If you are hesitating, it’s time to get crystal clear as to the “why”.  Ask it this way – why would anyone want to invest in your organization?  A strong case for support will answer this question.  The reason you are raising money is the same reason donors would choose to support your work. Organizations with a social mission are focused on change in the community.  It can take many forms such as caring for the homeless, building an animal shelter, developing youth arts education programs, etc.  One thing any successful organization, that is dependent upon charitable donations for support, will have is a well-developed case for support.  It answers the “why”.

 Where do you start?

You may create several versions of your case to address different programs or services; you may also have the short and long version depending on who is using it and in what way.   For example, a written grant proposal may require more explanation, but when educating board members on how to tell the story, a one page summary of key points is more effective.

Regardless of format, there are six essential components to every case:

1. Define the urgent need being addressed.  What is the critical problem?  Grab attention early and with emotion.  A statistic or two is fine, but be sure to create a picture too.  Are children starving?  Is domestic violence on the rise?  Is the ocean polluted?

2. Tell a bit about the history of your organization to build some credibility.  Even if you have only been around a few years, you can point to your impressive board, some key accomplishments, and how beneficiaries have already been impacted.  Speak to your mission and the focus on solutions.

3. Share how your organization is uniquely positioned to solve the problem.  What sets you apart?  How do you do it differently?  What do you do well?  If you serve a specific demographic, if you are volunteer driven, if you incorporate academics, etc., talk about it.  Your work is special and potential donors may not know the details.

4. Prove it – share a specific, true story about someone who was impacted by your services in a positive way.   This testimonial could be the most important part of your case.  It’s emotional and personal, and the details about an individual are meaningful.  It may greatly influence behavior of funders.

5. Outline where the gaps are and why you need funding.  How will the money be used?  What is the goal?  Make it tangible so they can connect to the need.  For example, $500 will provide blankets and food for 10 people this month.

6. Then reiterate that together you can work to minimize the tragic effects of the problem. Remember –this isn’t about you or the organization; it’s about the critical need in the community.  Bring the value back to them so they understand the power of their gift to the community.

Drafting a case for support is a great exercise in creativity and purpose.  I would suggest getting key volunteers and staff together – heck, maybe even a donor or two – and work on it together.  I love to facilitate these session because the passion for the mission is palpable!

Send me your case when you get a minute.  I’d love to hear about your work.