You’re at an (actual live physical!) event or simcha and you have an opportunity to speak with a potential prospect.  

How can you engage them in a conversation about what you do – so they become a future donor?

For some of us – myself included – there’s a tightening of the chest that happens just picturing myself making a ‘pitch’ to a prospect at an event or simcha.

There’s so much weighing on this opportunity. And making an entire pitch is unnatural since you’re accelerating what normally takes much longer into an unreasonable amount of time. 

There’s a solution that will allow you to reframe these opportunities, so they become less stressful and certainly more successful.

To do these ‘elevator pitches’ right, focus your efforts on just – starting a conversation. 

When your goal is to just start a conversation, you’ll end up with something very different.

Here’s how you can ‘start the conversation.’

When you’re asked the ‘So what do you do?’ question – what you say next is crucial.

Your answer should be no more than SEVEN seconds. Keep it simple, so whoever you’re talking with, will understand what you do.

The response to the ‘So what do you do?’ question is to really answer this question…

   ‘What is the one thing that your organization does, that if you were not here doing it, there would be a real lack?’

Remember, your answer here should be no more than seven seconds. It’s ALL about raising the interest level of the person you’re speaking with.

For Example

   “What do you do?”

   “I head the Vaad Project. We guide Jews to love and find meaning in their relationship with Torah and Hashem.

(Edit your opening line depending on who you are speaking with.)

Now pause. 

If they look moderately interested – they lean in and raise their eyebrows – you may decide to go into your ‘Why Pitch,’ which answers the question – Why this?

So you continue, 

   “Many people aren’t experiencing fulfillment in Yiddishkeit. They experience davening as empty and burdensome. And they feel frustrated that their mitzvos lack meaning. But it does not have to be this way.”

Pause Again. Check where they’re at. If there’s still a mild interest, then you may want to continue.

   “That’s where the Vaad Project comes in. We give Jews, who struggle to connect, but want to grow, the tools to thrive through life’s challenges, find joy and satisfaction in their mitzvas, and enjoy a deep, meaningful relationship with Hashem.

At this stage, either your conversation can continue organically or come to an abrupt stop. 

Either way – your mission is accomplished.

You did much of the work needed to get you to the next stage. For example, at a later time you can reach out to this person to try and meet them again. 

If the conversation continues, you may want to pause and say, 

   “Would you be open to make a time to speak more after this event?”

Remember just starting a conversation to raise the interest level of the other person so they’re open to speak more is 90% of the work.

Next time you’re at an event and an opportunity arises, be on the lookout to start conversations. No pressure.

Before you set out, clarify your ‘seven second’ answer to the question, ‘What do you do?’


Avraham Lewis is ‘The Fundraising Coach‘ for Jewish leaders – with too much on their plate – to accelerate their fundraising success.

See past fundraising posts or learn more at avrahamlewis.com

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