In the world of fundraising, captivating donors with a compelling story is paramount. This blog post explores the art of crafting a pitch that resonates with donors on a deeper level. From uncovering the profound WHY to simplifying your message, discover practical tips to engage donors and elevate your fundraising success. We even take some tips from Pixar to help us craft a compelling story.

Finding the Deeper WHY

When it comes to your organization’s purpose, it’s essential to uncover the deeper why. Many times, the problem you exist to solve is much more profound than you initially think. Let’s take an example of a nonprofit organization. The issue isn’t merely providing education to underprivileged children; it goes beyond that. During a recent conversation with donors, I asked them, “Why does this organization exist?” Some responses focused on offering access to education, but the true problem lies in breaking the cycle of generational poverty. It’s important to shift our focus from what we do to the impact we can make.

Understanding Wants vs. Needs

In fundraising, it’s crucial to recognize that donors respond to needs, not wants. Reflecting on my own experience, I realized that I never responded to the need to make a difference solely for the sake of it. It was the want to create a meaningful impact and leave a legacy that motivated me to take action. Similarly, as fundraisers, we should emphasize the need our organization fulfills rather than focusing solely on our desires.

Honing Your Message

As fundraisers, we often overestimate the time we have to tell our story and overemphasize the need to be cute and original. However, simplicity and clarity are key. Hone your message, tighten your words, and keep it simple. Remember, repetition can be powerful. When crafting communication materials, for instance, develop a core message of two strong paragraphs and use transition statements to guide donors to the key content you want them to revisit repeatedly.

The Power of the Pixar Pitch

In the world of storytelling, the Pixar Pitch offers a concise and persuasive framework. This pitch consists of six sequential sentences that can be used to structure your narrative effectively:

  1. Once upon a time…
  2. Every day…
  3. One day…
  4. Because of that…
  5. Because of that…
  6. Until finally…

Let’s take the example of “Finding Nemo” to understand this format better. Once upon a time, there was a widowed fish named Marlin. Every day, Marlin warned his son Nemo about the ocean’s dangers. One day, Nemo ignored his father’s advice and got captured by a diver. Because of that, Marlin embarked on a perilous journey to find his son. And finally, after a series of adventures, they were joyfully reunited.

Applying the Pixar Pitch to Your Story

To apply the Pixar Pitch to your organization’s narrative for donors, consider the following:

  1. Once upon a time: Define the problem your organization exists to solve.
  2. Until finally: Present how your organization uniquely solves that problem.

Remember to infuse a sense of urgency into your pitch. Why should donors act now? Highlight the immediate importance of addressing the problem and how their support can make a significant impact.


Crafting a compelling pitch to donors is an art that requires conciseness, discipline, and a deep understanding of your organization’s purpose. By uncovering the deeper why, emphasizing needs over wants, and honing your message, you can captivate your donors and inspire them to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to use storytelling frameworks like the Pixar Pitch to structure your narrative effectively.