When it is said that the Case for Support is the most important document an organisation can have, it is a surprise how many charities simply do not have one. A vital fundraising tool, it should be at the heart of your fundraising program alongside your strategy and planning documents.
Today we are going to share with you the first part of our Case for Support post; explain what it is and why you need it.
An effective Case for Support has the ability to engage with your donors more intimately, and motivate potential supporters to get behind your cause. Donors will understand your mission better, the work you do, and your vision to make a positive change in the community.
What is a Case for Support?
A messaging strategy. An explanation as to why people should support you. A story. A document at the centre of your fundraising plan.
A Case for Support is all of these things.
A truly compelling case statement is one that has a mixture of facts and emotion and both inspires and persuades. In Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, Temple, Seiler and Aldrich, dedicate a chapter to this topic, saying:
“The Case for Support is the general argument for why a non profit deserves gift support. The case is bigger than the organization and relates to a cause being served. The Case for Support is an encyclopedic accumulation of information, parts of which are used to argue that the organisation deserves gift support for doing its work.”
Your Case for Support should detail tell donors about your past, present and future. It should tell donors about your vision and dreams. It should inspire your donors to join you by making a donation.
This short video from the UK’s Institute of Fundraising provides a great explanation of the Case for Support:
Importance of a Case for Support
No matter how long your charity has been around, or even if you’re quite new, you will need a Case for Support to tell your story and encourage supporters to give. In fact, even if you have one, if it was written a few years ago, chances are it can probably be revisited so it is more relevant to what you do now.
Your Case for Support is a vital tool to have prospective donors understand the what and why of your organisation. If this isn’t understood properly you can miss out on your donors making that important connection with your cause. And it’s this connection that will ensure a donor supports you for the long term. It’s this connection that you can then strengthen through ongoing donor engagement and stewardship.
Your Case is your opportunity to explain the problem your organisation is working to solve and the impact you are having in doing so. The better you articulate this and inspire people to support your vision, the stronger your Case for Support, and, the stronger your fundraising results.
Different Formats of a Case for Support
Depending on who you are talking to, the format of a Case for Support can change from anything between a simple one page overview to a more detailed prospectus designed and presented professionally.
You should first develop an internal case; a compilation of all the information that paints the picture of your organisation. Generally, I would suggest in its simplest form, this should be a document of about 5-10 pages. It is the internal case that we will detail throughout this article.
There is also the external case, which can be prepared using various parts of the internal case in a brochure, leaflet or more styled format, to ‘sell your story’ to the philanthropic community, whether private donors, businesses or trusts and foundations.
Next month, we’ll bring you more details on exactly what to include in your Case for Support and some tips on how to write it so it actually inspires others to get involved.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick
Note: This article was originally published (in full) in the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) member magazine February 2015 edition following a presentation at the FIA Conference in Brisbane.