How to make a 2-minute crowdfunding pitch

There’s no question about it. In the digital age, with less time spent reading online and amateur filmmaking at our fingertips, video has become a critical tool for telling your story. A well-made video is concise and feels personal, and has the potential to be one of the most powerful forms of online fundraising. Sharing your passions and beliefs on video is almost as good as telling someone in person.

On PEAKS, the highest performing campaigns – like The Learning Web – used video to broadcast their message. Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform for creative and artistic projects, requires that users make a video for their fundraising campaigns. Indiegogo cited that 53% of the campaigns that reached their goal made a video of less than three minutes.

Making a short, sweet, powerful and punchy video isn’t easy. As Changemakers, we often get lost in the history of our organization and mission, the details of our programs and vision, and the common fumbling “ask” for money. It’s hard to get crystal clear and reconnect with the moments that motivated you to make the world a better place.

The key to a successful video pitch is finding a good story – that golden nugget which pulls on your viewers’ heartstrings while helping them understand what you do, why you do it and how much you need to keep making a difference in your community. Your story represents 90% of your fundraising pitch, but the remaining 10% – your “ask” for money – is crucial. Your story hinges on the “ask.” So, how do we identify all these pieces and put them together in less than two minutes (which is about as long as you can truly hold someone’s attention online)?

We decided to try something completely new to help Changemakers craft a two-minute pitch in one hour or less. We teamed up with Regi Carpenter (professional storyteller) and Stacey Murphy (professional grantwriter) to work with the Executive Director of The History Center, Scott Callan. Over the course of one hour, Regi and Stacey guided Scott through a series of eight steps to weaving an expressive story with the organization’s mission, and concluding the message with an ask.

We made two videos to take you on Scott’s journey through Regi and Stacey’s eight steps, and showcase his final two-minute fundraising pitch. Below, we’ve included the 8-Step Guide to Crafting a Two-Minute Fundraising Pitch. We hope these tools will help guide your own process in crafting a two-minute fundraising pitch.

For more information about working with Regi and Stacey, email

8-Step Guide to Making a Two-Minute Fundraising Pitch

1. Identify a clear mission statement. What is your organization’s mission?

2. Personalizing the mission statement. What memories from your personal life does the event spark? How does your personal experience influence you in your work?  What makes you want to go to work everyday?

3. Blurt and blab (finding the story). Recount specific stories from your programming that stand out as exemplary moments of your mission statement in action. Be specific: use names, events, places and how the event tied into the overall implementation of the mission. Use your senses and emotions, and describe the setting.

4. Connecting the mission, personal experience and story. Craft the story that combines the event, your connection to the event from your life, and how the event is an example of a living mission statement. By this I mean, how does the event move beyond words and into actions that affect people positively? How does this validate your work and your organization’s programs?

5. Great story. Now, the ask. Many fundraising appeals fail merely because no one actually asked anyone for anything!

6. The dark side: how do you feel about asking for money? What is hard about asking for money?  Get clear on what makes you uncomfortable about it? Why do you support the causes you do? When a donor makes a gift, he or she becomes a partner in a cause that is bigger. To work for important purposes and to take part in solving problems of great magnitude gives deeper meaning even to daily routines. People want to be involved in something with meaning. Shift the perspective: it is not about you, it is about the donor sharing your experience of changing the world!

7. Getting the words out: crafting a simple, short message. Begin with your story. Start with just one sentence about why you personally believe in the organization’s work.  “As you know, my brother has Asberger’s Syndrome, and not much was known when we were kids. I think of what this program could have done for him when he was struggling.” Now, ask them to give.

- Option 1: Keep it super-simple. For example, “will you consider making a gift of $100 to this program?” Take a deep breath, say it and exhale. Use a specific dollar amount. “Will you support our cause?” isn’t clear enough to show you are truly asking for money. One person’s idea of “support” may be forwarding your email and forgetting about it. Do the donor prospect the courtesy of plainly telling them what you need.

- Option 2: Be specific. People like to know that their donation is doing something specific and concrete.  For example, “Sponsoring a child for the summer lunch and recreation program costs just $31 per child.” Or “I’m trying to raise $1,000 for the History Center’s education program. Will you donate $100 to help me reach that goal?”  You can always say “Every dollar helps. We appreciate whatever you can give.”

- Option 3: Don’t ask them to donate. Ask them to join you.  For example, “Please join me in supporting this campaign. X amount would be wonderful, but honestly, any gift helps.” This helps them understand you’re in it together. If you have talked about the work of this organization with your friend before, and know they feel the same, say something like “I know you think opportunities for youth to grasp global warming are just as important as I do. I hope you’ll join me in this campaign and spread the word, too!”

8. Keep three things.

- Keep Quiet.  Asking for money can be daunting. Silences can feel like they last an eternity. While social media makes this easier, you may still feel like it’s hard, especially when you follow up with friends in person. When that happens, just say, “I really appreciate you considering my campaign.” Then, don’t change the subject to your kids or the weather or whatever might seem less prickly. Just stay quiet. It’s a great skill that all salespeople and successful business owners have learned and practiced – despite their discomfort at first.

- Keep your Perspective.  A really great batting average is far less than a hit every time. The law of asking for business, or donations, is that you have to ask many times to get the number of “yes” answers you will receive. A no is OK – you are just getting one step closer to your next “yes,” and in the process, telling one more person about your cause.

- Keep your chin up. You support a mission you feel very strongly about, or else you wouldn’t be trying this! For you, success comes in just making the offer to share your great organization with others by telling its story.

Always remember to conclude your pitch and “ask” by thanking the person. When someone becomes a friend of your organization, be sure to thank him or her personally, and see that they were properly recognized by the organization.

For more information about working with Regi and Stacey, email



Gail Perry: “Four Steps to Take Board Members from Fear of Fundraising to Enthusiasm
Kirt Manecke: “You Must Ask for the Donation (if you Want Funds)
Marc A.Pitman:  “two phrases to use when asking for money




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
Add Comment Register

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


    In partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, PEAKS supports changemakers working in five program areas.