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It is well known in fundraising circles that a written case for support is a “must have” tool to be used in a comprehensive or capital campaign. The case does what its name suggests: it makes the case for why donors should give to support your campaign priorities.
But what about making the case for your organization’s core programs, which you fundraise for each and every year? An organizational case for support articulates how those programs advance your mission, providing a compelling rationale for donors to regularly support your organization. It tells your story in a vivid and inspiring way.
Done right, your case for support will serve as a fundamental building block and guide for all your fundraising communications—internal and external.
Create a “Living” Case for Support
Of course, you want and need your story to be current and relevant from year to year. To accomplish this, think of your organizational case for support as a “living” document. Establish a folder on a shared drive where you can save relevant information that keeps the case up to date. This might include program highlights, notable successes, client and donor profiles, new initiatives, and data that demonstrate impact. Encourage your staff to develop the habit of contributing to it year-round.
Will this effort require staff buy-in and ongoing commitment? Absolutely. But I would argue that it’s well worth the effort. I want to make the case (pun intended) that developing – and consistently maintaining – a “living” organizational case for support can be transformational for your nonprofit organization.
Here are three reasons why:1. It offers an excellent opportunity to gauge your story-readiness.
The ability to tell your story in a compelling way is absolutely critical to engaging and motivating current and prospective donors. Your story needs to be rooted in your mission, vision, and values, to demonstrate how your programs will help realize your goals, and to explain what resources will be needed.
The process of crafting an organizational case for support reveals whether you have any critical gaps that hamper your ability to fully share your story in a clear, captivating, action-inspiring way. Do your programs flow from, and align with, your mission and strategic plan? Are you able to measure – and effectively convey – your impact and value to stakeholders?
2. Establishing a common vocabulary enables you to powerfully deliver your message to multiple audiences.
If you asked five staff or board members to describe the impact of your programs and why donors should make a gift to your organization, it’s pretty much a given that each one of them will tell that story to you (or to prospective donors) in a different way, right? Imagine how much more effective – and how much easier – it would be to have consistent, thoughtfully chosen language that supports your key messages, without having to reinvent the wheel or align varying perspectives every time.
In the same way that brand guidelines ensure a consistent visual identity for your organization, your organizational case for support provides a “story identity” that keeps your messaging consistent and mission-focused whether you’re writing a major gift proposal, annual fund letter, social media post, or talking points for a donor meeting or event.
3. You always have a fresh, effective, and strategically aligned resource at your fingertips to help you build support and nurture donor relationships.
Updating your case can inspire your fundraising team as well. Adding information that highlights your organization’s value and impact helps you celebrate your accomplishments and reminds you of the importance of your work.
I predict you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it becomes to regularly update and improve your “living” organizational case for support and how essential a guide it will prove to be in your fundraising and communications efforts. In fact, you may wonder how you previously managed without it.
Are You Making the Most of Your Case for Support?
Your ability to tell your story is critical to connecting with, inspiring, and spurring donors to action. To learn more about the key elements in a highly effective, “living” organizational case for support, drop us a line here and we’ll connect you with one of our fundraising experts.
Amy Blumenthal, CFRE, is Vice President at Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt.