Building a dynamic Case for Support

The common factor of really successful fundraising programmes is a convincing Case for Support. Often considered to be crucial for major gift fundraising, they are a fantastic fundraising tool and resource that can be used across all your fundraising programmes.

Through this five part blog series, IFC Canada Director, Mena Gainpaulsingh will talk about the process in building a powerful case for support that grabs your donor’s heart, compelling them to believe that they simply must support you and that you are the answer to their philanthropic goals.

So what is a Case for Support anyway?

The Case for Support sets out what the organisation is fundraising for and why. It serves both an internal and external purpose.  Internally it can be used to ensure that all team members are fully aware of what the organisation is doing, gives the correct language to use when making approaches and helps everyone to give out the same message, a message that is accurate and emotive.

Externally the Case for Support should take the donor on a journey that explains what the organization does, what it hopes to do and why it is so important.  By the time the donor comes to the end of the Case for Support they should be completely clear of exactly what is being asked of them and why they are the person, or organisation, to help.

A clear Case for Support that is used across your whole fundraising program can help to make sure that everyone, from the Chair of your Board to the person who answers the phone, is on point with the organisation’s messaging and is singing from the same hymn sheet.

What a Case for Support is NOT

While a case for support is often informative, its purpose is not to educate.  As a fundraising document its goal is to persuade.  A mistake I often see in fundraising is that organisations use their Case for Support to tell the donor everything there is to know about the problem that they seek to fix.  Typically people only pick up a fraction of what they read, so you want to make sure that you focus upon the most impactful information about why your program is so urgent or important.

Which leads me to process.  Another common mistake I see is that organisations use the Case for Support to inform donors, in detail, about how they deliver their programmes. Process is much less important than impact.  How you do what you do is important in so far as it persuades the donor that you know what you are doing, but typically donors are much more interested in what difference you make in an issue that they care about.

What does it include?

We’ll go into this in more detail in a later blog, but I have seen a variety of Case for Support documents that vary hugely in terms of content, but all are equally powerful.

It is the who, the what, the why and when of your organisation. It expresses passionately the difference your organisation makes in the community or with regard to a particular issue.  It asks, and answers, the question “what if you didn’t exist?”.  Who or what would be affected as a result of your organization not being there?  It is also logical, demonstrating to a donor that your solution to the programme makes sense and that it works. It also talks about your funding need.

Crucially, it asks the reader to take an action, typically, to make a financial contribution towards your organization so that they can make a difference in an issue that really matters to them.

So what next?

Rather than simply being a wordsmithing exercise, the most powerful Case for Support documents go through a process that includes:

  • Doing your research, from understanding your organisation to what your stakeholders REALLY think of you
  • Determining what information to include and what to leave out
  • Developing your stories, and your own story arc that builds passion and commitment
  • Implementing a process for its dissemination and use

So if you have a Case for Support already, look at it with a critical eye.  Would it persuade someone who has never heard of you to get more involved?  Is it bogged down with information that might distract a donor from the compelling, urgent message that you are trying to get across? If you do not yet have one, what do you think are the most important things that your donor needs to know to make a decision about supporting you?

Next time: Doing your research to ensure that your Case for Support is donor-centric.