TikTok for NPOs

You Can Do It!

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing app that quickly became one of the most widely used social media apps, with more than a billion downloads. The majority of users are under the age of 30, though more and more people are getting in on the game, including non-profits. In fact, TikTok launched TikTok for Good last year, partly to combat negative stereotypes, and to use its network to promote positive change.

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Their mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.

As with the many different social media apps out there – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and others – TikTok has a certain connotation about what it is used for and who uses it. TikTok began as a lip-syncing app called musical.ly. Users could post videos of them with original music content or lip-syncing to sounds, songs or comedy routines. There were even artists who launched original music on musical.ly and there were widespread hashtag campaigns that became popular with millions of teenagers.

What is a hashtag campaign? Hashtags are a way of organizing information, so a campaign utilizes an easily recognizable hashtag to group like videos, tweets and posts. As a hashtag gains traction, any time a person is looking for information about a certain topic, they can search a hashtag to find any content related to that topic. One of the most well-known hashtag campaigns is #ShareACoke. Anytime someone posts a picture or a tweet or a video of themselves drinking a Coca-Cola, they can tag it with #ShareACoke and it joins the compendium of content about Coca-Cola. It’s all about the algorithm, so the more a hashtag is used, the more traction a topic will have. Hashtags are a great way to engage people and make them feel part of a community. They can help people express emotions and incentivize people to share.

We’ll talk more about hashtag challenges below.

How do I get started?

Easy! Download the app from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or Amazon Appstore. You’ll set up an account and get scrolling. You’ll need to create a username, have upload a profile picture and decide what you want your name to be on the app. You can also create a brief bio and include links to your Instagram and YouTube channels. This is a great way to share content across platforms.

Best practice

Recycle content!

Profile Picture:

This is a great place for your NPO’s logo or a key figure that is easily recognizable. You want people to feel confident when they land on your page that you are who you say you are. It’s all about building trust.


Many individual users create usernames that have clever puns or jokes, but an NPO will want to state as closely as possible to who they actually are. There are only so many characters, so may organizations will use recognizable abbreviations, for instance, World Health Organization is simply @who. That’s also a common abbreviation they themselves use. If you have other social media accounts, make your TikTok handle similar, if not the same. Be consistent so people know how to find you.


Make sure to link your account to any other social media outlets you already curate and make your messages and brand consistent across platforms. It’s a great idea to recycle content.

Best Practice

Pick one or two platforms to do really well.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Try to have a presence on the key platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – but you don’t need to build original content for all of them. Pick up a couple to make quality content and share it on multiple platforms.

Be thoughtful about your brand and your voice, and make sure it’s consistent.

Verified accounts:

A verified account on TikTok is denoted by a blue check mark. This means that the service has verified that the user is who they say they are (i.e. not a robot). Often these tick marks are assigned to celebrities and well-known public figures, but on TikTok, popular content creators can also be verified. So how do you get verified? TikTok is pretty mum about how to get verified, but here are some tips:

  • Post frequently. Set a regular schedule and stick to it.
  • Post good, well-made content (This might mean you need to use something other than a cell phone to create and edit content, though it’s not required. There is a lot you can do on cell phones now!)
  • Do your homework and see what is popular and trending.
  • Make fun, lively content.
  • Interact and engage with your followers.

 So what do I even do on TikTok??

There are so many ways to use TikTok, and as with any social media platform, the name of the game is community engagement. The way TikTok is successful is when it becomes viral. The way to go viral is to create content that is interesting, fun, joyful and encourages your viewers to participate or respond in some way. Here are the key ways people use TikTok:


Lip-syncs were the bread-and-butter of TikTok’s predecessor, musical.ly. Users would upload videos of themselves lip-syncing over a sound file, sometimes music, and they would try to line up perfectly as part of the challenge. On TikTok, lip-syncs have evolved to incorporate humor or share a message. Here’s a great one featuring Drake’s song, Flip the Switch.

@nbcsnl𝗙𝗹𝗶𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗰𝗵.♬ Nonstop – Drake

Here, Unicef utilizes a short clip Bruno Mars’ song Up Town Funk. As you can see, the message has nothing to do with the song but uses the lyrics to get your attention.

@unicefKnow the facts about ##coronavirus by visiting UNICEF and ##WHO websites. ##COVID19♬ Stop! Wait a Minute – Bruno Mars, Tik Tok

“Stop, wait a minute” is a lyric that can be used in many different contexts. The way it’s positioned in most TikToks is to literally get the viewer to wait in anticipation to see what the resolution of the video will be.


Dances are a great way to get more staff or even constituents involved in your account. As songs become popular, choreography will be developed to go along with the song. Many different people will attempt their version of the choreography, generally just for fun, as a personal challenge to themselves. Here, Dr. Austin Chiang (@austinchiangmd) repurposes the choreography that goes along with popular song, Renegade, to talk about the conoravirus.

@austinchiangmdCan you spot the changes? 😷 (RIP Kobe) ##coronavirus ##flu ##medical♬ Lottery – K Camp

Another example from Unicef which involves staff and children and choreography developed specifically to demonstrate ways people can help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This is a great and fun way to get a message across.

@unicefSpread the dance, not the disease 💪. @im.quangdang 💙 ##coronavirus ##covid19 ##ghencovychallenge♬ Ghen Cô Vy (Vũ Điệu Rửa Tay) – Khắc Hưng, MIN, ERIK

Best Practice

Encourage interaction!


Duets are a way for people to interact with and respond to your video. Many times, users will literally make a reaction video to something someone has said on TikTok or in the media. These videos might be expressing approval by silently clapping or disapproval by shaking their heads or making incredulous faces.

@theconsciouslee is great at this:

@theconsciousleeA Sabotaged Culture ##duet with @kofi_ofori ##HipHop ##Rapmusic ##rap ##history ##freestyle♬ original sound – kofi_ofori

 One of the most fun ways to use duets is to create a duet chain. You can encourage others to participate in your chain or use duet chains to create a ripple effect. Here are a couple of great and super silly examples.

The second example created a challenge for users to duet and try to line up the objects outside of the screen. As they got progressively sillier, it became more fun to participate. Try to think of how you can get your followers to duet or respond to your videos. The more people who see an interact with your videos, the more your videos will appear in new people’s feeds.


How-tos are another great way to engage followers. More and more people look to social media and specifically look for videos to learn something. Your non-profit can help educate! Are you a music non-profit that has musicians on staff? Can they share a super short tutorial about how to tune an instrument? Are you an environmental non-profit that can share quick tips about how to live more sustainably? These easy to digest and easy to use are great to encourage people to like and share.

@newlifestyleThis is my zero waste version of Goo-Gone I use to take labels off my jars. See my previous video for my DIY labels. ##fyp ##zerwaste ##foryou♬ Can I Call You Tonight – Dayglow

 #Challenges and Competitions:

Challenges and competitions, like duets, really engage the public. You might remember the #IceBucketChallenge. In the video, a bucket of ice is dumped on someone, and they challenge someone else to participate, thus the video permeates out. The next person who participates also shares and tags another person. TikTok is no different, and challenges are a fun way to engage users. #RespectTheDrip was one of the sillier challenges, but many different people participated: children, adults, animals.

Look for ways that your non-profit can participate in a challenge that is already happening so you can utilize momentum that is already on TikTok.

Go live!

Now you’re ready to get started. As with any marketing strategy, you need a plan. Decide what message you want to get across, how you want people to feel and interact with you and schedule your content.

TikTok videos are only 15-60 seconds long, so these are quick bites. They can be teasers of other content, which is why it’s important to link to your other accounts. A great way to recycle content is to use clips from interviews or longer videos and encourage people to check out the rest of the video on another platform.

Think about recording your videos in another way and uploading them to TikTok. For a tutorial of the TikTok features, just go to the source: https://support.tiktok.com/en/using-tiktok. There are tons of great in-app features that you can use to your advantage when creating a video. These will help make your videos compelling and more likely to be liked, commented on and interacted with.

Don’t be afraid to try something!

Cause-marketing on TikTok

TikTok is a great tool for raising awareness, and it can be a great tool for non-profits to raise money. There are minimal ads on TikTok, like when you first log into the app, so for the most part, organizations have to rely on earning followers organically.

One way to do this is to check out what is trending on TikTok and see if you can make a video that fits into what is already trending. Using this resource will help you pop up on TikTok’s For You page, a video feed that is generated based on what the use previously viewed, commented on, liked, or interacted with. As a result, you will see more success if you figure out out to tap into what users are already looking for.

One of the great upsides of TikTok is that it “can potentially be a great venue for organizations that want to engage with their younger supporters (around 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24), especially if they want to create awareness around specific causes.” Millennials and GenZ are crucial demographics for non-profits as Baby Boomers are retiring and transferring wealth. They are the activist generations who share content and engage their peers and will ultimately change the world. To have their attention and engagement could truly have a transformational impact for a non-profit.

Here are some of my favorite NPOs on TikTok:

https://www.caenhillcc.org.uk/ | @caenhillcc

https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/ | @sandiegozoo

https://carnegiemnh.org/ | @carnegiemnh

@carnegiemnhAKA Limax maximus 🐆♬ original sound – carnegiemnh

https://www.ifad.org/en/ |@ifad

https://www.unicef.org/ @unicef

Bree Muehlbauer is a passionate, donor-centered fundraiser who is a geek for story-telling and obsessed with TikTok. She is an elder millennial and works on a college campus, so she’s pretty sure she “gets” kids these days. Sort of.  Check out her TikTok @breeheartskale.

Senior Center Board Member Guide

Senior Center Board Member Guide

by Dara Rodda

Understanding Your Board

The Board of Directors is the backbone of our local senior centers. As board members of a nonprofit they are responsible for ensuring that their senior center is operating efficiently, providing meals to those senior citizens that want them, and maintaining a friendly environment to encourage people to come to their center.
A Board of Directors is normally made up of a vice president, president, secretary/treasurer, and other directors. The amount of directors you have on your board will be dependent on what your bylaws say about what makes a quorum (the minimum number of directors that must be in attendance at a meeting to pass a vote), AND how well you are recruiting new board members that want to contribute to your organization.

Governing Documents

Articles of Incorporation-Your nonprofit articles of incorporation is a legal document filed with the secretary of state to create your nonprofit corporation. This process is called incorporating. To see an example of this document, click here: https://www.mtnonprofit.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ArticlesofIncorporation.pdf

To visit Montana’s Secretary of State websites, click here: https://sosmt.gov/

Please note that an annual report MUST be filed with the Secretary of State every year in order for your organization to stay in compliance. The annual report can be filed on their website.

Bylaws- Nonprofit bylaws are a nonprofit’s operating manual. … They are the main official documents of an organization, nonprofit or for-profit. The board creates bylaws when the organization is established. Bylaws supplement the rules already defined by the state corporations code and will guide how your nonprofit will be run.
To see an example of nonprofit bylaws, click here:https://www.mtnonprofit.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/By-Laws-Rev-2.2018-1.pdf
IRS Affirmation Letters- An IRS Affirmation Letter is the official, written documentation of the Internal Revenue Service’s approval of a nonprofit’s request for 501(c), tax-exempt status.
To see an example of an IRS determination letter, click here: https://www.mtnonprofit.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/IRS_Letter_Public_Support.pdf
To read more about affirmation letters including what to do if you have a change of address or change of name, click here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-affirmation-letters
Other Governing Documents- Documents that are not required but is good policy to have include:
Privacy Policy
Board Governance Policy
Whistleblower and Non-Retaliation Policy
Code of Ethics
Executive Compensation Policy
Conflict of Interest and Annual Statement
Public Reporting and Transparency Policy
Document Retention and Destruction Policy

To see examples of these, click here: https://www.mtnonprofit.org/mission-history/board-of-directors/

Board Responsibility
The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit. Individuals who sit on the board are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization. At a minimum, an annual meeting must occur with all board members present.

Financial Responsibility
The Board of Directors is responsible for the financial health of an organization. This means that they need to know about expenses that are incurred and how much money is coming in and where it is coming from. It is highly recommended that your board Treasurer look over monthly bank statements and reconciliations to make sure that taxes are being paid, bills are being paid, deposits are making it to the bank, etc. Having proper internal controls is very important. Internal controls are the mechanisms, rules, and procedures implemented by a company to ensure the integrity of financial and accounting information, promote accountability and prevent fraud. To learn more about internal controls we recommend watching this webinar: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/financial-management-nonprofit-internal-controls-essential-guide/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9ZzzBRCKARIsANwXaeIaCaM8oBVw1w-dV000a2ZzUX8uREZrFzCzfW5VMVmRllHh-e9ha3kaAlTUEALw_wcB

Here is a list of reports we suggest be brought to your board meetings so that board members can rest easy, knowing the financial aspect of the business is being taken care of properly:

-Income and Expense Report
-IIIC Report

April- Form 941, UI5
August-Form 941, UI5,
November-Form 941, UI5, 990 or 990ez
January-Form 941, UI5, W3, MW3


941- This form is also known as the Employer’s Quarterly Tax Form and is used by employers to report the federal withholdings from most types of employees. It notifies the IRS of a number of important figures, like the employment taxes taken from employee pay and the amount owed to the IRS. To see an example of this form, click here:https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f941.pdf

940-IRS Form 940 is the federal unemployment tax annual report form. … If you have employees, you must report and pay unemployment taxes. You do not have to deduct these employment taxes from employee pay, but you must set aside amounts for this tax and report it on Form 940. NOTE: As a 501(c)3 you are EXEMPT from federal unemployment tax and do NOT need to file Form 940.

W3- This form, along with your employees W2s is transmitted to the IRS to let them know how much each employee was paid and how much taxes were withheld. To see an example of this form, click here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw3.pdf

UI5- Montana Employer’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Quarterly Wage Report.To see an example of this form, click here:http://uid.dli.mt.gov/Portals/55/Documents/Contributions-Bureau/dli-uid-ui005.pdf

MW3- Montana Annual W-2 1099 Withholding Tax Reconciliation. To see an example of this form, click here: https://app.mt.gov/myrevenue/Endpoint/Form/81

Other Financial Responsibilities

Nonprofits are goal based organizations. Their purpose is not to make money but rather to fulfill a need. For senior centers, that need is to have a place for seniors and the community to gather. It is to provide healthy, hot meals for seniors and the disabled that are homebound, and to provide congregate meals for those seniors looking for a reasonable priced meal with friends and fellow community members.

This means that there are times that money may be tight. Board members can help by writing grants, having fundraisers, and encouraging donations.

Understanding the State of Montana’s Aging Food and Nutrition Programs

There are a variety of food and nutrition programs offered through the Aging Network in Montana. They are funded by federal Older Americans Act and USDA funds, state and local dollars and client contributions.

The main goal of the programs is to enable older adults to remain healthy and independent, living in their homes and communities. Additional benefits include:

Promoting health and prevent disease;
Reducing malnutrition risk and improve nutritional status;
Reducing social isolation; and
Linking older adults to community services

Those eligible for services include:
A person aged 60 years of age and older;
A spouse of any age who resides with the eligible senior;
A disabled person residing with a person 60 years of age or older;
Disabled individuals who reside in housing facilities for the elderly where a congregate site exists are eligible for congregate meals;

Others may participate, but must pay the full cost of the meal.

Congregate Meals Program

Montana has about 170 congregate meal sites around the state. The majority of these sites are senior centers, but churches, fraternal organizations, nursing homes, and restaurants also serve as meal sites. Meals must comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each site determines the frequency of meals served per week. Over 1,000,000 congregate meals are served annually to over 25,000 people.

Home Delivered Meals

Home delivered meals are targeted to those seniors who are unable to get to meal sites for a congregate meal. The vast majority of home delivered meals are served hot, but they can be delivered cold, frozen, dried, canned, or as supplemental foods. Meals must comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each site determines the frequency of meals served per week. Over 600,000 home delivered meals are served annually to about 6,500 people.

Nutrition Consultations

The Aging Services Bureau contracts with Minkie Medora, a Registered Dietitian from Missoula, to offer consultations regarding nutrition issues relating to senior citizens, food safety issues at senior meal sites and other related health issues with any of the above listed providers.

For more information, contact: Jackie Stoeckel, State Office on Aging, Jstoeckel@mt.gov or at (800) 332-2272 during normal business hours.

Employment Responsibilities

The Board of Directors is responsible for the staff and volunteers. Examples of staff and employees that typically work at a senior center are bookkeeper, maintenance staff, nutrition director, cook, home delivered meals driver, congregate meal cashier.

The Nutrition Director manages the nutrition programs and the staff/volunteers for these programs. Here is an example of some of the job duties that a Nutrition Director performs:

Examples of Duties
Plans, organizes, directs, controls, and evaluates nutrition services and programs.
Conducts Nutrition Assessments for potential clients.
Monitors quality of Home Delivered Meals and Congregate Meals for compliance with regulatory requirements.
Coordinates training for cooks and helpers.
Prepares and Posts menus at sites and online.
Monitors sanitation of kitchen and proper storage of food stuffs.
Supervises cooks, delivery drivers, and sometimes maintenance staff
Subs for the above position if another sub cannot be found
Maintains an employee handbook, suggests updates to the board
Plans, prepares, and administers operating and grant budgets (IIIC funding through Area VI Agency on Aging)
Directs the preparation of reports, correspondence, and grant funding proposals.
Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with staff, clients, and outside agencies.
Provides advice and consultation regarding nutrition issues to professional staff.
Directs all aspects of the daily operations of the Federal Title III C-1 Congregate Meals Nutrition Program.
Manages the Ensure program
Knowledge: Working knowledge of the operation of a commercial kitchen including sanitation,
storage and handling of foodstuffs. Working knowledge of volunteer coordination principles and
practices. General knowledge of good nutrition and health promotion. General knowledge of
principles and processes for providing customer services including techniques for handling
difficult people, active listening and assessing customer satisfaction.
Skill: Proven skill in organizing people and things. Proven skill in the use of a personal
computer and common software applications such as Microsoft Word, Access, Excel and
Microsoft Outlook. Considerable interpersonal skill, including oral and written communication is required.
Ability: Ability to work within a team concept using a prescribed approach.
Ability to travel within the area served by the program.
Ability to successfully interact with a wide range of individuals and organizations of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.
Ability to supervise employees.
Ability to adapt to changing work duties and priorities.
Education and Experience: The preferred knowledge, skills and abilities described above are
typically acquired through the completion of a high school diploma or equivalent and a minimum
of two (2) years of relevant experience AND/OR relevant education and training OR a suitable
combination of education and experience. Volunteer work may be considered in evaluating
work experience.
Must possess a valid Montana driver’s license and proof of vehicle insurance and be available for limited travel for training.
Performs other related duties as assigned.
(NOTE: The duties and responsibilities listed above are for the purpose of determining a common set of minimum qualifications for all positions in this class. They may not include all of the essential job functions of each position in the class. Each position may not be required to perform all of the essential job functions listed.)

Community Access and Input

A nonprofit provides multiple means (telephone, fax, e-mail, and web form, for example) for contacting the organization to request information or provide input.
Boards of directors provide information to the public that describes their decisions and decision-making processes. They may make meeting agendas and descriptions of significant decisions available to those who request them.
A nonprofit is encouraged to engage a diverse cross-section of stakeholders in the development of goals and service delivery methods to carry out its mission and commits to sharing accomplishments and lessons learned through this engagement.

A nonprofit takes reasonable steps to make its public information, and, if applicable, its physical facility, accessible to its constituents, staff, board members, other stakeholders, and the community. All organizational communications adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards, as well as any applicable industry-specific standards, and exhibit transparency, fairness, and honesty. These standards are clearly stated in writing and made part of the orientation of all employees and volunteers, including board members.

A nonprofit has a clearly defined, written communications plan that guides both internal and external communications and that supports the organization’s comprehensive organizational plan. It is strategic and central to all organizational planning; it demonstrates accountability to constituents and the public.

A communications plan includes goals, target audiences, key messages, strategies, tools, intended outcomes, and a means to evaluate results.

Internal Communications

Internal communications are guided by clear policies and practices, such as regularly scheduled and attended meetings, regularly printed and/or e-mailed informational updates, a forum for suggestions, reports on meetings of the board of directors and its committees, recognition, and social events.

The line of communication between staff and the board of directors is clearly defined and well understood.
A nonprofit encourages internal communication that welcomes alternative perspectives, invites and encourages participation at all levels, minimizes defensiveness, and builds and maintains camaraderie. In addition, a nonprofit intentionally seeks out traditionally marginalized constituents, community members, and other stakeholders for their perspectives. Management solicits actively, listens carefully, and responds respectfully and with an awareness of its own biases.

External Communications

External communications are guided by clear marketing and public relations efforts. These may include a newsletter, website, social media channels, an annual report, advertising, public service announcements, promotional brochures and flyers, news releases, press conferences, and feature stories.

A nonprofit regularly reviews and updates its branding and messaging to accurately reflect and include the diversity of individuals that it currently serves and aspires to serve in the community.

A nonprofit identifies its spokesperson(s) who is/are authorized to make public statements about a given issue. All internal constituents are aware of who is designated as the spokesperson(s).

A nonprofit has a written policy and procedures for developing public statements and positions on issues. All internal constituents are aware of them. The statements and positions represent the full range of views of the organization’s constituencies and traditionally marginalized members of the community.

A nonprofit has a written plan for communicating with the public and the media at a time of crisis or emergency. This plan includes a procedure to communicate internally as well.

Constituents of nonprofits are provided with appropriate, ongoing opportunities to interact with the board of directors and management regarding the organization’s activities. A nonprofit provides anonymous methods, including a mailing address, for constituents to provide feedback regarding the organization’s activities.

A nonprofit responds promptly and respectfully per policy to grievances or complaints from constituents.

A nonprofit provides anonymous methods, including a mailing address, in which the constituent can state the grievance or complaint.

Ultimately, the success of your nonprofit is up to YOU and your fellow board members. This is designed to be a basic guide to help your run your organization. If you have additional questions or concerns, the staff at Lake County Council on Aging would love to research them for you and provide you with additional details about best practices.
Please call us at 676-2367 or email us at coa@ronan.net

The How and Why to Advocate for Pay Transparency at Your Nonprofit Organization.

Kylie Gursky

Do you want to advocate for higher wages for yourself or your colleagues but don’t know where to start? Do you know if your organization is compensating employees equitably? Do you feel there’s an air to secrecy about salaries at your organization?

Pay transparency is an essential strategy in empowering lower-level workers and creating equity in the workplace and is increasingly popular for organizations in the US.

In the 1930s, management at Vanity Fair requested that employees not share information about their salaries with each other. In response, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood painted their wages onto signs and wore them around their necks. While technology has changed our methods (660 arts professionals shared their salaries on this spreadsheet), tactics to encourage radical transparency are still used by employees in multiple sectors.

Whether through radical or incremental moves, the push toward organizational transparency typically comes from the bottom. Managers are unlikely to speak frankly with staff about salaries for any number of reasons. If you’re going to push for transparency from the bottom, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what you’re asking for. Compensation is part of a complex strategy to maintain stability and sustain the work of your organization. But the closer you and your colleagues are to the financial information of the organization, the better positioned you are in to advocate for any changes in compensation.

This piece is meant to help you understand the factors at play that your manager is considering. It is also meant to prepare you to effectively advocate for pay transparency, a specific policy change that will move your organization in the right direction.

First, I’ll define what pay transparency is and why it’s a good first step toward addressing compensation at your organization. I’ll outline the resistance you’re likely to encounter as you advocate for a pay transparency policy and provide you with tools to make a values based argument. Then I’ll provide you with some human resource (HR) tools and resources that you might not have direct access to at your organization, or know where to find online.

HR Primer for the non HR person

What is pay transparency?

Pay transparency is a set of policies and practices that determines how publicly available an organization will make information about compensation. Pay transparency can mean your organization’s compensation data is available to internal audiences, external audiences, or both. Pay transparency exists on a spectrum from little or none to full transparency. Examples of little or no transparency means that an employee learns what they earn when they get their pay check and there is little opportunity for conversation about compensation with your direct supervisor. Further down the spectrum, an organization would use market data to determine salary ranges, they might make salary ranges for particular roles public. Further, an organization might train managers to discuss compensation with employees. At the end of the spectrum would be an organization that publishes salaries of individuals to internal and external audiences.

Have you seen a salary range listed on a job announcement? Has it helped you determine if you’ll apply for the job?

You’ve seen one practice of pay transparency in action!

Article: When you don’t disclose salary range on a job posting, a unicorn loses its wings

What is a compensation strategy?

A compensation strategy helps organizations make decisions about how to best pay their employees. Compensation strategies help organizations create compensation plans that determine what an organization pays, how it pays, and why it pays the way it does. It answers questions like:

      • Where does the organization get data to compare salaries to?
      • Does the organization want to pay below midpoint, at midpoint, or above midpoint in comparison to its peers?
      • What can the organization afford?
      • Does the organization want to tie compensation to performance (merit based raises), loyalty (tenure based raises), specific skills or certifications?

Your employer may or may not have a compensation strategy. Regardless of a formal strategy, employers seek to retain employees by compensating them- through base pay, combined with merit pay, productivity-based pay, or skills-based pay.

Factors that employers consider when raising pay might include cost-of-living adjustments, general pay increases based on local competitive markets, seniority increases, lump-sum and performance bonuses, incentive pay, and differential pay (increasing pay for less-desirable or emergency shifts, holidays, hazard pay, etc.).

These different factors help organizations maintain both internal equity and external equity.

      • External equity means that organizations are using reliable survey data about similar positions to set staff salaries. Local survey data is often available to nonprofit organizations through memberships with a local nonprofit association, the United Way, or local agencies that provide human resource services.
      • Internal equity occurs when organizations know what people are paid and have taken the time to compare an employee’s skills, education, and experience to that of their peers. This doesn’t mean people are paid the same, it means that employees are paid fairly for their work based on the education, experience and skills they bring to the table.

Compensation strategies help employers design their pay to reflect the characteristics of their organization, and attract and retain top employees. One step toward pay transparency is making the compensation strategy public and sharing factors taking into consideration in pay decisions.

Class Action Report: Staffing the Mission, Improving Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector 

What’s the law?

HR professionals are nothing if not concerned about following the rules. Make sure you know the laws in your state that protect you or your employer.

No matter which state you are in, you can talk to other employees about your salary and encourage other employees to do the same. It is illegal for an employer to impose pay secrecy rules or punish employees for discussing salaries. Many employees still don’t realize their legal rights to discuss salaries. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 made talking about pay legal in the workplace. The only time it may be illegal to discuss wages is if an employee in charge or wage and payroll information discloses information without permission.

Many states have put equal pay laws in place that are meant to increase pay transparency. These often reinforce existing national law, but might add additional measures such as prohibiting asking job applications about salary history.

Pay Transparency is Important

Wage transparency is a key factor that supports compensation equity. Because- knowledge is power and information privileges the informed!

Most nonprofits lack channels for staff input on and dissemination of compensation information. As troubling as nonprofit wages themselves are, communication about those wages seem to be just as troubling.  Wage transparency practices can lead to a number of benefits for organizations including reducing pay disparity and employee stress concerning salary negotiations.

Society for Human Resource Management holds that employers should be encouraged to share with applicants or employees the compensation for a given position, total compensation philosophy, pay structure, the pay range and the factors taken into consideration in pay decisions. They also hold that employees should be free to discuss pay and pay practices without fear of retaliation. These are two of eleven public policy principles SHRM advocates for in ensuring compensation equity.

Additionally, a study of the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey, done by Jack Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice, have shown that when financial information about an organization is shared, it shifts power dynamics within workplaces, including increasing workers’ wages. Access to financial information is contested territory. But as you consider advocating for pay transparency, keep in mind that it is one element of financial transparency that can help workers establish an equitable workplace. You could also advocate for staff training on financial documents, updates on the organization’s budget, to either be present at board meetings or presented with the same high-level information the board receives. When you have the relevant financial information, you can understand whether your actual or potential wage demands are plausible. If you understand your organization’s finances and your contribution to the organization, you’re in a better place to advocate for yourself.


Pay Transparency is Controversial


In the US, our culture tells us that people are rich because they work hard and being poor is a matter of bad choices. Checking in with reality again, we know that resources are distributed in unfair ways that disadvantage people based on race, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age, and citizenship status. We also know that class exists in a way that intersects with all of these identities: people can be poor or working class; lower or upper middle class; wealthy or owning class.

Because of our cultural belief that wealth or lack of wealth is a result of an individual’s hard work, and because talking about money is taboo, advocating for pay transparency runs counter to our broader cultural norms.

Understanding how people have internalized dominant society’s beliefs and attitudes about poor and working class people as well as middle class and wealthy people will help you understand why there might be resistance to the idea of wage transparency. Sometimes people have internalized the message that they are ‘self-made.’ Sometimes they don’t believe they should earn more. And sometimes they have an inflated sense of what they should be earning. People’s concepts of scarcity and excess are rooted in their class experience growing up.

While not everyone in the nonprofit sector does work to create economic justice, it is highly possible that you can find a hint of some economic justice concepts in your organizational values. You can ask if people are interested in learning more about how class impacts your organization, both internally with staff dynamics and externally in helping your constituents.

Even if your organization isn’t interested in deepening their analysis around class and classism, you can sort through your own relationship to class and come to discussions of pay equity with more clarity and self-awareness.

How does classism shape our understanding about financial advice and personal responsibility?

Listen to the thought provoking podcast “Frugality Fables and Poor-Shaming Grift of Financial Advice Journalism” by Citations Needed. 


Managers are concerned that disclosing salaries could lead to a drop in morale. Studies show that if you, as an employee, find out you are making the median  or more, that your job satisfaction will not change. But, if you find out you’re making less than the median, your job satisfaction will take a nose-dive, you might put a little less effort into your work, and your organization’s leadership might be concerned that you’ll immediately start looking for a different job.

This concept is worth digging into a little bit. When you research salaries for your role, the salary range reflects the experience a particular employee brings to the role. For example, if you are hired as a development manager, the average salary in Montana is $72,000. If your organization is paying you less than $72,000, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being underpaid.

What is important to understand about the median salary for your particular position is that it takes into account your level of experience and likely your job performance. People are notoriously bad at assessing their own job performance. If you don’t have an accurate picture of your job performance, your manager could be shocked when you advocate for a raise.

A 2017 study found that when employees knew the salary of someone who was several tiers above them, that they often worked a little harder.

Article: Do you really want to know how much your co-workers make.

If you FEEL underpaid, you’re more likely to quite. Even if you’re paid market rate.  This is a key place where knowledge is power. Being informed on what market rate for a position like yours will let you know for sure. Unfortunately, as workers, few of us know what the ‘average rate’ for our position is. Having your employer share salary reports and what criteria is considered when setting compensation is likely to increase trust in the workplace.


If you find out that you are making less than your peers at your organization, employers are concerned that those in a ‘protected class’ (link to definition of protected class) will interpret the difference as discrimination. This is referring to the internal equity concept mentioned above.

The reality is, lots of HR experts advocate for pay transparency as a way to reduce discriminatory pay practices and unconscious bias. And while some lawsuits can be frivolous, this concern doesn’t outweigh the benefits pay transparency brings to organizations.

To address some of these concerns, some HR associations are advocating for public policies that create ‘safe harbors’ so that companies and organizations can self-evaluate pay and correct improper disparities in compensation.


The argument here is that employees who negotiated salaries in good faith and with the expectation of privacy have a reasonable expectation to maintain that privacy. If your organization is particularly concerned about privacy, you can still advocate for pay transparency practices. You can advocate for that the process of determining pay should be public, but not each individual’s salary.

You can also suggest a process by which employees agree to pay transparency. This is a delicate consensus building process, but can be done in small organizations with a culture of trust.

Organizational Change:

Change is scary for lots of people. The first, second, and third times you inquire about establishing a pay transparency policy, you might experience some knee-jerk reactions of ‘no.’ Experts in strategic planning and organizational change say that strong leadership and psychological safety need to be in place for organizations to implement change effectively.

Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished if you make a mistake. If your organization has established a sense of psychological safety for employees, it will feel safer to take the moderate risk involved in pay transparency, among other risks. Consider the dynamic in your organization and if you would say that people feel like they won’t be retaliated against if they take a risk.

Understand your proximity to power and identify your allies. It’s been said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but sometimes, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get promoted or is seen as ‘troublesome.’ It’s important to understand how, and how far, you can advocate for yourself and your colleagues when your access to decision makers is limited.

If you work at an organization with a compensation strategy that states the goal of paying at or above the median for all positions, and does it’s best to ensure internal equity, then pay transparency holds little risk to management. It is a natural next step in the organization’s work toward equity.

If you have no idea if your organization has a compensation strategy, it’s ok to ask. Here are a few things to consider as you refine your ask and some tools to guide you along the way.

What to Understand Before You Advocate for Pay Transparency

Understand your organizational culture and values.

Organizational culture is a set of shared assumptions that guide how you act within your organization. Your organization’s culture is based on values that come from assumptions about human nature, the organization’s relationship to its environment, which emotions are appropriate or encouraged, and how the organization defines effectiveness.

Organizational culture can be strong and effective, or weak and ineffective. A strong and clear organizational culture is what leads to effective teams, where an ineffective culture can lead to disengaged employees, high turnover, and bad service provision. Organizational culture may be made explicit through mission, vision, and values statements, but it is more likely to be undefined in your organization.

Some commonly used terms for describing cultures include aggressive, constituent-focused, innovation, fun, ethical, research-driven, hierarchical, risk-taking, progressive, collaborative.

In asking for pay transparency, if you have an organizational culture that aligns with equity, trust, and transparency, then you’re in a good place to make a request for pay transparency. If your organizational culture aligns with excellence and being the top in their field, you might also be in a good place to make a request for pay transparency.

If your organizational culture tends toward secrecy, hierarchy, pessimism (though these are unlikely to be explicitly stated, you’d be able to feel this culture at your organization), advocating for pay transparency is going to be an uphill battle. Consider how you can work with leaders to develop a more effective organizational culture.

Article: Management Center: How to Develop and Use Core Values

Understand some basics of human resources.

A good manager sees the bigger picture and the context your organization is operating in. A good manager will help you draw boundaries around your job so you can do it effectively- this means making decisions about what information is useful to you and what is information overload. Sharing the ins and outs of what work is happening in the organization’s human resource department (even if your organization doesn’t have a formally defined department) is often seen as irrelevant to your ability to do your job.

This means educating yourself is often an endeavor you’ll have to pursue on your own. Read a few blogs about budgeting and finance and some basic HR policies and practices. Keep in mind that policy change at an organization can move slowly as there are many moving parts to consider.

Resource: Strategic Human Resource Management

Understand political context.

If you find yourself on the more political side of this argument, where you understand wage transparency is about racial and gender justice, then it might be important for you to understand where your organization locates itself on the political spectrum. Does leadership have a power analysis? Does leadership take steps toward understanding how privilege and oppression operate within the organization? Does leadership have a critique of the nonprofit sector and mainstream philanthropy? You could consider asking your organization to build a sharper analysis around how to uphold values related to equity.

The market helps determine your salary. Best practices suggest that organizations compare themselves against the ‘market rate’ for a particular role. We know the market isn’t fair. If you’d like some radical writings on the nature of the nonprofit industrial complex, please read The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. The essays in this book provide a solid analysis on how nonprofits support systems of oppression, and case studies about how nonprofits have acted within the system to create social change.

The reality is, you work in the nonprofit industrial complex. You can change it, it’s ok to push for change, but change in large systems is incremental.

Resources for You and Your Organization

  • Class Action: Class Action provides a dynamic framework and analysis, as well as a safe space, for people of all backgrounds to identify and address issues of class and classism. We do this through powerful interactive trainings, workshops, presentations, organizational consulting, and public education. 
  • Vu Le’s Nonprofit as F**k blog. Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. 
  • Local Nonprofit Association Guidebooks: This example is from Montana Nonprofit Association. MNA Practices, Principles, and Tools (or your local nonprofit association) Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Montana is a comprehensive guide that sets forth principles, as well as legally required and organizationally recommended practices for all aspects of nonprofit leadership and management.
  • The Management Center: We want to see more social change in this country. We know that producing it is hard. Disparities in money and power mean that social justice advocates need to fight not just as effectively as their opponents, but more effectively. That’s where The Management Center comes in: we help social justice leaders learn how to build and run more effective organizations so that they can get better results.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: The Society for Human Resource Management creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces.
  • Industry Specific Compensation Reports: This example is dated, but you can get access to reports like these that are tailored to your industry and region if you a member of an association. Through the collaboration of RoadMap, the Data Center and the National Organizers Alliance (NOA), we are pleased to present the results of our 2012 National Compensation Survey of community-based organizing and advocacy groups. The study focused on salary and benefits information, as well as how social justice organizations build on their values in creating just compensation packages and thriving workplaces. 
  • Report from Payscale: Compensation Best Practices: Paying the right way, getting paid what you’re worth — it’s complicated, and it matters. Compensation used to be a dark art. Not anymore. PayScale helps employers and their employees understand the right pay for every position and effectively communicate about compensation.

Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers

Shyanne Wallace is the Program Coordinator for Eastern Montana CASA. When not being a fierce advocate for children in foster care, Shyanne spends her time with her daughters and Catahoula leopard dogs.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofits—the one I work for is no exception! Volunteering is at the core of how my organization operates. With no volunteers, there is no program. As a small, rural nonprofit, we must rely on social medial to get the word out to potential volunteers. Social media allows us to instantly connect to people in areas where the newspaper only runs once a week and there is no local television station. Potential volunteers are everywhere-and often where we aren’t looking. Use your social media influence to reach them and grow your program’s volunteer power!

Using Social Media to Recruit Volunteers

Using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram seems like an essential function of life for many of us….so why aren’t we using those platforms to recruit volunteers?! Having a huge audience at our fingertips is something that many people use to share pictures of their dog but fail to use this power to bring passionate people to their organizations. Time to use that scrolling for the better!

Check out this link from Volunteermatch.org!


In their 5 steps (spoiler alert!), the very FIRST suggestion is to share compelling content. This is crucial! No one will be passionate about your organization unless you are! The rest of the article goes through really simple steps to get your feet wet in social media recruitment efforts.

Content is EVERYTHING!

Here are some ideas for content that our organization has found successful:

  • Be inspirational: our organization advocates for children in foster care, but anyone can find something inspirational about their organization’s work. Nothing gives potential volunteers a call to action more than being inspired.
  • Share statistics: potential volunteers like to see that their work counts. Share direct examples of ways their volunteering impacts their communities. Our program also highlights volunteer impacts on the state and national levels.
  • Provide links to volunteer materials: if people can easily access an application, they are much more likely to fill it out! We even share our volunteer job description, so volunteers know our program’s expectations before they even submit their application.
  • Share events: when our organization has an event, we don’t just want our current volunteers to the in attendance. If the only people who know about your organization are already in it, you can’t grow.
  • Education: there are a lot of misconceptions about many organizations. In my field, many people confuse my team with state social workers…providing potential volunteers with facts and background of your organization is a great start.
  • Take news stories and give them local perspective: when Family First was passed, our organization shared what that looks like for Montana and our communities.
  • Follow up: always follow up with potential volunteers through a direct message. Even if their answer is “no”, that doesn’t mean “never.”

“Make an Impact” is an AWESOME engagement piece! Check out the link below!


This video has been very powerful when it has been shown to volunteers in our organization. It is not super specific, which means that it can be used in lots of different industries.

On the Back End

This article from Nonprofit Information shares ways to begin your recruitment campaign. Even though the article is a few years old, the information is a great spring board into your using social media for recruitment.


Take the time to create a plan. Social media engagement is a lot more involved than just posting random items to your pages and hoping for the best!

When you get to the “Trial and Error” portion of this article, I will share some of the shortcomings that our organization had when we first started using social media. I have to admit, I was totally clueless about actually planning when it came to social media. This made our Facebook really unorganized and not very appealing. Even today, we have a long way to go, but we are much better than a year ago!


As part of a national organization, I had thought that branding was pretty straight forward. Until I realized that many other local programs had created their own campaigns that looked very different from our program. Our national organization provided branding materials, but up until last year, they (quite frankly) were not very engaging.

As our new branding items have rolled out, our program has had more success with potential volunteers recognizing our logo, images, and even color scheme. Consistency has helped separate our brand and created a unified voice in our publications.

In my field, it is very hard to put a positive spin on children in foster care. Our national and state branding have helped turn situations that are normally filled with despair into a call to action for potential volunteers. Here is one of our newest branding pieces, which we put out this year:

We have received huge (for rural Montana) responses to this branding campaign. It’s really brought to light the difference that our volunteers bring to a child’s life by being their advocate. Normally, this image is followed up with statistics about how children with a CASA volunteer have better outcomes in the foster care system.


Using Current Volunteers

This article from Volunteer Pro takes the premise of “word of mouth” and shares how it can be used to recruit volunteers using the volunteers you already have. Most of this can be applied to digital recruitment…engage your current volunteers to share their stories. Maybe use social media to recognize service and milestones for volunteers.


Within my program, using face-to-face “word of mouth” tactics are very difficult. My organization covers 15 very rural counties in Montana, so we rarely have the opportunity for our current volunteers to share their stories in person. Using social media to allow our volunteers to share their stories and experiences has been a great way to share our message and inspire potential volunteers to join our organization.


Now, I know that an e-newsletter is not necessarily social media, but it can be a powerful recruitment tool. Anytime you have the chance to get a potential volunteer’s email address-DO IT! We have been able to share our newsletter with so many more people than just our current volunteers. Our newsletter has become something that people in our program actually look forward to reading. In each newsletter, we feature the following:

  • Upcoming events: this is where I include available trainings, volunteer events, etc.
  • News: each newsletter includes news that is focused on our program. I will often include pictures of our volunteers and staff in this portion. Additionally, there is a segment in each newsletter that is for news that is important to our industry. These news items are mostly from a state level but sometimes a national level.
  • Service recognition: this part includes a picture and small interview with a particular volunteer each month. This has become the favorite piece for volunteers as well as staff. Everyone looks forward to seeing who is featured each month.
  • Links to education: getting people together in rural areas can be difficult, so I like to include some sort of educational or training module in each e-newsletter. This gives our volunteers (and potential volunteers) ways to grow without them having to travel and incurring costs to our program.
  • Inspirational quote: our newsletter always concludes with something inspirational. I want anyone reading it to be left with a feeling that their work (and potential work) matters.

Some organizations feature a message from their Executive Director, but we chose not to go that route. We wanted the newsletter to be more focused on the volunteers and program versus the leadership.


Trial and Error

There is nothing harder than trying something new and failing. Our organization used to spend so much time and resources on doing face-to-face meet and greets, and these never resulted in recruiting many volunteers. As we have moved forward with social media, we have realized two things: (1) it doesn’t cost much, if anything; (2) people don’t have to leave their couch to be engaged with our organization!

One of the things that organization did not do well in the beginning was to “do a little homework.” We were sharing content that did not appeal to a multitude of demographics, so we were missing key audiences.

Another learning lesson for our team was that we initially did not engage with our virtual community. If someone posts a question on your page–answer it! Engage in dialogue to help humanize the page in front of your potential volunteer.

Having multiple admins can also create a bit of an issue. Not planning your posts and “impulse posting” can leave your page feeling disorganized. Having uniform language and looks to your posts give your page a “wow factor”, so make sure all of the page admins have an understanding of the social media plan.

Get after it!

Don’t let other similar organizations get to the volunteers in your community before you do! Be bold, and be willing to make mistakes. People want to make an impact on their communities now more than ever, but often times, they don’t know where to start. Catch their attention and share your message.

Best of luck!



Perfecting the Pitch

By Kelly Bouma

Kelly Bouma is a freelance film and live performance director and producer based in Missoula, MT. All of the skills she has acquired in her life have led her to actually use the degree she not so thoughtfully pursued 15 years ago in undergrad: Communications. 

A guide to selling your idea (and yourself). Where business and life skills meet.

Keep your eye on the ball.

the quality of a sound governed by the rate of vibrations producing it
a form of words used when trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something.

Elements of a perfect pitch.

There are many ways and contexts in which people pitch ideas. Let’s assume you have a great idea and you need to get funding. You have to describe your idea in a certain amount of time for a group of people who have the power to give you a green light, or at least a head start, on your project. This guide gives you ten ways on how to create and deliver the best pitch possible. The rest may be up to fate.


Storytelling is present in every aspect of our lives and is especially important to remember when “selling” your idea. People understand stories. They are innate to human beings. For more on the evolution of storytelling, check out Melissa Mendoza’s article.

Whenever you get lost preparing or delivering your pitch, always go back to the story.  Why is this story important to tell now? Make it urgent, relevant and most importantly–interesting. Let’s review Storytelling 101.

Parts of a story:

You may have a story within a story. Whatever your time limit is, be sure to begin and end your thought. People investing in your idea need to see the entire picture. I use to teach writing to kids, and they were always the best at shouting out the parts of the story. Think about all the classics: Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs. Apply this logic to your idea and how you are going to lay it out and how to captivate your audience.
The seven basic plots:
You’ve heard this right? I first heard this in reference to movies. Just for fun, try it out on some of your favorite books and movies.
  • Overcoming the Monster.
  • Rags to Riches.
  • The Quest.
  • Voyage and Return.
  • Rebirth.
  • Comedy.
  • Tragedy.
Last but not least, you need a hero.

It might be you or the protagonist in your film or novel. Make people fall in love with your hero. It shouldn’t be hard.

For a more detailed, brilliant account of this theory read: The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker (Really? You write books and your name is Booker, sir?)


So how does this apply to your pitch? Let’s take Voyage and Return and an idea I pitched for a short documentary recently as an example.

I have a hero, Lois. She is a character and very captivating on camera. She is an older adult who currently lives in Missoula, MT. She is socially active–visits the local Senior Center, plays pinochle at a couple of Senior Residences and where my interest perked up: she bowls. It opened my eyes to an entire movement I know nothing about: Senior Leagues.

The Voyage & Return comes in with her returning “home” to reunite with a couple of her best friends she started bowling with over fifty years ago…and who she hasn’t seen in over 30 years. Now is the time Lois, Marlene and Sylvia will bowl together again. Older and wiser, but in a stage in their life where bowling just isn’t the same. How does our hero reconcile with change?

Whatever your idea, even a business plan or solution–find a story. Know who your story is about, what happens, the problem or struggle and the (potential) resolution. You are putting your idea or business plan into a language everyone instinctively understands.

A Writer.

Find a writer and make friends. I’m lucky to be married to one. The lesson: the writing is where the pitch begins. If you’ve given presentations before or have enjoyed a backyard BBQ where your friends look engaged and attentive when you talk, you may think you can wing it. And you might, once or twice. But writing out your pitch takes it to the next level. Not only will you be more at ease, knowing which points you need and want to cover when, your preparedness probably leaves you (slightly) less nervous.

The most important quality of a good pitch is a concise, tight story (see above). I know…I know…this may sound redundant, but it’s TRUE! You have to include:

The WHO.




The WHY.

….and one more you may not have included in the traditional “5 Ws”–


An Actor.

Once you have written the pitch, you have to present it as if it’s completely off-the-cuff. The idea just came to you. You are brilliant. This is where it is helpful to be a trained performer or public speaker. Not many of us are, but here are some skills to keep in mind.

    1. Warm up your voice. Take a shower, sing your favorite song, do some scales, sirens and blow your lips (channel your high school choir class). You will feel silly. Embrace it.
    2. Stretch. If you believe in the power of Yoga, do your morning practice. Or go for a run and then stretch. Warm up your physical body.
    3. Memorize. I like to go on long walks/hikes to memorize while I’m moving. Know your script so then you can let it go and sound “natural” (like you’re not just reading a script)–this can only happen once you know your script really well.
    4. Practice. This goes along with #3 and goes without saying. Practice in front of your partner, your best friend or several friends. You will probably be even more nervous to do it in front of the people who love you.
    5. Get into character. You are a confident bad ass convincing a room of people your idea is the best.
    6. Energy. You are indeed performing–take it up a notch. This is not the time to go into a monotone, “take me seriously” mode. Let you, your personality come through.
    7. Body Language. Stand tall, shoulders open, chin up. Own the room. More on power poses later. Speaking of power…Judi?

Timing and Rhythm.

As you craft your pitch, remember to leave some space. Think about your pitch as a song. When you deliver your pitch, give the audience time to catch up. Find the rhythm of your story, the anecdotes, the numbers and your comic timing (spoiler, #10). Remember to make eye contact and find places where you can connect to those you are trying to convince. These moments are written into your pitch and can be practiced. Urgency is not always conveyed through speed. OWN THE ROOM.

You know who’s good at this? Comedians.


A few obvious reminders:

  1. Sleep.
  2. Eat breakfast/lunch.
  3. Warm up your voice and body (as detailed above).
  4. Give yourself time to get ready.
  5. Dress as expected, but make sure you feel comfortable in your shoes and outfit–wear something you feel good (and can move) in.
  6. Breathe.

You may breeze past this element of the Perfect Pitch. I’d recommend starring it. If you really only have one chance to win x amount of money or to acquire x amount of investors, you want to be your best self. Take a moment here to realize what self that is. When is the last time you felt physically and mentally on top of the world? I’m going to add a reminder here.

7. Visualize your best self. Your most confident self. Lift your arms up in a “power pose” (examples below) right before you walk through the door or on stage to give your pitch. Take it away Mick.

Know your audience.

The best advice I’ve gotten throughout my life is a genuine reminder that your audience wants you to do well–they want to love your idea.

In the cases where you know the judges, panel or ultimate deciders, learn about who they are. This will help you as you formulate your pitch. Make sure your idea is what they are looking for. Does it fit?

Know the criteria and the timeline. Make sure you hit those in your pitch, even briefly. There are two aspects of timeline here. Know the timeline of your project and the timeline of your pitch. If you only have 3 minutes, make it count and make sure you time yourself while you’re practicing to stay within that time limit while including everything you need/want to.

Know your competitors.

You may actually know your competitors. You may see them in the room as you are presenting. In an ideal world, these people become/are your friends and you pat each other on the back or give each other fist bumps as you walk off the stage. In a more likely scenario, it may feel a bit more cut throat. In either case, it helps to know what you are up against.

Don’t dwell on their work or their pitch–and certainly avoid psyching yourself out or comparing yourself to the other teams/participants pitching. That won’t help you. But watch how they work a room (or not). How do they tell a story? Does it feel genuine? Is there idea solid or are there holes?

Watch and learn. What is working, what is not… take note.

No competitors? Look in the mirror. We are often our harshest critic. Try to reframe this conundrum. Take it away HuffPost. Don’t discount yourself or your idea before you even cross the threshold. Remember the advice in the Acting section? It’s worth repeating: you are a confident bad-ass with a killer idea.

Be Nice.

To everyone. Not fake nice, but genuinely nice. I approve of anyone working for the greater good of the people. Hopefully that is the kind of pitch you are involved in. So, in the best case scenario, it’s a win-win for whoever walks away with the prize.

I’m a curious person. I love to learn and ask questions and I genuinely care about people and their ideas. This all applies to the element above, but make friends. You never know, you may work with them in the future.

Not the greatest song, but a good message. And talk about practice, includes some great rollerskating moves.


This is worthy of its own slot. And it’s good practice to remember to practice.

Side note: My parents put me in piano when I was little. I believe I took piano for about six years and I hardly ever practiced. Although I liked playing (as much as any 6-year-old likes to play piano) I begged my parents to let me quit so I could do gymnastics instead. They finally agreed, but gently told me I’d regret it. I do.

Here is an inspirational quote on practicing. It was hard to choose just one.

Through practice, gently and gradually we can collect ourselves and learn how to be more fully with what we do. 

-Jack Kornfield

Then I promptly looked up Jack Kornfield. Maybe now I will start meditating.

I like this quote as it implies practice is a lifetime uhh…practice. I am approaching mid-life (OK, I’m 36, but it feels like it). I have kids. I am married. I am more settled than I have ever been, and I like it. I have also been a working creative artist for many, many years and I am just now starting to feel/be (as Jack Kornfield puts it) “more fully with what I do.”

I’ve lost you, haven’t I? This section is very personal and contemplative, forgive me. But truly, practicing your pitch is an example of practicing in your life. Keep practicing and the rest will fall into place.

Make them laugh.

Drum roll. The final element of Perfecting the Pitch. Even if you are pitching a dismal idea or a solution to a dismal idea. Find lightness where you can…and where it’s appropriate. This can also come in earlier while you are preparing. Ask someone you know who exudes that sense of humor and lightness to help you ease into it.

Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Donald O’Connor says it best. This is a good note to end on. Good luck everyone–though maybe it isn’t luck. It’s a bit more passion and practice.

A Guide on Influencer Marketing

This guide on Influencer Marketing was created by Emmanuela Mitzalis, a student at the University of Montana who gets flights delayed on the regular.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Everyone who owns a device that connects to the internet has heard of, or has experienced influencers (if you haven’t that’s probably because you aren’t the right target market), but, what is an Influencer and what exactly is Influencer Marketing?
An Influencer is someone who has built a loyal following through their online content creation. Influencer Marketing is when companies partner with influencers to increase brand awareness or conversions among a specific target audience.

Continue reading “A Guide on Influencer Marketing”

A Guide On Amazon FBA

A Guide On Amazon FBA

This guide on Amazon FBA was created by Hailey Hall, a senior business marketing student at the University of Montana. In this guide, I will provide you with information surrounding Amazon FBA, including what it is, how to get started with it, disadvantages, marketing tips and tricks, opportunities, and how it will grow in the coming years.

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A Guide on Podcasting

This guide on podcasting was created by Natalie Drozdz, a student at the University of Montana, devoted cat mom, and podcasting enthusiast.

A microphone used for podcasting

What is Podcasting?

A podcast is a digital broadcast made available on the Internet. The word “podcasting” is derived from “pod” as in Apple’s iPod, the popular portable audio player, and “cast” from “broadcast”, meaning “to transmit for general or public use.” Podcasts are not only a great way to deliver content for people on the go, but they’re also an ideal tool to build a following and a sense of community. Blockbuster podcasts like NPR’s “Serial” with millions of listeners have brought a lot of attention to podcasting. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults listen to podcasts at least occasionally.

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