Why You Need a Case for Support

Lisa Tarshis
December 1, 2020

Now that we’ve hit December, I find myself thinking about my clients’ fundraising communications toolkit so that I can prepare them for the coming year.

So much of fundraising is about clear communication. You spend all day talking about the work your organization does, the people you impact, and the difference you make in the world. How can you make sure your team is telling a story that resonates with your audience and makes them feel connected to your organization? After all, connection is the key to giving.

A few weeks ago, we talked about identifying your organization’s key audiences, which is step 1 in effectively communicating with your constituents. Step 2 is making sure you can clearly articulate the “what” and “why”. What does your organization do and why does it matter?

A case for support is a fundraiser’s golden ticket. How many times have you had to draft a proposal for a major donor and sifted through old documents (for far too long) before finding the language you were looking for? Or when has a member of your team drafted something that you looked at and immediately thought was not “on message”?

I find that organizations without a case for support often face these challenges:

  • No two people are making the same pitch
  • Communications come from different voices and have different tones
  • Donors struggle to understand why their dollars are needed or the impact their gift will make
  • It takes many hours to craft written materials, leading to high stress and tight deadlines

Your case for support solves these problems. It is a guiding document of agreed upon language that lays out, as its name suggests, the case for making a gift to your organization. By taking some time to create this document once, you’ll have the language you need for a wide variety of communications. This will save you time and make sure your team and volunteers stay on message throughout the year. No more sifting through old files – you’re about to streamline your communications once and for all.

A case for support can come in different shapes and sizes. Some of my cleints have a 2-3 page 2-3 page document and pull paragraphs at a time, while others have a less formal list of talking points and sentences that can be used in various contexts. Regardless of the format, this becomes your boilerplate language that you can pull from time and time again.

Here are some key elements to include:

  • Clearly outlined mission
  • Brief overview of your key programs
  • Stories or quotes that highlight the impact of your work
  • Giving priorities and the impact of the dollars that support them
  • A call to action that lets people know what you are asking them to do and why they should do that right now

When making the case for your organization, your job is to form a connection between the donor and the organization. Think about the heart first, then the mind. Are there impact stories you can share that make a donor feel connected to a program participant? And then can you share a statistic that allows them to multiply that impact by the number of people who feel that way each month or year?

We know that people give to people, so take this opportunity to humanize your work and build a relationship the way you would in person. To get you started, I’ve included a storytelling guide as this week’s freebie. This guide was created by communications experts at Statement Communications.