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More of Your Most Important Fundraising Tool

Last month we shared with you some important details about your Case for Support – every charity’s most important fundraising tool; what is was and why it was such a vital part of successful fundraising.

Now, we are going to get into the nitty gritty of exactly what you should include in your Case and how to make sure the one you write is inspiring.

Components of a Case for Support

There are eleven key elements that need to come together to make your Case for Support and tell your charity’s story:

  1. Organisation Overview: It’s nice to be able to provide a brief, but clear, description of your organisation in 50-100 words.
  2. Mission, Vision, Values: This provides some insight into what type of an organisation you are and what you stand for.
  3. Organisational History: Your credibility often stems from your history and the overall stability of your organisation. Be sure to include any outstanding achievements.
  4. Objectives: Along with your vision statement, your objectives help share the direction you are heading.
  5. Governance: An organisation is little without strong and sound Board members and management. In this section it is good to include a brief bio on each of your key people.
  6. The issue you face: Here you can describe the challenge in the community that you hope to overcome. Be sure to use statistics and facts to substantiate your claims.
  7. How you will resolve the issue: This is where you can explain the programs and services you offer and exactly how they will address the issue you outlined earlier. Tell people how the work you are doing in the community is making a difference. Provide a case study or testimonials. Make it as real as possible.
  8. Beneficiaries: This is possibly the most important part; who is your charity actually helping? Sometimes including both the primary beneficiaries and the secondary ones is a good idea.
  9. Expected Outcomes: What benefits do you anticipate as a result of providing your programs and services? It’s important to be specific here if possible.
  10. Evaluation: How will you be able to prove that what you are doing is having an impact?
  11. Budget: Itemise the projected expenses for your organisation and programs. Whenever possible demonstrate the funding sources you anticipate, that way, potential supporters will know there is an overall plan for obtaining the remainder of the funds if they do decide to invest.

In preparing your Case don’t forget that your organisation has a lot of valuable intellectual property in its people. Utilise these resources; interview Board members, a few select long term donors or even volunteers.

Writing a Compelling and Inspiring Case

Now that you have gathered all the components of your Case you need to bring them together to tell your organisation’s story in the most compelling and inspiring way possible. As Ken Burnett said in his book, Zen of Fundraising, “Open hearts and minds first, then wallets“.

Here are a few tips to remember when it comes to doing this. While these tips will be beneficial, it always helps if the person chosen to write the Case can write competently. If writing is not your strong point, this is where you should really hand over to someone else (whether internal or external to your organisation).

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  • Writing is a solo act: Whilst it’s great to get insights from others, your Case needs to ultimately be written by one person, not a committee; otherwise it can become tedious and frustrating.
  • Be concise and clear: While you need to provide detail about what you are doing, you need to do so with clarity and brevity. Don’t say in 500 words what you could have said in 300.
  • Language: Your Case needs to be persuasive so use present tense and emotive words. Use simple language; avoid jargon and be aware of acronyms. You want your Case to ooze passion.
  • It’s all about making a difference: Emphasise the social outcomes, or benefits, your organisation produces. This is heart of what you need to convey in your Case. While what you are actually doing is important, it’s what happens as a result of your work that is going to make people sit up and take notice.
  • Write, edit, and rewrite: Look at the first draft as an information dump and once you have it documented you can edit it. After your first edit, have a few select people edit it too. Ask them to look for certain things like factual accuracy, persuasive language or any missing details.
  • Have strict deadlines: You need this document sooner rather than later to start using in your fundraising programs, so it is best not to let the process drag on too long. One month should be enough; and definitely no more than three months.

So, if you want your organisation to go from just surviving to really thriving, one of the best ways to do this is to put together a brilliant Case for Support. Remember, the whole point of this document is to inspire people to donate to your cause, so make sure it’s moving and motivating. Good luck!

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.

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