How story landed CMHA a research grant

Fast Pitch Rocks!

“I understand you are really good at this story stuff and it’s going to help our staff, but I just want you to know that I am a researcher. I believe in data. This story approach is not for me.”

That’s what the head of research and staff development of Canadian Mental Health Association of Manitoba said to me just after signing the contract to train the staff and said,

Knowing this about her, I felt particularly gratified to hear her say at the end of the staff Power of Story workshop: “That was hands down one of the best workshops I have ever been to.” 

But the real proof of impact came less than a month later when that same researcher called me up again. “We have a chance to apply for a research grant for a youth mental health project. They don’t have a funding application. We have to pitch our idea in four minutes at a national conference. I can’t believe they are going to make me do it! I need your help.” 

I coached her and another staff member, building on the story skills they learned in the workshop. The pitch was structured around the story of one teenager and a ‘zoom in/zoom out’ technique that connected the teen’s story to the big picture. Theirs was the only pitch that used story and they won one of three $25,000 research grants.


Cecily was a truly a Fast Pitch star. She was digging deep from the moment we started the Story training. The training includes skills and practice on how to present a short and compelling pitch in front of a live audience. Her pitch included stories of other’s lived experience, and I coached her to find ways to be genuinely connected to her pitch, including a technique called ‘emotional mapping’. 

Halfway through the 6-week Fast Pitch process she threw her hat into another ring. That’s when I got the email with this subject line: “Fast Pitch Rocks!”

 I decided to personally join 100 Women Who Care,” explained Cecily. “One hundred women get together 4 times a year and each person commits to giving $100 (x4) to a charity. You show up to the meeting…everyone writes down a charity of their choice on a paper. 3 are randomly selected from a basket to make a 3-5 minute "pitch." Then, of those 3, everyone votes on which one they want to receive up to $10,000. AND CANDACE HOUSE WAS DRAWN! AND THEN I PITCHED! AND THEN I “WON"!!!”

 I checked in with Cecily recently and she says she’s continuing to successfully utilize a story-based approach with funders, clients and stakeholder.


Valued Clients