I was recently asked by a client to provide some leadership advice regarding how to develop a quick strategy to increase major gift fundraising and attract new high capacity donors. I quickly responded with two requests of my own - “(1) Show me your vision statement and (2) show me your case statement.” In my opinion the latter is probably the most important and does not need to be a twenty page document. Case statements are obviously useful for everything from capital campaigns, to annual appeals and grant writing to developing a strategic appeal designed to attract new leadership level donors.
The key to writing a strong fundraising case is to anticipate the core questions that prospective donors may have about the project, answer them succinctly and to differentiate the effort for other projects/competition.
An important step is information gathering. Identify the following organizational information:
• your vision;
• your values;
• your strategic plan;
• your monetary goal and what that money buys;
• data on those you serve;
• information on emerging or increasing needs;
• descriptions of programs and services;
• proof that your programs are worth doing and that they work.
After gathering information, I recommend sorting it into categories to create “personal case,” which can be described as a collection of potentially useful information that’s unedited, confidential and not necessarily meant for circulation.
When developing the information for the case document, you should ask three questions:
Why us?, Why now? and Why you?
• Why us? — What is your organization doing that is so unique donors support its new plans?
• Why now? —Why is the fundraising initiative crucial today?
• Why you? — Why are donors/supporters critical to complete the vision?
A case, like a story, should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning presents the problem/solution, the middle supports the problem/solution with evidence and the end is the call to action, where you shift responsibility to donors’ shoulders.
Things that interest donors are:
1. Accomplishments, i.e., “What did you do with my money?”
2. Vision, i.e., “What could you do with my money?”
3. Recognition, i.e., “Did my support matter? Am I important?”
4. Efficiency, i.e., “Can I trust you with my money?”
Remember these simple ideas and you will be well on your way to developing a simple yet comprehensive case that will support your fundraising needs and further engage your next generation of loyal donors. Good luck!