Humanities: Development

Creating a pitch deck for potential partners


Nonprofit organizations serve the community in various ways and must consistently identify funding or partnership opportunities to sustain operations and long-term viability. A non-profit may also offer services that the government is unable to provide. For example, if schools must reduce or eliminate its budget for arts education programs, a nonprofit can address that need. As a result, it is possible for some non-profits to generate revenue that is then reinvested into the programs and services it provides to fulfill a social need (as opposed to paying a shareholder or staff). This earned revenue often does not cover the nonprofit’s operations budget, which may include staff salaries, rent for the space, utilities, and more. That’s why development is still needed for social enterprises.

A social enterprise seeks to create a business model for a service that solves a societal problem, and this can be applicable to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. For example, for a social enterprise model that will provide services directly benefiting the communities they serve (such as internship opportunities for historically underrepresented teens), development is focused on funding opportunities, and more important, relationship-building and effective networking with partners to support these endeavors. 

A nonprofit social enterprise manager approaches development by identifying funding opportunities and establishing long-lasting and valuable relationships with partners invested in both the nonprofit and those they serve. One of the most important tasks is developing a slide deck to pitch to potential funders and partners. The goal of this task is to demonstrate how the nonprofit’s mission, goals, and values align with this funder or partner and how investing their time, resources, or funding into your organization’s projects and services will enhance the particular target population or community in numerous ways.

The Process

The process below includes the steps necessary to create a slide deck to pitch services from your nonprofit organization to potential funders and partners. 

  1. Research the potential funder or partner’s online presence to determine their key audience(s)
  2. Based on this research, identify potential gaps that your organization can help fill through its service(s) or solution(s)
  3. Connect with this potential funder or partner to gauge their interest and invite them to hear a pitch from your nonprofit
  4. Create the slide deck to present at the meeting with potential funder or partner
  5. Share slide deck with executive director, team members, and more important, the project manager who can help determine how this fits in with your organization’s larger goals
  6. Make the necessary revisions and present the final slide deck to potential funders and partners in a formal meeting

The Exercise

For this simulation, you will complete a slide deck pitch assignment. Select a nonprofit organization to represent from the following list. Briefly review their mission, goals, workshops, events, programs, board of directors, services and sponsors. This will provide a starting point for possible funders or partners to present your pitch to. 

Your tasks are to create a slide deck that captures your nonprofit’s mission and values, while also including a strategic pitch to a potential funder or partner to invest in a new initiative launching at your nonprofit in the next year. This slide deck should be treated as a pitch that exemplifies how they can benefit from investing in your nonprofit, whether it be financial or through collaboration and support. 

For this exercise, you are a graduate student fellow with a nonprofit that uses a social enterprise model to provide micro-internship or apprenticeship opportunities for historically underrepresented youth to develop their skills as creatives through photography, cinematography, art, media and design. The nonprofit serves a specific population by giving them access to the necessary tools to perform their work and to connect/expand their network with the broader creative industry so that they may position themselves as professionals in the field early-on in their career.

Task 1: Identify small businesses or start-ups that may benefit from your services

You want to begin by researching various small businesses or start-ups that may be more willing to give the teens in your nonprofit a chance to work for them (step 1 of the process). As a nonprofit, you understand the need to maximize resources, especially when it comes to finances, and that’s the gap you are seeking to fill for a potential partner. Identify three possible partnerships and track the following information for each respective company:

  • Who is their target audience?
  • What does their branding and messaging say about the company’s values and goals? Do any align with your nonprofit?
  • Can you identify any existing or upcoming services that could benefit from a partnership with your organization? This will be especially helpful for the initial email invitation pitch as well as the slide deck pitch 

Overall, you want to be strategic in your research. Is this something your organization supports or wants to support long-term? On the other hand, does your organization’s own mission and goals seem like a good fit with this company? You’re seeking opportunities to provide a service, and to receive long-lasting support to provide more stability to the community you serve.

A few potential funders or partners to consider and get you started: 

  • Corporate – Adobe
  • Healthcare – Kaiser Permanente
  • Academic – John Hopkins University
  • Cultural – Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Lifestyle brands – Under Armor
  • Sports teams

Task 2: Craft an email invitation to meet and discuss a potential partnership

Your research in the first task will be useful in developing your slide deck, and also when writing the invitation to meet with this particular company (step 3 of the process). In your email, demonstrate knowledge of their company, who they are, what they do, and more important, where they are going in the future and how you can be a supportive partner on that journey. This email should be a brief paragraph that can be read in under two minutes.

Typically, you may send this to 20+ potential partners or funders, but in this case, you’ve narrowed it down to one company that you’re certain will be interested in hearing your presentation.

Task 3: Create the pitch deck

A pitch’s length depends on the funder or partner you’re presenting to, but can range from 10-30 minutes. For this job sim, develop a slide deck that can be presented in 5-10 minutes. Use proper branding, voice and tone consistently throughout the content of the slides. Branding includes use of fonts, colors, and other style considerations. Use text sparingly and leave space for specific examples of previous successful partnerships or projects your organization has done with similar companies. You want the slide deck to:

  • Start with a narrative and connect with your audience. This will be especially impactful if you’ve done good research and can craft a story that will resonate with this company’s own history, background or goals
  • If you’re using data, try to make it visually appealing and easy to understand. Creating a table, graph, or infograph might be useful to get this point across
  • Whenever appropriate, make those connections with your nonprofit and this company clear, you want to emphasize why this partnership makes sense and is worth pursuing
  • Let them know what you can do for them, and how their partnership will benefit your organization and the community it serves. This is supposed to be a win-win scenario and can strengthen your pitch
  • Propose the partnership with your nonprofit organization, the benefits, and what next steps will look like. Be prepared for questions

Before your pitch, practice for your team and on your own to ensure you’re confident in speaking on the topic and convincing in your pitch.

Sample Deliverable

View these video examples of setting up the “narrative” that you might use as the basis for the pitch deck slides.


General resources to help you get started:

Skills Used to Perform These Tasks

  • Research and analysis
  • Innovative thinking
  • Networking
  • Strong writing skills
  • Public speaking
  • Strategic planning
  • Design
  • Project management

Skills Used in This Field

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Persistence
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strategic thinking and seeing the “big picture” of the organization
  • Market analysis and research
  • Competitive analysis

A development professional in non-profit may also perform these activities:

  • Grant writing
  • Coordinating a fundraising campaign
  • Event planning
  • Strengthening donor relationships

You are viewing a job simulation. To get started, set up SMART Goals to perform this simulation in a reasonable timeline. If you have completed the task, fill out the Self-Reflection Sheet.

Simulation author – Jeanelle Horcasitas, PhD at Scripps

Simulation vetted by professionals in LA-based nonprofits.