The Case for a Case

A solid resource development program has many components, including a development plan that outlines goals, strategies to achieve them, and tactics, methods, metrics, and accountabilities to operationalize the strategies. Generally, the development plan identifies campaigns, fundraising events, grant possibilities, and approaches to access other funding sources. The development team then translates each of these to specific actions they will take to reach the desired goals, resulting in grant submissions, campaign plans, event plans, and the materials that support them.

While grant and government applications often dictate the information they need to make a funding decision, campaign and event plans tend to have a more flexible structure. What amazes me when I review these “homegrown” plans is how many lack a key component – the case for support.

Also called the case statement, the case for support is a critical document used to inspire donors to support the mission. The goal of the case for support is to educate and connect the donor, providing enough information about the specific need to inspire additional conversation or, ideally, a gift.

So why is the case so often overlooked?

The answers vary. Some believe the mission should speak for itself, not requiring additional explanation. Others use existing materials – an agency brochure, for example – as a jumping-off point for a future ask. Still others are unsure as to what should be in a case statement and how to use it.

A single organization may have multiple cases for support that address their specific individual program, general operating, annual fund, and capital campaign needs. A case for support should include the following elements:

  • Overview of the organization’s mission, vision, values, and history
  • The problem you are trying to solve or need you are addressing
  • How your organization can uniquely meet the need or solve the problem
  • The total amount of money required
  • The impact resolving the problem or addressing the need will have
  • A call to action

The length of a case for support varies depending on the format and audience. Some stakeholders require more information, and others just want the basics. A university capital campaign may include pages with renderings of future buildings while a simple tri-fold brochure could suffice for an animal shelter requesting operational support.

Regardless of length, the case should utilize mission-related images and ensure text is concise and to the point. The case format should also take into account the varied style preferences of the readers and provide a good mix of data, charts, and success stories.

A good case for support can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that falters. Better to be safe than sorry!

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