Since 2013, The Funding Network (TFN) has delivered pitch coaching workshops to more than 2,000 non-profit leaders. These intensive workshops use proven storytelling techniques, taught by leaders in the field, to give participants a clear framework to engage and inspire potential donors and partners. Every charity who participates in a TFN event is provided pitch coaching prior to the event. Over the years, for-purpose organisations who have participated in these workshops have gone on to collectively raise over $27 million from donors across Australia.

A holistic approach to communications

Emily Carr is one of the experienced pitch coaches who run pitch coaching workshops for TFN. As a strategy and leadership consultant with over a decade of experience, she dedicates 10% of her time to working with non-profits and delivers workshops for TFN Alumni and non-profit clients, helping other charities build capacity to attract fundraising into the future.

Over these past two years Carr has seen the value of Pitch Coaching for all participants. “When we start each session, the biggest challenge for everyone is always ‘how am I going to get everything I want to say into a 6-minute pitch?’” says Carr. “The coaching teaches them the craft of storytelling and that structure helps them get really clear on the message.” What Carr truly appreciates though, are the holistic effects this new communication skill has beyond the pitch itself. “Pitch coaching is an amazing tool to use across your organisation,” explains Carr. “You can take this learning away and apply it to your website, to any communication materials and even to your networking.” 

During COVID, charities and non-profits were obligated to move their operations online to help fuel their fundraising and as a result have become more comfortable in the digital space. “It’s also given far more people access to capacity building programs offered digitally, like the pitch coaching,” says Carr. “I’ve run so many more of these since we have been able to offer these online. I’ll have someone calling from their truck on the side of the road, or from far north Queensland – no matter where they are, they can still participate. TFN’s shift to digital delivery has enabled that access.” 

Emily Matthews from Big Brothers Big Sisters presents at a TFN Crowdfunding event in 2022

Pitch coaching presents an ongoing value for all participants

Non-profit leaders and fundraising teams who have participated in TFN pitch coaching consistently confirm that the skills gained at these capacity building workshops present a value equal to the donations they have received. 

For Chris Lombardo, CEO of Victorian social enterprise Bridge Darebin, the ripple effects of TFN’s pitch coaching continues to provide opportunities for her organisation. “The experience with TFN was priceless,” she explains. “I’ve used the knowledge from the pitch practice continuously when presenting the organisation to funders, donors and at forums. It’s helped me be more confident in communicating our message to the public.”

Loretta Lilford, co-founder of HUG foundation’s Smiling Hearts Uganda international development program, speaks to the experience of many grassroots organisations that do not have any prior history pitching for funding.“Personally, I learned to believe in my ability,” says Lilford. “Even though I wasn’t a CEO with corporate experience, I actually did have the ability to pitch. I was extremely grateful for the amazing coaching as this allowed me to present my case for support proudly and confidently.”

Chris Raine from Clean Slate Clinic presents at a TFN Crowdfunding event at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Brisbane 2022

Top tips for charities to grow their donor networks


You need to be able to communicate your mission beyond the facts and the figures. For it to resonate with people you need to make it personal, you need to tell that story and create empathy and a connection through that. 

Sharpen your message

Every organisation delivers so many wonderful programmes, but for the message to connect you need to pick just one. If you try to talk about everything, it will get confusing, so make sure your Call to Action is concise and specific. 

Get everyone on message

Everyone in your organisation should be able to communicate your mission statement quickly and clearly. Consider pitch coaching as an essential investment in giving your team – from the board to volunteers – the capacity to network and communicate better for stronger connections in every setting.

TFN offers standalone workshops to non-profit leadership teams, boards of directors and community foundations. Find out more about how Pitch Coaching can benefit your organisation.

Andrea Heffernan is Purpose & Impact Director with The Funding Network.