When I took a course in grantwriting last year, we were told that the key to raising money for any cause is the ability to sell your cause to others quickly and efficiently. We’ve all heard about the elevator speech in which you spit everything out in three minutes or less.
Well, we all had to practice our own version of the elevator pitch, which horrified me because social anxiety ain’t just an entry on Wikipedia for me, ya dig? But, after a lot of work shopping and paring down, I finally came up with something.
Hello! My name is Marena [last name]. I’m currently a graduate student in the Social Justice and Human Rights program at [college]. I entered this program because I hope to use the knowledge and connections gained to help my tribe, the Oneida Nation of [state], assist and serve over 15,000 enrolled members. Since I began working with my Tribe as an adult, I have become even more passionate about doing what I can to create a thriving Oneida community.
The Oneida Nation of [state] provides health and human services to 15,000+ enrolled members with particular attention given to the 2,000+ area tribal members. These services include, but are not limited to: a K-12 school system, mental, behavioral and physical health services, free food distribution, housing, language and culture revitalization, child care services, employment, higher education grants and much more. Despite the recent economic downturn, the Tribe managed to stay solvent and continue providing critical services to our members and the area Oneida population. We hope to continue this trajectory and, in the future, make sure that all Oneida people are culturally, physically and emotionally fulfilled.
To that end the Tribe continues to set concrete goals as we move forward. A few of the latest objectives include expanding housing opportunities to single and/or childless Oneida people, continuing funding of a commercial project to convert waste into useable energy, increasing the amount of Oneida Farm and tsyunhehkw^ (i.e. organically) raised meat and organic vegetables provided to the Tribal schools, and providing improved housing opportunities for our Elders. Construction is nearly completed on the new nursing home, and the waste energy project has found a site to conduct business. We have been mostly successful in our ability to meet and make progress on our goals. I look forward bringing what I can to the table to continue to do so, and I also look forward to helping set new goals.
My speech is basic, kind of bland, and not really how I speak off the cuff at all. I also question how anything can be meaningfully discussed in two minutes. But my professor assured us that it’s just a template of sorts to learn how to break down a lot of information into a digestible bit for someone who doesn’t know a thing about what you’re passionate about. Thinking back on this exercise got me curious: What are you passionate about? If you only had two minutes to pitch a project or cause you’re working on, what would you say?