At the start of a brand-new campaign, it can be difficult to gain the support you need, even from dedicated donors. It may not be immediately obvious to supporters why they should support your new project if they’re already donating to your organization.
This is why creating a compelling case for support is an essential part of launching any new initiative. It can galvanize and motivate existing supporters, as well as inspire new donors that are eager to be a part of your vision. However, crafting a compelling case for support isn’t easy. To make sure your case for support delights and inspires your community, here are the essential elements to understand:
- What is a Case for Support: FAQ
- Writing a Compelling Case for Support: 5 Steps
- How Graham-Pelton Can Help
With Graham-Pelton’s help, you’ll be able to create a case for support not only for your most pressing campaign but for future campaigns and for more general organization-wide support. Let’s get started taking your case for support creation skills to the next level.
What is a Case for Support? FAQ
A case for support is your core message, distilled into a printed or digital document, that shows prospective donors what your organization will accomplish with the donations it raises and how their support will drive that impact. A case for support can be developed for a specific campaign or can be used for general fundraising.
Why do you need a case for support?
When created for a specific campaign, your case for support helps inform and convince potential donors that this project is worthy of additional investment by connecting your vision to their philanthropic priorities. Even if they are already supporters of your organization’s mission, a case for support can inspire them to increase their philanthropy and lead to transformational levels of giving.
When it comes to a general fundraising case for support, your case serves to strengthen your messaging and help you acquire new donors who may not be familiar with the work that you do. A general case for support shows prospective donors why they should support your organization and your cause.
How do you design a case for support?
Your case for support should be a well-designed and engaging document that not only tells your story in words but also appeals to your readers visually. While it does not need to be a work of art, it does need to be clear, cohesive, and branded.
Ensuring that your case for support is eye-catching is essential to getting your reader’s attention. You want your reader to be interested enough to begin reading it in the first place. Keeping your text direct and to the point increases the odds that they’ll finish reading your case for support. Don’t be afraid to use white space to avoid overwhelming your reader, and use visual elements, color, and composition to help guide your reader’s eye through the material in a natural way. If you don’t have someone on staff that has an eye for design, it is worth considering hiring a professional graphic designer to help you design your case for support. From freelancers to agencies, there are options for any budget.
What should be in a case for support?
Your case for support should always be aimed at donor motivations and sparking an emotional response. Whether you’re writing a general case for support or a case for a specific campaign, the final product should include:
- Your Vision. Your donors need to know where your campaign or organization is headed. Think of this as offering them a roadmap of your campaign.
- Your Priorities. Give your donors an idea of what you’re aiming to achieve so that they can understand the impact their donation can have.
- Your Impact. This element of your case for support helps donors understand the impact you’ve had in the past, which shows them why your organization is both worthy of their donation and capable of succeeding with this campaign. It can also help show them the impact that you plan to have at the end of the “road” you illustrated.
- Your Voice. The case for support should reflect your organizational or campaign brand. Avoid jargon and generic language, and incorporate things that are recognizable and uniquely yours, like your core values.
To get these elements right, you’ll want to work cross-functionally with different departments of your team to fine-tune the messaging. This ensures that no one element overshadows another, helps maintain more accurate and consistent branding, and engages internal stakeholders in the process.
Writing a Compelling Case for Support: 5 Steps
1. Determine your purpose and audience
The general purpose of your case for support is, of course, to communicate why someone should support your organization or a specific campaign. But, in order to write a truly compelling case for support, you’ll need to get more specific than that.
To aid your writing and make your case for support appeal to readers on a more personal level, determine a specific purpose and ideal donor persona that you’ll address in your writing. For example, you may identify your target supporter as a middle-aged suburban mother with two kids who is passionate about her children’s education. Your purpose may be to get her to donate $500 to your campaign to revamp the library’s inventory.
Because this “ideal” audience and purpose only serve to help you write more personally, it is not information that you will share with the reader. It also does not mean that you only want that type of donation from that type of person. This practice simply helps you avoid writing too generally and keeps your case for support focused on the specific outcome you are after.
2. Put together a team to work on your case for support
In order to ensure that you’re communicating your case effectively and in a manner that matches your organization’s standards, it’s helpful to put together a team of internal stakeholders who can provide input. This helps ensure that you’re creating ownership and buy-in as you go.
While they don’t all need to play an equal role in the process, having feedback from a variety of voices from within your organization will be very helpful. Your team might include:
- Key senior leadership
- Key board members
- A few members of your program staff
- Development staff
In addition to getting feedback from internal stakeholders who are already familiar with your organization and branding, you’ll want to gather feedback from external stakeholders. They can include:
- Constituents who use your organization’s services
- Existing and target donors
- Existing and target corporate partners
Having feedback from both internal and external stakeholders is important for getting an accurate perception of your case for support. This will allow you to better balance external expectations with the elements you need to communicate.
The most important aspect of your case for support is the narrative: the story you craft that tells the reader why your organization is worthy of philanthropic support. But before you begin writing, draft an outline to make sure you’re addressing all of the key points and most important aspects of your campaign. Use the outline to gather feedback and insights from others.
Once you have a strong outline that gives shape to your messaging, it’s time to begin writing. Don’t worry about images or visuals yet – focus on getting the narrative right. A few tips to keep in mind as you put pen to paper:
- Keep your writing concise and clear. Brevity is key!
- Use a strengths-based approach. Focus on the strengths of your organization and how they will help drive this project forward.
These tips will help you maintain the clarity and purpose of your outline as you add more information and detail.
4. Gather data, quotes, and stories
Now that you have a clear narrative, gather information to back up your claims. Are there testimonials from those you serve that illustrate your impact? Do you have stories that bring your mission to life? Are there data points that concretely demonstrate the need? A few sources of information that can be helpful include:
- Your mission and strategic plan
- Specifics about your program or project (fundraising goal, timeline, key leadership, etc.)
- Costs, budgets, and/or how you intend to spend the dollars you raise
- Impact stories and statistics
- Quotes and testimonials
- Photos, graphics, logos, and other brand elements
By showing your supporters what to expect from you, you can demonstrate the worthiness of your project.
5. Design your case for support
Finally, it’s time to design your final document. Don’t forget to follow these best practices to make a highly effective case for support:
- Make it visually appealing. Don’t be afraid of white space and bold use of color. Select images with high impact and avoid stock photos. Use font styling, size, and color to add hierarchy and help the reader know where to look.
- Maintain brand consistency. All elements of your case for support should use your branding elements to make it look cohesive.
- Include a call-to-action at the end. Remember, the goal of this case for support is to secure support. Give readers an immediate next action while you still have their attention.
With these best practices and the feedback of both your internal and external stakeholders, you’ll be in a position to succeed in creating a compelling case for support. Putting in the time and effort to have multiple rounds of feedback and being very intentional with your work will pay off in the end.
How Graham-Pelton Can Help
At Graham-Pelton, we believe that the true value of creating a case for support is in the process. While you are aiming to create a deliverable, the iterative, inclusive, dynamic process of working through the messaging with your internal and external stakeholders is what creates ownership, engagement, and affinity. That’s why we put an emphasis on our Visioning Sessions, which are specifically designed to help you connect with donors on an emotional level as you appeal to them for support in your latest campaign.
Combining decades of firsthand experience with recognized behavioral and cognitive research, marketing best practices, and change management theories, we’ve developed a 5-part framework that helps fundraisers organize their thinking.
Our framework can work for any organization to help craft an outstanding case for support, no matter its unique purpose. We guide you through the entire process that not only results in a polished final product but also gives you greater clarity about your nonprofit’s messaging and mission.
Writing a compelling case for support that clearly communicates your purpose in pursuing a campaign is a crucial part of gaining the support you need.
While it’s particularly helpful for convincing supporters of the necessity of a specific campaign, a case for support can also be useful for acquiring new supporters for your organization as a whole. Regardless of your purpose, make sure you follow all of the tips in this guide and reach out to Graham-Pelton for assistance in creating a top-notch case for support.
To learn more about nonprofit development best practices, explore these additional resources from the Graham-Pelton team:
- Conducting a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study: 5 Steps. Once you develop a preliminary case for support for a capital campaign, you’ll need to gather feedback in a feasibility study.
- Why Donor Qualification Is Key to Fundraising Success. Donor qualification allows you to prioritize prospects for outreach, ensuring you’ll fundraise efficiently.
- Grateful Patient Fundraising: 5 Best Practices for Success. If you work for a healthcare institution, you’ll need to know the unique best practices of grateful patient fundraising.
- Prospect Portfolio Management: The 3-Step Strategy You Need. A robust development program requires well-organized portfolios to manage and track prospects over time.