- Emily Weisgrau
PARTNER INSIGHTS: How a Case for Support Will Help Your Organization — And How It Won't
A case for support can take several forms: a major gift proposal, a one-sheet, a designed brochure, or a prospectus for example. The document may make the case for supporting a program, a capital project, endowment, or a comprehensive set of priorities.
No matter the format or the purpose, your case for support should answer ten key questions (though not necessarily in this order):
1) What is the problem?
2) Why now?
3) What is the solution?
4) How does the solution relate to our mission, vision, and values?
5) Why are we uniquely positioned to solve the problem?
6) How do we propose to bridge the gap between the problem and the envisioned solution?
7) What will it cost?
8) How will those funds be applied?
9) If we are successful, how will it transform the institution, our constituents, our community, etc.?
10) How can a prospective donor be a partner in that transformation?
Having worked with clients who struggle to answer these questions, please believe me when I tell you that strategic planning at the organizational or programmatic level before getting to the case stage will make the writing a million times easier.
Inevitably, if planning has not happened first, it will happen during the writing, because it simply has to. You can’t convince a donor to support your cause without having clarity on the answers to the above questions. It will be a challenging and, at times, frustrating process, but teasing out the answers to those ten questions is actually one of the benefits of having a case for support.
Producing a case is also an opportunity to engage stakeholders. A case must be tested with prospective donors before it’s ready for prime time. And even then you should expect and plan for the case to evolve. (Pro tip: print on demand or digitally in small batches so you don’t end up with stacks of obsolete and expensive case statements in a dim corner of your office.)
Now, let’s say you have the perfect case statement. You have carefully planned and carefully articulated those plans. You have beautifully balanced data and storytelling to tug at the hearts and minds of readers. You have presented exciting opportunities for giving and packaged it all into a branded publication.
The money should come pouring in, right?
Not so fast.
Because even if you follow all the best practices of writing a case for support there is one thing a case for support is not and can never be.
A case for support cannot be your sole fundraising strategy. It must be one component (an important one, but still just one) of a larger plan.
A case for support cannot replace a face-to-face meetings with a prospect, a carefully researched and segmented prospect list, a network to connect you to the right donors, and a solid plan for bringing it all together.
That’s why I often collaborate with consultants like Lipton Strategies whose engagements with clients are designed to assess the big picture, set goals, develop a multifaceted approach to achieving those goals, and help implement tactics. Earlier this year, we collaborated on a case for support for an exciting new initiative of the American Medical Association Foundation. By teaming up, we delivered more value to the client.
So, if you’re preparing for a campaign or are already in the silent phase, be sure to ask yourself: Do we have solid answers to the questions necessary for a compelling case for support? Do we have a writer on board who knows how to weave those answers into a persuasive document for donors? Do we have fundraising counsel to guide us through our campaign and manage all the moving pieces? If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, it’s time to pause and find the right partners.
Lipton Strategies is proud to have Weiswood Strategies Ltd. as a Strategic Partner. Weiswood Strategies works with mission-driven organizations to translate their visions into communications that deepen donor engagement and increase contributions.
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