The start of a new campaign can bring feelings of anxiety. You might be wondering, will I get all the funding your organization needs? Or, how can I be sure my supporters will back my vision? To hit your revenue goal, you need to be able to convince donors to get on board.
This is where a well-written case for support comes in. A case for support serves as a foundational document for fundraising campaigns. Schools and nonprofit organizations use it as a resource to outline financial needs and explain how funds will be utilized.
For your case for support to be effective, though, your team must be aligned with its core message. To help you nail down your campaign’s purpose and goals, we’ve listed four best practices to craft a compelling case for support:
- State the vision
- Identify the problem
- Formulate the plan
- Communicate how donors can help
According to NXUnite’s case for support guide, you can use this resource for a variety of fundraising initiatives, not just campaigns. For example, you could craft a general case for support to act as a broad explainer of your mission. Or, you could create an event-specific case for support tailored to your year-end gala fundraiser. With this in mind, let’s dive in!
1. State the vision
Your case for support should define the purpose of your campaign and its intended audience. This section is a description of what the money you’re raising will accomplish for your beneficiaries.
Keep this section short and concise by communicating the short and long-term benefits of your fundraiser. For instance, a school fundraiser aimed at raising support for a new gymnasium could focus on answering the following questions to get their point across:
How will your community benefit?
“We envision a new gym space where students can play more freely, enjoy physical activity outside of class time, and experience athletic enrichment.”
What are the long-term advantages associated with your vision?
“We believe that this space will greatly contribute to the mental and physical well-being of our student body for years to come.”
Avoid diving into your organization’s needs too early. Instead, focus on how you will use the funds to make a difference and keep the spotlight on your beneficiaries.
2. Identify the problem
Now it’s time to dig into what’s holding you back from making your vision a reality. Focus on answering these questions to ensure you’re communicating the roadblocks effectively:
What is the blocker that needs to be addressed?
Do you have a lack of available space? Are you able to reach your global beneficiaries? Is your organization missing key resources that would make its mission more effective? Back this statement with recent research and data or anecdotes to make it more concrete and relevant to your audience.
For example, a school might present anonymous observations from teachers and a nonprofit could show data and statistics about the consequences of limited resource allocations.
Why is now the time to act?
Some donors will have reservations about giving due to the timing of your proposal. Talk about why you’ve chosen this specific calendar timeframe and any associated windows of opportunities. Maybe you’ve acquired a record number of new students or seen a drastic increase in donor retention over the past years.
What are the consequences of inaction?
Note what will likely happen if your organization does not take action. The negative impacts most likely concern your beneficiaries. For example, a school could cite developmental slowdowns for students if they don’t receive the funding they need.
Answering these questions will contextualize the problem for your audience, so they can better understand what’s happening and why their help is needed. If you clearly articulate your roadblocks, they’ll be much more willing to jump in and provide support.
3. Formulate the plan
Spell out how you plan to raise the money. Collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure you’re all on the same page about the best path forward and finalize your next steps.
A simple way to create your plan is by using the SMART goal (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) framework. This will keep your plans actionable and concise. Calling back to our former example, here’s how a school raising money for a new gym space might draft its SMART goals:
- Specific: Develop a fully equipped fitness space including sports equipment, spectator seating, and a concessions area to meet community needs.
- Measurable: Install X square feet of gym space and X bleachers to accommodate everyone.
- Achievable: Secure necessary funding through silent auction fundraising, school budget allocation, and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
- Relevant: Address the needs of an expanding school community.
- Time-bound: Break ground by X month and ensure availability by X year.
By outlining these goals, you’ll be able to show donors and stakeholders that you have a clear plan moving forward. This lends to your credibility, helping to establish trust and show that your organization is uniquely capable. You can also refer to your previous fundraising successes to emphasize why supporting your organization is a good idea.
4. Communicate how donors can help
Discuss how donors can drive impact for your campaign. Because cases for support can be general or tied to an event or specific campaign, your needs will differ depending on the cause you choose.
For example, if you decide your case for support will back a specific campaign, you might decide on one of the following fundraising ideas:
- Fundraising auction: Explain to your community how they can support your auction. For example, SchoolAuction.net’s guide to auction ideas suggests offering a wide range of items, so you might ask your community for unique item donations. Or, ask for sponsorship introductions.
- A-Thon event: Dance-a-thons, walk-a-thons, and even bike-a-thons are popular fundraising events you can ask your community to participate in. Use your case for support to outline why you’ve chosen an a-thon event and how your supporters can help by attending, volunteering, or making pledges.
- Online crowdfunding: Communicate how donors can help you kick off your online crowdfunding campaigns through social media support and community participation. Describe how even small collective donations can propel your mission forward.
Conclude this section by reiterating the need for urgency with a distinct call to action that ties a donor’s gift back to your vision.
For example, you could say: “We invite you to participate in this year’s fundraising auction to provide a safe, active space for our students to enjoy”. Or, conclude with “By donating to our crowdfunding campaign, you’ll provide a warm and welcoming home for those in need this holiday season”.
Before sending out a final draft, collaborate with your team for additional feedback. Make the needed improvements so your case for support is as compelling and direct as possible. By incorporating these best practices, you’ll inspire and retain your donor’s support over the course of your campaign.