So you want and need raise more money for your nonprofit organization. Before asking for support you need a really good “case for support.” There are at least 6 questions every nonprofit needs to answer to create an effective fundraising case for support. A case for support done right is reflective of or even a version of your strategic plan. While you may be able to raise money without answering all of this, it won’t be sustainable and the gifts won’t keep getting bigger over time. This applies to campaign or annual fundraising. If you take the time to get the case right, you are setting up a strong foundation that you can build upon over time.
To quote one of my favorite colleagues and a former boss, Roger W. Shepard, “Whit,” a case for support must be these things:
- Believable: There must be a clear relationship between an organization’s present strengths and its’ vision for the future that can be attained with the support of philanthropy.
- Comprehensive and simple: as opposed to complex and lengthy
- Exciting: You must inspire donors to invest in something that matters
With that said, here are 6 questions to help you create or update your organization’s case for support:
Who are we?
This is the introduction. It’s a short orienting statement with type of organization, location, people involved, perhaps why you were founded, etc.
2. What is the problem we work to solve?
This should define and frame the societal problem your organization is looking to solve. Ideally you should outline the scope of the entire problem with statistics. This needs to evoke an emotional reaction from your reader like, “Oh wow, that really is a problem that needs to be solved and soon. “ You want to inspire action (aka giving).
3. Why do we exist?
aka your Mission statement
4. Where are we going? (in order to solve the problem above?)
This is your vision statement or specific view of what the future holds when the problem is solved or at least ameliorated. A good way to start this is with the phrase, “We envision a world where . . . .”
5. How do we get there?
These are your plans for exactly how to get to your vision state that you just outlined. This is the time to get really specific. Outline your flagship programs, products, theories of change. Describe your partnerships. If you have a really big problem to solve, you can’t do it alone. How are you going to reach all of the people you intend to affect with limited resources?
You need to get specific with the population you serve and numbers of people impacted/depth of impact. How will you measure your impact? Very few donors like to throw their money into a black hole and not understand why their gift makes a difference. This is often the toughest section to write! (If you hit a road block here, it might be time for some strategic planning too.)
6. How can donors help?
Describe the impact of their gift, their investment in your organization. This is where you describe exactly how contributions from individuals (or you could have other versions using this same model for corporations and foundations) can help you solve the problem you described above and create the change you intend to foster. You may include lists like, “A gift of x supports y.” You can also include the mechanics of how to give (online, write a check, give stock, etc) and the donor benefits with various levels of giving.
Passing the sniff test
If you can answer all of these questions in a way that “passes the sniff test,” to quote Whit Shepard once again, you’ll be well on your way to attracting donors who can’t wait to align with you in service of your mission. Passing the sniff test means that all of the answers to these questions make sense together, which is often easier said than done.
If you need help crafting a great case for support to help your organization raise more money, I’d love to partner with you!