Over the years I have learned that major gifts are not just for capital campaigns. They are also critical for your annual fund which provides unrestricted dollars. I used the framework to grow my organization from a $750,000 annual operating budget to a $2.5 million budget.
It all started with a Case for Support or Case Statement.
So, what is a case statement or case for support? It is a compelling statement demonstrating the needs of your clientele in your community, how your organization’s programs impact that need, and the results you achieve. It is specific to your community and your organization. It focuses on local needs and shares tangible outcomes.
Writing a case for support can be a daunting and sometimes overwhelming task.
However, an effective case of support can excite, compel, and inspire your donors to dream big and raise their philanthropic sights.
It should be written with real donors in mind. It should include:
- An emotional appeal for why the project matters and convey the impact a prospective donor can make through participation.
- Is the message repeated across many channels?
- Does it tell what you achieve rather than what you do?
- Do you establish that you need money, why, and how it will be used?
At its core, the case for support should show how the donor can be the hero in transforming his or her community by making a philanthropic investment.
It is the guiding document for all fundraising. When you are doing your annual report look at the case for support. When you plan a fundraising event look at the case for support. Adapt pieces of it to your website around the giving pages or anywhere else you think it will help people better understand why their donations are needed and what they will accomplish when they give them to you.
Don’t focus your case for support on your organization’s needs. No one cares about them but you! What people care about is your organization’s ability to make a difference in the world…to help people live better lives!
Be sure you focus on that!
Here is a simple 7-part framework for developing your case for support.
#1: An Emotional Opening: Start with a story, not history. However, incorporate a brief organization history. If you are new use this section to talk about why the nonprofit was founded and give some details about the people who are on the founding board or team. Your opening should make the reader feel.
#2: Your Vision: Write two or three sentences describing your vision. What difference will the money you raise make in the world? (Notice, I didn’t say, what difference will it make for your organization.) The vision is not about your organization’s needs. Your vision is about the difference your organization will make in the lives of others. Think big. If your ultimate goal is a city where there is no illiteracy or every child has a personal library, say that. That’s an inspiring vision and one that will get donors excited.
#3: Your Problem: This is where you tell the reader what’s keeping your organization from achieving your vision. Describes what’s holding your back. This statement of the problem sets up the solution and your campaign.
#4: Your Plan: How will you overcome the problem so you can achieve your vision? Spell out simply what you plan to do with the money you raise and why that’ll solve the problem.
#5: What is the Return on Investment for the Donor: You may have a section in your case for support specifically reserved for programs, outcomes, statistics, and stories. More likely, you will pepper these items throughout your case for support to help keep your readers emotionally engaged and interested.
#6: Financial Needs: How much money does your organization need to raise this year? Or over the next 3 years? Why is it important to solve the problem now? (Every campaign needs a sense of urgency.) Tell your donors what the money will be used for, and how it will impact your programs and those that you serve.
#7: Call to Action: What can a donor do to help solve the problem and achieve the vision? How can they give and at what levels? You may include some mission-focused giving levels in their case for support. For example, you may say that $1,000 would provide a 20-book library to 20 kids.
Your case for support should use simple, clear, and compelling language to articulate what the financial resources you intend to ask people to give you will help you accomplish. Your case for support should answer the question ‘why do you need the gift you asked me for?’ If a donor has to ask you that question you’ve not succeeded in composing your case for support.
Once you’ve written up a draft of the 7 components of your case for support, you’re ready to ask for help.
Include the draft on your next board agenda allowing your board members to review and discuss the ideas you’ve spelled out. See if they flow. See if people find them reasonable and compelling. Find out how they might be made even more compelling.
Be sure to let people know that in this early framework document, you’re not after wordsmithing. You need their help to make sure that the ideas are:
- emotionally persuasive
I hope this helps. Let me know in the comments. Sharing is Caring.
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