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5 Elevator Pitch Examples From Disability Service Agencies

A look at five elevator pitch examples, why they work, and how to craft one of your own.

“Tell me about your organization” is a question that’s guaranteed to come up, whether you’re at a fundraiser, an industry conference, or out to dinner with friends. 

 

It should be one of the easiest questions to answer as a director or board member. Yet, many of us freeze like a deer in the headlights or find ourselves stumbling over our words. 

 

The most effective way of avoiding this is by having a well-rehearsed elevator pitch prepared for these situations. Today, we’ll look at five great elevator pitch examples from disability service organizations. We’ll go over what makes them work, and how you can apply the same principles to your own elevator pitch — but first, let’s define what an elevator pitch is and how it’s different from your organization’s mission statement.  

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch, also known as an elevator speech, is a short statement that communicates what your agency does, who you serve, and your impact. It’s usually no more than 20 to 30 seconds long, or the length of an average elevator ride — hence the name. The goal of an elevator pitch is to spark interest in your organization and open the door for a longer conversation.  

 

Of course, you don’t have to be riding in an elevator to use it. Your elevator pitch will come in handy anytime you need to quickly explain to someone what your organization does and why they should care about your work. You’ll probably pull it out to introduce yourself at conferences and networking events. You might also use it in one-on-one meetings with a new client, or during recruiting events and interviews to get people interested in joining your organization.  

 

Many people confuse their elevator pitch with their mission statement. That’s understandable, since they’re both related and have some elements in common. Your elevator pitch may even draw inspiration from your mission statement. However, they each serve different purposes and should not be used interchangeably. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences.  

Elevator pitch vs. mission statement

A mission statement is a lofty summary of your organization’s goals and why it exists. It’s usually a single sentence (or part of a sentence). While your mission statement most likely wouldn’t be used in everyday conversations, your elevator pitch would be.  

 

Here’s an example from The Arc that illustrates the difference: 

 

Mission statement: “The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.” 

 

Elevator pitch: The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We encompass all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and various other developmental disabilities. With your support The Arc is leading the fight for equality and inclusion, empowering people to live the lives they want, and inspiring a nationwide movement of advocates.” 

 

Notice how The Arc’s mission statement reflects on the organization’s overall purpose, while the elevator pitch is much more specific and conversational. (We’ll dive more into why this elevator pitch works in just a minute.) 

What makes a good elevator pitch?

Now that you know what an elevator pitch is — and what it’s not! — you might be wondering what makes a good elevator pitch. That’s a tricky question because there is no one “right” answer. Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a good elevator pitch, depending on their individual values and interests. However, all good elevator pitches have a few characteristics in common.  

 

A good elevator pitch is:  

 

  • Succinct: around 20-30 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride 
  • Memorable: explains what you do, who you serve, and your impact 
  • Interesting: uses data or real-life examples to add interest 
  • Well-rehearsed: practice until it’s effortless! 

 

Of course, the best way to understand what makes a good elevator pitch is to look at some examples.  

Elevator pitch examples

Since elevator pitches are mostly used in one-on-one conversations, it can be difficult to find an example to model yours after. We’ve rounded up some examples of elevator pitches — or content that we think would work well as an elevator pitch — from disability service agency websites and marketing materials, as well as our own conversations.  

Elevator pitch: “The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We encompass all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and various other developmental disabilities. With your support The Arc is leading the fight for equality and inclusion, empowering people to live the lives they want, and inspiring a nationwide movement of advocates.” 

Image Source: The Arc

Why it works:  One of the biggest challenges of crafting an elevator pitch is summarizing what you do in a succinct way — especially if you do a lot of different things, like The Arc does. On its fundraising page, The Arc perfectly manages to simplify what it does, who it serves, and why it deserves your donation into easily understandable language that most people can embrace and feel good about. We think this would make a fantastic elevator pitch to use at a conference or fundraising event. 

Elevator pitch: “Project HIRE is the oldest and largest provider of supported employment in New Jersey. Our Executive Director started Project HIRE more than 37 years ago, as a job coach. Today, we serve around 550 people in 14 counties. Our staff are out in the community every day helping folks with disabilities to either look for work, maintain the jobs that they have, or learn new ones.” 

 

Why it works: Project Hire’s elevator pitch makes a memorable impression right out of the gate by stating that it is the “oldest and largest provider” of employment services in the state of New Jersey. If you were a potential donor or client, this claim would certainly make Project Hire stand out from the crowd.  

Of course, it doesn’t just rely on superlatives to make its point — it backs these up with hard data:    

 

  • started 37 years ago
  • serves 550 people 
  • in 14 counties 
 

Finally, Project Hire brings it home with a very specific example that illustrates what supported employment looks like in action. It’s a remarkably effective strategy that helps Project Hire be remembered over anyone else in the room.  

Elevator pitch: “ODC was founded in 1965 and supports individuals with disabilities in Central and North Central Wisconsin by providing skills training and employment services, and assistance in becoming more active in their communities. In 2020, ODC provided services to more than 900 individuals. ODC relies on community support to provide a variety of employment and community services for people with disabilities. Government funding for our services does not and will never fully cover the costs of offering quality services.”  

Image Source: ODC

Why it works: ODC realizes that not everyone will be familiar with industry terms like “transition services” or “day programs”, so they offer an easily accessible explanation of what the organization does. This is followed up with some impressive data to show how important ODC’s work is to the community: it provided services to more than 900 individuals in 2020! 

 

It then goes on to explain why the organization needs donations, emphasizing the fact that government funding will never cover the cost of offering quality services. Impressively, ODC does all of this in just four sentences. This would make a slam-dunk elevator pitch for a fundraising event.  

Elevator pitch: “SpArc Philadelphia is a family of organizations, including The Arc of Philadelphia, that’s an advocacy organization, and SpArc Services, that’s a day service provider. We work with people with disabilities and their families to ensure that they live their lives to their full potential and that they’re included in the community as much as they possibly can be… If somebody wants to learn how to paint or they want to have their artwork exhibited throughout the city, we’re going to make that happen for them. If somebody wants to be employed, we’re going to help them be employed.”  

Why it works: In spite of what the name suggests, a good elevator pitch shouldn’t feel like you’re being pitched or sold to. That’s why we love SpArc’s elevator pitch in this video: it feels like we’re having a friendly conversation with CEO Laura Princiotta. She offers several examples of SpArc programs, helping us visualize what being a participant is like. If we were considering donating to SpArc, we would immediately understand how our donation would benefit individuals with disabilities in our community. 

 

Also, while we realize this is a scripted video, notice how well-rehearsed it is. The entire speech flows effortlessly, without sounding robotic — which is why practicing your elevator pitch in front of the mirror until you’re comfortable and relaxed is so important.  

Elevator pitch: “We are a nonprofit organization — you’ll be happy to know this — headquartered in Ames, the home of Iowa State University (go Cyclones!). We help individuals with disabilities, their families, and the aging to achieve and maintain financial independence. So we help people be able to get what they need. I know that you love animals — so if you need help with getting a service animal, we can help with that.” 

Why it works: Structurally, Able Up Iowa’s elevator pitch is similar to SpArc’s. It begins with a straightforward explanation of what Able Up is and who it’s for — a nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities achieve financial independence. Then, Executive Director Anna Magnusson reinforces that idea by listing some examples, like helping clients get a service animal.  

 

We can tell from the delivery that Anna has given this elevator pitch many times before, but what stands out is how she expertly tailors the pitch to her listener. Watch how she ties each statement back to his interests — for example, when she references Iowa State University, or observes that he loves animals. This is a great example of how you can tweak your elevator pitch to your audience in order to make it more engaging.  

Use these elevator pitch examples to inspire your own

Your elevator pitch won’t look exactly like these examples, nor should it. What’s important is that you’ve planned out and rehearsed what you want to say when someone asks you to tell them about your organization. 

 

Having an answer ready that is succinct, memorable, and interesting will help open the door to a longer conversation. It all starts with your elevator pitch.  

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