The work of CASA of Yellowstone County is filling an urgent need in our community by advocating for the most vulnerable among us: abused and neglected children. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, Peer Coordinator, Staff or Friend of CASA, how do you spread the word about our work? Do you have an elevator pitch that you use to introduce CASA to outsiders and entice them to learn more? If not, now’s your time to refine your ambassador skills!

What is an elevator pitch anyway? And why is it useful for spreading the word about the great work of CASA? An elevator pitch is basically a 30 second commercial (so the time it would take to ride the elevator with a stranger) for whatever you’re trying to sell. Not that it needs to happen in an elevator, but the practice of condensing a lot of information into the most important bullet points is a useful activity. People’s attention spans are not always long, and they are bombarded with so much information from so many directions. If you have their attention, maximize the impact of your words. And that’s all an elevator pitch is – a refined, brief persuasive speech. So how do you begin crafting your message?

First, you should write out what you would tell a stranger who knows nothing about the organization. Then, boil it down to the most important points. Remember, you only have about 30 seconds to get in all the good stuff. Start with the mission of the organization (why we exist), and then add what you do and why it’s important. Then practice it and ensure you’re hitting the important points coherently, within 30 seconds, and that you can do so naturally in a conversation-style. It may take a few times of practicing and refining and choosing words carefully, but eventually, you’ll have an awesome pitch that will roll off your tongue to anyone on command.

To get you started, think about how you would fill in these blanks:
• Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA of Yellowstone County is part of a national network of programs that provide advocacy and a voice for kids in foster care.
• The mission of CASA of Yellowstone County is, “To advocate for a safe and permanent home for abused and neglected children in Yellowstone County.”
• As a (trained volunteer Advocate)/(Peer Coordinator)/(Program Coordinator)/(Supporter of CASA), I _________________.
• This work is important because _________________.
• To learn more, visit the website at www.yellowstonecasa.org

You don’t have to use any of these words of course. People tend to remember the emotional connection and what motivates you to do this work or support this organization, so don’t get too hung up on the technical explanation or the verbatim Mission Statement. And most important, make it your own!

Keely McCave is the Executive Director of CASA of Yellowstone County.