This inspirational speech sample – and my tips for speaking at a charity ball – is from my experience with a fundraising gala with Big Sisters. The best ideas for raising funds for a charity involve sharing how your charity affects people.
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If you’re raising money for a charity, read The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising by Jennifer McCrea, Jeffrey C. Walker, and Karl Weber. They show how traditional pre-scripted, money-centered, goal-oriented fundraising techniques lead to anxiety and failure – no matter how many inspirational speeches you give! Open-spirited, curiosity-driven, person-to-person connections lead to discovery, growth – and often amazing fundraising results at charity balls and in other situations. Through engrossing personal stories, a wealth of innovative suggestions, and inspiring examples, these fundraising experts show nonprofit leaders how to build a community of engaged partners who share a common passion and are eager to provide the resources needed to change the world. Not just raising money, but investing time, talents, personal networks, creative thinking, public support, and all the other forms of social capital that often seem scanty.
In this post, I share the inspirational speech I gave at a fundraising gala dinner (not quite a charity ball, but close). In this speech, I share what it’s like being a Big Sister. I break the speech down into specific parts, so you can use the format as a sample inspirational speech for your own charity ball. Don’t copy the content of this inspirational speech, of course! Use the details I highlighted in bold as hints that will make your own inspirational speech and charity ball excellent.
We got a standing ovation after we spoke at this fundraising gala dinner, by the way! It was AWESOME. At the end of my inspirational speech, I share a link to an article about public speaking tips. Also, Big Sisters’ goal was to raise $210,000 for the charity, and they succeeded. 🙂
And that’s your first tip for raising funds for a charity: Know how much money you want to raise. Be bold, and don’t be shy about asking for money for your nonprofit organization.
Inspirational Speech Sample for a Charity Ball
Word for word, this is the inspirational speech I gave at the Big Sisters Fundraising Gala.
Hi everyone, I’m Laurie, and this is my BIG Little Sister, Sarrah. (This is funny because my Little Sister is physically bigger than I am).
How this charity changed my life
Without the Big Sisters organization – and all the sponsors, volunteers, staff, and board members – I would never have met my Little Sister Sarrah. And I would’ve missed out on one of the highlights of my whole life: being a Big Sister.
Without Big Sisters, I would have also missed out on being a Little Sister! When I was 11 – about 32 years ago, give or take a few dozen years – I had my own Big Sister. We were matched for about a year, before I moved to a different city. Even though we were only together for a short time, my Big Sister changed my life. I’m not even sure what she did or how she did it. It was just that she made time for me and listened to me. She made me feel good about myself, and I am 100 per cent certain she changed my life in ways I can’t even comprehend. My mom struggles with schizophrenia and I’ve never had a father in my life, and having a Big Sister made me feel happier, more confident, and more loved.
What this charity does for girls and women
I believe Big Sisters changes girls’ lives by making them feel valuable, special, and unique.
The more confident and loved a girl feels, the more likely she’ll make good decisions that help her succeed. And it’s not just individual and families who benefit from – the whole community is positively affected when girls make smart choices! So, I was wrong when I said I’m not sure how my Big changed my life. It was simply that she changed how I saw myself and how I felt about myself. This in turn changed how I saw and interacted with the world. The beauty is that a Big Sister doesn’t have to be university educated, or be young, or cool, or trendy, or wealthy – she just has to have an extra couple of hours a week to spend with a girl.
What life would be like without this charity
This is an important part of an inspirational speech at a charity ball: what if the organization didn’t exist?) If I didn’t have a Big Sister, I don’t know if I would have become a Big Sister myself. For me, it just seemed like a “no brainer.” But, even though I know firsthand how powerful it is to have a Big Sister, I was a bit worried about committing to a year – or more!- to being a mentor.
Setbacks the volunteers, the charity, or the organizers of the charity ball faced
My biggest worry was that my Little and I wouldn’t connect. Spending 2 to 4 hours together once a week is a big commitment – what if we didn’t like each other? What if we had nothing in common? I feel so lucky to be paired with Sarrah. Our big sisters counselor, Michelle, did a wonderful job matching us. The first time we ever met was in a park right beside her home. Sarrah’s mom, brought some delicious baking and fruit, and I was so touched at her thoughtfulness. I brought my dog Georgie, because I thought she’d help break the ice. I was right; the ice was broken and has stayed broken the whole time!
Successes (every inspirational speech needs success stories)
Sarrah is so smart, curious, interesting, and fun to be with. She’s open to trying anything and everything, and looks on the bright side of everything that happens. She takes after me that way! I’m particularly impressed that Sarrah is so willing to try new things, because she was isolated for the first few years of her life. She didn’t’ go to school until grade two, and now she’s getting A’s in grade seven. I love that she wants to be a doctor or a writer when she grows up – and I’m encouraging her to be both.
Specific examples of how the charity operates
We’ve done lots of fun things together, as you can see from our photos…but my favorite is walking our dogs at Ambleside beach and getting a slurpee. Sarrah’s favourite slurpee flavour is everything all mixed together or when I was growing up it was called“Swamp Water”, and mine is plain old coke and Dr Pepper. So far, slurpee flavours is the only thing we disagree on! We talk a lot, and Sarrah has shared challenges she faces at school with her friends. She’s also talked about the changes she’s experiencing in her life, and I love being a sounding board for her.
One of my best memories is when I gave Sarrah the choice between doing two super fun fantastic activities. She said she didn’t care what we do, she just wants to spend time together. That was one of the most beautiful, kindest things anyone has ever said to me! I feel the same way about her – it really doesn’t matter if we’re walking the dogs or wakeboarding, it’s wonderful to just be together.
The growth of the charity
The biggest change I’ve seen in Sarrah is her increased confidence in herself. When we were first matched, our first outing was the Big Sisters picnic in Stanley Park – in the pouring rain! Sarrah was so shy and quiet, and she spoke so softly that people couldn’t hear what she was saying. Now, I am so proud of how confident she is. When we were at the library last week working on our speeches, she went to the librarian by herself to ask for a guest pass for the computer. Before, she would’ve been too shy to do this alone. She takes the bus by herself now, and even has a job delivering papers. Her first job!
Conclude the inspirational speech with an “ask”
Being a Big Sister is amazing – and I’m so grateful to the Big Sisters organization and all its supporters, volunteers, staff, and sponsors. Because of you all, Sarrah and I have a friendship that neither of us will ever forget. I look forward to many more years walking alongside Sarrah as she enters high school, starts thinking about boys as more than pests (which I hope doesn’t happen for a long long time!), and drives me to the 7-11 for our slurpee breaks.
Thank you! Thank you so much for making such a Big difference in our lives, and for giving me and Sarrah the gift of friendship.
Summary of an Inspirational Speech
In your charity fundraising speech, describe:
- How and why your charity is life-changing, both specifically and generally
- The challenges your charity has overcome, or is overcoming
- The successes you’ve faced as a charity or an individual
- End your inspirational speech with an ask for a specific amount of money. Don’t be shy about asking for money – that’s what charity balls are for.
This inspirational speech is from my heart, which is what made it work. If you’re giving a speech at a charity ball, write it from the very core of you! The more authentic and sincere you are, the better your fundraising efforts, inspirational speech, and charity ball will be.
What do you think about this sample inspirational speech, and do you have any comments on raising money at a charity gala or dinner? Comments welcome below!
May your inspirational speech roll off your tongue at the charity ball, and raise more funds than you can count.