Every fundraising campaign needs a case for support. Here’s what to include.
As a part of your nonprofit’s fundraising committee, you know that securing donations or funding is no walk in the park. Unless your organization has years and years of credibility as an honest nonprofit to lean on, you have likely felt like a salesperson for your mission when convincing potential donors to support you.
Fortunately, there are tactics you can use to make fundraising easier, and one of the most commonly utilized ones is creating a case for support.
Whether your nonprofit is launching a brand new program or is looking to secure further funding for an existing one, if you want your fundraising efforts to be successful, you need a case for support.
Ahead, we’ve got everything you need to know about creating your own case for support, including explanations of each element you should have within one (complete with examples), plus a template you can download to get a head start on creating your own.
A case for support is a document put together by a nonprofit for prospective donors. The purpose of this document is to communicate what your organization does, the impact of your work, and most importantly, why a potential donor should support you.
A case for support can also be referred to as a “case statement” or “donor prospectus,” and the focus of your case statement can be centered on a specific campaign (such as securing funding for the launch of a new initiative), or to give a more general overview of your organization and all of its programs.
One of the most common types of case statements is a capital campaign case for support. Nonprofits create these for extensive fundraising campaigns in which they need to raise a substantial amount of money for a new project or undertaking.
Now you know the definition of a case for support, but what does one actually look like?
While every organization’s case for support will look different, the elements they include are typically as follows:
In the same way that a pilot episode determines whether a TV show will stay on the air, the first few lines of your case statement will influence whether potential donors continue to read. So, in order to draw your audience in and make them care about your mission, you should begin your case for support with an emotional hook. You can do this by featuring a quote or story that highlights the needs your organization is determined to meet.
Next, you’ll introduce your nonprofit organization to your potential supporters. Start with your mission statement (like YMCA did in the example above), then give a brief overview of the history of your organization and all of its ongoing programs. You can also share the names and headshots of key members of your board or fundraising team here as a method of building familiarity with your audience.
Tip: As you should with all fundraising communications, keep your audience in mind here. For example, if this case statement is for a new initiative launch and will be shared with individuals who have been benefactors in the past, you don’t need to go too in-depth when introducing your nonprofit.
What is the problem that your organization is seeking to solve? In order to have an effective case statement, you need to be able to communicate that clearly to a prospective donor. Using a combination of emotional and rational language, detail the challenges your nonprofit’s efforts are addressing. We highly recommend including statistical data that illustrates the scope of the problem your nonprofit is trying to solve, like in the example below.
Once you’ve laid out the problem in your case for support, it’s time to present your plans for resolving it. If the purpose of this case statement is to act as a general call for donors to support all facets of your organization, you should include explanations of each of your ongoing programs and proof of the impact they’ve had to date, whether in the form of a testimonial or data, or both.
Alternatively, if this case for support is being used to acquire funds for a brand new program, you should give an overview of the project and provide a timeline of the first few milestones you plan to achieve through it.
This is the most important section of your case for support because it’s your opportunity to ask the reader to contribute to your cause. Before you do that, though, you need to show that your nonprofit has a well-thought-out plan for what to do with your supporters’ financial contributions. If possible, try to include data visualizations of how funds have been allocated in the past and testimonials from former donors and members of the communities you serve.
Here’s a few questions that will inform what you add to this section:
- What are your funding needs? Answer this question for your readers right off the bat. Include a clearly defined fundraising goal that has a timeline and a financial figure attached to it.
- What will be the impact of fulfilling that fundraising goal? Don’t just detail which programs will benefit from donors’ contributions—try to communicate the change or actions that will become possible because of it. For instance, the Freerice game is an initiative where every question that’s answered correctly raises the cash equivalent of 10 grains of rice for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)—a great example of tying a specific outcome to the input of those who participate.
- How will this create a change in the community? If you are successful in reaching your fundraising goal, what will be the outcome of your organization’s efforts? You can use more emotional language here. Continuing with the example from the World Food Programme’s Freerice game, they will say that they will be able to improve food security and nutrition for communities facing emergency situations through donors’ involvement.
To wrap up your case statement, include a final call for supporters to donate. Add instructions for how they can do this in multiple ways (such as online, via check, or over the phone). If you have any other resources you’d like to plug here, such as a donor communications group, include those as well.
You can also end on an inspirational note by including your vision statement, which is different from your mission statement in that it describes what your nonprofit hopes to accomplish in the future rather than what you’re doing right now.