As we roll over the calendar into the new year, councils will be beginning their fundraising efforts for 2018. Our part as volunteers and Scouting families is participation in the Family Friends of Scouting program. Most of us are familiar with the need to help fund our Scouting programs above and beyond the direct fees that we pay, so many volunteers also choose to help support this effort by giving presentations to our packs, troops and crews inviting familiies to become Friends of Scouting.
Of course, this means giving the dreaded FOS pitch. Facing a room full of parents who just want to have dinner, watch their son receive his awards, and get on with the program, an FOS presenter gets a lot of blank, impatient stares. It seems like everyone has their hand out, and we’re trying to convince them why our hand needs to be filled. We know it should be an easy choice – it’s for our kids, after all – but there’s always that resistance we must face. Most councils offer training and sample pitches, but the most successful ones come from the heart.
Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple structure to giving an effective presentation, described by Dr. Jim Anderson in his Accidental Communicator blog on public speaking. Dr. Jim describes the problem with most speeches – too much information! – and offers a great way to simplify our message.
Instead of going into great detail about a variety of things, boil your presentation down to a single point. In the case of FOS, the point is the need to provide a viable Scouting program for our children. Dr. Jim advises us, though, not to come right out and say it. The way to do this well is to work the point into three short stories – scenarios or examples – and bookend the three stories with an introduction and a call to action. Taking this approach is a lot more effective in holding parents’ attention and getting them behind your message than rattling off a bunch of statistics about where the money goes and what percentage is spent on camps.
If you write your own pitch, take some of Dr. Jim’s advice and tailor your presentation for best results by following his 1-3-1 approach.