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3rd – 5th July 2017
The Barbican

Do you have the Perfect Pitch?

: Lizzi Hollis

Lizzi Hollis knew she wanted to get involved in last year's Perfect Pitch at Convention, but was a little apprehensive. Here, she explains why you should embrace the opportunity head on...

Corporate Partnerships weren’t my sole role at my organisation and I was the only one on my team who had any experience of working with companies. It seemed like a really fantastic opportunity though, so I decided to go for it. I roped in Nick, my teams Trusts Officer and we got to thinking about who we could pitch to on behalf of The Children’s Society. We chose Lego.

We decided to start off our presentation with a traditional game of Simon Says. We asked people to stand up, turn around, jump up and down – it was interactive and fun and it engaged the audience, something all fundraisers in a corporate pitch hope to do. Then we introduced The Children’s Society by changing the tone of Simon Says. “Simon Says get in my car” “Simon Says watch porn with me”. I became "Becky", a young teenager who was being exploited by her older boyfriend.

At first I was nervous about the role play – was it a step too far? Would I deliver it in a way that was emotional and engaging? Even as I was delivering Becky’s story in first person I knew it was having the desired effect; I had engaged my audience.

The commercial panel who attended the session had an opportunity to give feedback on our pitch. Mostly they gave a positive response, although suggested that the ‘Simon Says’ aspect might not work with every audience and could be perceived as emotionally manipulative. While I do understand this rationale, I don’t think I would shy away from this kind of pitch in future – fundraising is about storytelling, appealing to people’s emotions and presenting them with a problem that they can help overcome.

The Simon Says aspect of the pitch gave us the opportunity to interact, to tell a story faced by thousands of children, to build that vital emotion before we told the audience their role in solving it. Of course, this type of presentation will not work with every audience, but I think as long as you as a fundraiser have done your homework and know who you’re presenting to – then you’ll only do it when you know you can get it right.

If we were to do this pitch again we would also focus more on what the company can do to solve the problem and how we can help overcome their challenges. Now, I would think about the market challenges that Lego face every day – the threats that undermine their business practice and the opportunities this can present. By doing this I would be able to show a greater understanding of who they are as a company and why a partnership with The Children’s Society is so vital to solving their problems, as well as our own.

It’s not often we get to see other organisations pitches or see how fundraisers from different organisations would present your cause and from doing both we can learn so much. Watching Lisa and Kirsty from The Children’s Society pitch to Virgin TV for Independent Age certainly gave me lots of new ideas as to how I present my organisation and that really helped me explore my own pitching style. I learnt from them that not all presentations need a gimmick to be memorable and that simply showing what the charity means to its beneficiaries can be just as engaging. 

Taking part in Perfect Pitch is a wonderful opportunity to practice your presentation and pitching skills in front of a fully supportive audience who want to be inspired by you. You’ll look out into the audience and see many smiling faces, willing you on to do your absolute best.

We all have parts of pitching that we could be stronger at, but we don’t always get the opportunity to work on them organically, other than the pitch itself. If there’s any area of your pitch you want to work on in an environment where your nerves are real, but the stakes are lower, then Perfect Pitch is definitely the platform for you.

I would recommend to any corporate fundraiser, whether you’re new to pitching or looking for a new challenge, to apply for Perfect Pitch 2017. We can always keep developing and this session is a great opportunity to do so.

Lizzi Hollis, Corporate Partnerships Manager, St Mungo's

Lizzi took part in Perfect Pitch 2016 - are you looking to take on the challenge this year? Apply now for Monday 3rd July or Wednesday 5th July, by emailing the team!


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