When you think about fundraising, do you find yourself dreading the presentation more than the fundraising itself? Do you find yourself spending more time fixing the font, the text, and the clipart rather than working on the actual content of your slides or practicing your pitch?

With thousands of nonprofits turning to Haiku Deck for help in creating their fundraising presentations, we’ve come up with 4 key principles that can help your fundraising presentation be more effective.

  1. One Idea per Slide

Your audience can not read text-heavy slides and listen to your words at the same time. Presentation and fundraising experts agree that minimizing the information on each slide, helps the audience focus on the narrative.

“Presenters often use [their slides] as a support for themselves. The effect is that they use a lot of text on the slides, which is detrimental to the information-processing by the audience,” says Brigitte Hertz1, author of the research paper ‘PowerPoint Slides as Speaking Notes.’ Text-heavy slides actually make speakers more nervous about their presentations.”

International leadership coach and fundraising trainer Marc A. Pitman says, ‘I’m increasingly becoming a fan of using one image on a slide… The results have been extraordinary. My audiences used to get a glazed-over information overload look; now they’re leaving my talks energized and seem to be getting much more from them.’2

2. Have a conversation

Don’t let your audience be passive for too long during your presentation. Start your pitch with a question that gets them thinking. Ask for a raise of hands often as you walk through the presentation.

Ask the audience questions and get them to make bets about what they think is right before giving them an answer. At the end of the talk, repeat the main points, but encourage the audience to summarize it for themselves. When people explain key points back to themselves, they learn much better than when they just hear it,’ says Art Markman3, Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.

No matter how short your time on stage is, the best outcome for you is when the audience remember you long after they’ve gone home.

3. Share a story

While it is important to share information about your organization and related data, keep in mind that your donors are going to have a hard time remembering most of it after your presentation is over.

‘As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to,’ says Chris Anderson4, curator of TED. ‘Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.’

Listeners will remember and act upon stories that bring emotion and humanity to the organization’s work. 

4. Research your big donors

Think back to the thank you letters that you’ve received, and the ones that you remember. How was it that you remember only a handful of letters? Chances are that those were the ones that reminded you of a personal experience you’ve had.

‘Identify who your audience is and what their connection is, or might be, to your story. That way, you can focus on what words and images will resonate with them, rather than what works for you,’ says Alice Ferris, founder of GoalBusters, a consultancy that helps small to mid-size nonprofit organizations.

Research your donors prior to your fundraiser (without being too creepy) and come up with a hypothesis on why they’re interested in helping your cause. Have they donated to similar causes in the past? Addressing this during your pitch will help you stand out from other similar fundraisers that your donors might attend.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at other nonprofit presentations at www.bit.ly/hdnpo

Did we mention that we offer a 50% nonprofit discount? Send us an e-mail at nonprofit@haikudeck.com to get set up.


1 Here’s Why No One Is Paying Attention to Your PowerPoint Presentation by Martha C. White

2 Fundraising Secret #37: Use Powerpoint effectively by Marc A. Pitman

3 Getting an Audience to Remember Your Presentation by Art Markman

4 How to Give a Killer Presentation by Chris Anderson