Your case for support (sometimes called your “case statement,” a term we will use interchangeably in this article) is one of the most important documents you can write for your non-profit. It forms the basis for all of your donor communications and asks, and provides a valuable resource to everyone who is soliciting donations on your behalf.
In this two part series, we’re going to take a look at how to write a strong and compelling case for support for your organization. In this first part, we’ll talk about what case statements are and why they are important. In Part II, we’ll offer a step-by-step plan for writing your case for support.
What is a Case for Support?
A case for support is one of the most important documents in your non-profit’s fundraising arsenal. Your case statement:
- Is donor-oriented / donor-facing (written for donors)
- Clearly illustrates your organization’s mission and vision for the future
- Tells donors why you need funding and what outcomes you are seeking from their investment
- Offers strong reasons why prospects should make gifts to your organization.
Simply put, your case for support is a 2-7 page document that tells donors who your organization is, what it has accomplished in the past, outlines your vision for the future, tells the donor why your organization’s vision matters and why the donor should care, and gives the donor a chance to get involved by making an investment in your non-profit.
If that’s still too wordy, I will try to boil it down even further: Case statements cast a bold vision for a better future, and invite donors to get caught up in that vision.
Great case statements include a mix of both emotionally compelling stories and descriptions of the work you are doing, as well as cold, hard facts that back up your claim to be a positive force in the world. In a great article in Philanthropy News Digest, Carl Richardson tells us that “effective fundraising is a result of telling your story.” Your case for support does just that – it tells your organization’s story in a way that leads to more gifts for your non-profit.
What Organizations Need a Case Statement?
Every single non-profit organization needs a case statement. Every. Single. One.
In my view, the case for support should be one of the first things you do when you form your non-profit. Without a strong case for support, you won’t be able to raise money. Without the ability to raise money, you won’t be able to carry out your mission. In short, neglecting your fundraising is neglecting your mission, and neglecting your case for support is neglecting your fundraising.
People want to give to organizations who cast a compelling vision. As you approach donors, they will want to know why they should care about your non-profit’s work. You know they should care. The case for support is your opportunity to show them why they should care.
If you want to raise money, you need a written case for support.
How Do You Use a Case for Support?
The case statement you write will form the basis for all of your non-profit communications. As you write newsletters, direct mail, your website, donor materials, etc., you should constantly be referring back to your case for support both for the logic and language you are using to talk to donors.
You should also create an “external” case for support that is shorter than your overall case for support and drawn from it, and that is suitable for sharing directly with donors.
This modified version of your case statement can serve as a sort of major donor prospectus that you can give to higher level givers that are considering a gift to your non-profit. Many organizations also use the case for support on their websites and in their grant proposals as the rationale for giving. Several charities I have worked with have successfully boiled the case statement down into a one or two page lower-level donor brochure that can be used at events, walk-a-thons and in other donor prospecting.
Every non-profit need a strong case for support, no matter how small or large the organization is or what its fundraising revenues are.
Click here to see Part II of this article, where we walk through a step by step plan for writing the perfect case for support for your organization.
Photo Credit: kevinzim