fundraising pitch at the following types of events: 

  • Galas
  • Auctions
  • Conferences
  • Webinars

Plus, you’ll be able to speak confidently whether your fundraising events are online or in-person. Your speaking coach will equip you with the right tools and best practices for speaking in front of online audiences, such as how to set up your background, manage digital engagement tools, and choose compelling visuals. 

2. Speak persuasively in one-on-one meetings.

Hosting one-on-one meetings is a key part of engaging with donors, particularly major donors. According to Double the Donation’s major gift guide, these gifts are among the largest donations your organization receives. Therefore, major donors require special attention from your organization as they become acquainted with your mission and develop relationships with your team. 

When you’ve taken the time to build effective presentation skills, you can create a tailored presentation that speaks to each major donor’s unique interests and motivations. This process starts with conducting background research about your prospective major donors, gathering information such as:

  • Their history of involvement with your organization or similar organizations
  • Their giving capacity, determined by a variety of wealth indicators such as real estate ownership and stock holdings
  • Why they’re interested in your organization’s cause, whether because of a personal connection, their professional background, etc. 

Then, you can take this background information and create a presentation plan that hits home for prospective donors. For instance, perhaps a certain prospect volunteered with a similar organization in college. Or, maybe another prospect is motivated to help your cause because they have a family member who passed away from the disease you’re researching. 

Whatever the case may be, you can create an emotional connection with your donors by carefully planning and researching your presentation before delivering it. 

3. Bring your mission to life with stories. 

Research has shown that stories are approximately 22 times more memorable than straightforward facts. Using storytelling in your fundraising pitches can be a highly engaging presentation format that boosts your fundraising success rate. 

Give your fundraising presentations a unique angle by incorporating anecdotes and real stories that showcase the impact of your organization’s work. Here are a few storytelling strategies that might work best to support your presentation: 

  • Tell the story of one person your organization has helped, then zoom out to connect their story to the bigger picture of why your organization exists and what your goals are.
  • Tell a personal story about your connection to your nonprofit and its mission and what motivates you to stay involved in the cause.
  • Connect your organization’s work to current global or local events, adding a sense of urgency and immediacy to your nonprofit’s projects. 

These are just a handful of storytelling approaches that might work for your presentations. Use your presentation planning sessions or work with your speaking coach to identify the right types of stories to tell that will be most persuasive for your unique audience members.

4. Design effective supporting visuals.

If you’ve been through speaker training before, you know a successful presentation isn’t just based on what you say —  it also depends on what you show

When you choose engaging, informative presentation visual aids, you can further audience members’ understanding of your nonprofit’s mission and your fundraising purpose. However, if your slides are cluttered, hard to interpret, or just plain uninspiring, the visual aspect of your presentation will suffer, and so will your presentation’s effectiveness as a whole.

This makes intentional presentation design planning and training essential. When you spend time learning how to design an effective presentation, you’ll come out with the following know-how: 

  • You’ll know what to include in your PowerPoint slides or other visual aids and what to leave out for maximum audience engagement. 
  • Your presentation will have a clear structure, with a captivating introduction, informative middle, and a call-to-action at the end. 
  • Your presentation will be fully branded to your nonprofit using your organization’s colors, fonts, and logo. 

A speaking coach can offer their expertise and experience to help you choose the right visuals for your presentation. You can also use casual audience research to help you determine the most useful visuals. Send different versions of your presentation to team members at your organization and take a poll to see which visuals they think are most effective for conveying your message. 

5. Manage rejection.

Not every fundraising presentation or event you host will end in an influx of new donations. Nevertheless, the confidence granted to you by your presentation training will allow you to stay calm and navigate through any rejections.

For example, let’s say you’re meeting with a prospective major donor and making the case for why they should support your organization. At the end of your presentation, the prospect says they aren’t quite ready to give a large sum to your organization. With the proper presentation training, you’ll be able to keep the door open by connecting the prospect with other individuals at your organization who can answer their questions or inviting them to upcoming events to learn more. 

When you build up your confidence and approach fundraising with a strong pitch and strategies for pivoting the conversation, you can eventually turn more “not nows” or “maybes” into “yeses.” 

As you can see, when you spend the time developing your presentation skills, it can pay off in dividends when you’re making your fundraising case to different audiences. Ahead of your next fundraising event or presentation, consider setting aside some time to train your team on presentation skills and best practices. Then, encourage them to leverage those skills every time they approach a new fundraising event. 

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Patti Schutte

Patti Schutte is the CEO, Founder, and Principal Coach of Be Brilliant Presentation Group. Be Brilliant Presentation Group’s coaching system results in speakers moving from fear and avoidance to confidence and purpose. If fear of presenting runs through the veins of the majority, then Patti is the minority. She’ll be the one to grab the mic and quickly have the room engaged, laughing, and learning. Not skills you’d expect from someone who has a degree in mathematics. Her unique combination of being analytically minded, extroverted, charismatic, and skilled in presenting and training has guided her career journey. Her diverse presentation experiences include classroom and corporate training, growing and motivating an independent sales force, developing a team of national presenters, speaking at conferences, and transforming the presentation skill of professionals. She believes everyone deserves the advantage of brilliant presentation and speaking skills. If you are tired of giving subpar presentations, frustrated by the opportunity loss you’ve experienced, want to streamline your presentation process, and are motivated to learn and improve, Be Brilliant Presentation Group is ready to work with you! Patti’s four step process efficiently gets you from the brainstorming phase to completed, well practiced slides that you’re proud of and a feeling of preparedness for your presentation. Patti has had many people say they accomplish more in 30 minutes with her than they did in two full days without her.