Essential Fundraising Tip: A Case for a Case?

Does your organization go from appeal to appeal, grant to grant, recasting its message for each next document? A case for support—the neglected child of fundraising communications—can provide consistency and clarity for your donors. Not to mention efficiency for you and your staff. Coming up with a hook can be the most time-consuming part of the writing process, and this tool forces a focus on that core message.

A case statement provides the most compelling reasons for your organization’s existence. A great one takes shape by asking those closest to the mission—staff, board members, donors—why they feel so connected to this organization. Contrary to popular belief, it is less a list of programs than it is your most rational and emotional reason for being.

The case becomes your mantra. It underlies all of your other messaging. Its contents become enmeshed in your website, your appeals, your grant proposals.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article touting the effects of repeated use of a message across multiple media. In some cases, when an image was emblazoned across a nonprofit’s website, e-blasts, direct mail pieces, even billboards, fundraising increased by double digits. Call it branding, call it marketing. It works. When that advertising is grounded in a case for support, graphics and taglines transform into well thought-out prose. It allows donors to translate those sound bites into something more substantial.

It can also serve as a donor cultivation tool. As you put this document together, you can ask supporters what they think about the draft and how they might suggest strengthening it. That process serves as a great reminder to donors as to why they love your organization. It also makes them feel part of your inner circle.

So, ask yourself and your core supporters: Why is our mission essential? Why do our donors keep coming back? Which of our stories is most compelling? What are some of our major successes? What is our vision for the future?

Once you have a solid case statement in place, do you still need to tailor communications for each individual donor or funder? Sure you do. But, the core of your message will be consistent—a drumbeat that makes your mission resonate.

An Occasional Series on Effective Fundraising Recommendations

About Susan Schaefer | Partners Newsletter

Susan is a consultant, writer, and speaker, and founder of the nonprofit consulting firm, Resource Partners LLC in the greater Washington DC area, and author of many books and her newsletter, Partners, all written with a mission to help nonprofits excel. Sign up for the Partners Newsletter here and find Susan's fundraising consulting books here.