Explain Your Mission in 1 Minute


One of the hardest messages for any organization to create is the one that introduces your work to someone new.

The One Minute Message, which is sometimes called an elevator pitch or elevator speech, needs to provide enough information about your organization without burying your audience in too many details about your programs. It needs to begin explaining why your organization exists in just a few words, and most importantly, it needs to leave them wanting more.

It’s a tall order for a short sentence or two, and that’s why creating effective One Minute Messages is a big part of our Minute Message Model training. In the training, we walk our participants through a simple model that hits all the right points — and to keep things interesting, we do it in the form of a Mad Lib:

(Name of Organization) believes (Deeply Held Value). Every day, we (Verb) (Object) for (Constituents) because (Problem Statement).

This model starts from a place of emotion and conviction in order to make a real connection with your audience. It immediately grounds that emotion in the concrete work an organization does to help real people, then closes by explaining how that work addresses a problem that exists in our society or the world.

How does it actually work in practice? We recently had a chance to lead a Minute Message Model session for the Green Beret Foundation, an organization that helps America’s most elite soldiers connect with the resources they need to transition to their next challenge after serving our country.

It’s a challenging organization to create messages for, because unlike other special forces in the military like Navy SEALs, few people understand who Green Berets are or what they do. Much of their work is technical, and jargon can quickly overwhelm even the most attentive audience. We were pleasantly surprised, then, at the fantastic one-minute messages their board members came up with during the training.

After the training, we took the one-minute messages created by the board and did some editing to create our recommendation for a final message they could all use. This is what we came up with:

The Green Beret Foundation serves the Army’s Special Forces, our nation’s most elite soldiers, by connecting them with the resources they need to succeed in the mission ahead.

We believe Green Berets are our nation’s greatest assets. Every day, we honor our commitment to Green Berets past and present, as well as their families, by connecting them with the right resources to prosper and thrive. Because when these soldiers — these powerful assets — meet powerful opportunities, our nation’s most elite soldiers become our nation’s best leaders.

If this sounds like the kind of messaging help your organization could use, I hope you’ll join me for my Foundation Center webinar, Perfecting Your Organization’s Elevator Pitch,” on Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 2:00-3:00pm ET.

Zach Hochstadt

ZACH HOCHSTADT is a founding partner of Mission Minded, a branding firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations and foundations, and he runs its Denver office. Zach is a branding and strategic communications expert with a gift for imagining and then translating organizational initiatives into creative solutions.