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Keynote Speech Ideas

​Have you been asked to give an address to help raise money for a nonprofit, say, a homeless mission? Excellent! You have the opportunity to help change the lives of people less fortunate.

What will you talk about?

If there's no theme, think about the cause. In this case, to raise money. Answer the questions you know potential donors are asking:

  • How will my money be invested?
  • I can only give $100. Will it really make a difference?
  • Aren't homeless people just lazy? Isn't your organization encouraging laziness?
  • I'm (pick a political party). Aren't you just a front for (the other party)?

The questions can be answered several ways. One is to explain the nitty-gritty: 

  • Your money will help 1,000 homeless men and women this winter with clothing, a warm meal, and, of course, a place to sleep.
  • $100 goes farther than you might think. It will buy 25 good meals, for example. Or it will purchase five bed sheet and pillow sets. Or 10 pairs of pants.
  • Most homeless people are with us just a short while as they are able to get a decent job and save a little money. We have a job training program helping people get on their feet faster. 
  • Not at all. A homeless person might be a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. The same with those of us trying to help. A cold night, no one cares who you voted for.

Tell Stories 

That's right. "Once upon a time," is a fine start. Tell success stories. Any organization has them -- whether tiny nonprofit or giant corporation. Mention people known to all and those so far behind the scenes, even HR can't remember their face.

Use drama. Present a problem and then the solution.

Stats and Slides and Money

Watch out for statistics. Seriously. Speak in general terms unless it absolutely matters that you use exact figures. The odds are your audience will tune out.

The same is true for slides. Avoid them like the Plague.

Be honest. If the hard times are ahead, say so.

Ask for money. If you need $10 million, don't ask for nickels and dimes. Accept any gift of any size, but be direct.