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Writing a Case for Support that Inspires!

    The Case for Support is the statement of your cause explaining what your nonprofit does, why it’s important and, most importantly, why people should support you. This statement serves to inform all communication pertinent to raising funds. It appears in applications for grants, appeals for support, on your website, and wherever you need to explain why a potential donor should support your organization.

    So,it is important to write one that is inspiring; that draws the reader in and moves them to respond both logically and emotionally by supporting the cause. Here are some tips for doing just that: 

    Write With Passion

    It is often hard to draw back from everyday pressures to write on a broader scale about the vision and mission of your organization with the kind of passion that first inspired you to become involved. However, being able to write with this kind of passion is absolutely crucial to writing a successful Case. If you don’t communicate the passion, it is unlikely that anyone reading the document will feel it.

    Try stepping back and remembering why you are doing your job in the first place, re-reading the mission statement and revisiting some of the case studies of people your organization has helped. Undoubtedly, you’ll find that passion!

    Appeal to Readers on an Emotional Level

    As George Stanois reminds us in 12 Step Fundraising [2], people give to people, not a cause or bricks and mortar for that case, so while it may be your first instinct to use the Case to make rational arguments for your cause, remember that it’s far more important to appeal to people on an emotional level.

    Engage them in stories about how the organization has made a difference. Stories with memorable or unusual details will stay with readers longer than dry organizational facts or program descriptions. Andrea Kihlstedt in Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work [3] suggests conducting interview with individuals who have been helped by the organization to breath life into the Case.

    Make the Problems Real

    It is also important to make the problems real for your prospects. To do this, you need to know your audience and how your message will be important to the person you are writing to. Speak directly to them and show them how you solve problems that they care about – for the community, the planet or needy people – while impressing upon them a sense of urgency; that the time for action is now and that their donation is a necessary part of the solution.

    Make it Brief and Interesting

    If your Case is too long or dull, prospects are going to put it down no matter how perfectly it is written, so try not to not drown supporters in data. If you have a lot of statistics, include them as attachments and try to spruce it up with interesting quotes and captivating stories about how your organization has helped people. Also, remember that the first page should act as a stand- alone summary of the entire proposal, as many readers will only read the first page, so present your whole case there: what you want to do, why it’s important, why you will succeed, and how much it will cost.

    Make it visually appealing

    Include lots of pictures, graphics and text boxes that highlight your organization’s achievements. It is not bad practice to put as much effort into the design and imagery as the text itself. It will help your Case stand out and make it much more engaging.

    Improve, Improve, Improve

    Ask lots of people to help you improve your case for support. Give it to your nonprofit colleagues, your friends, even a few prospects and listen to what they say. If they misunderstand the strategy or goal, rewrite it until it can’t be misunderstood. If they don’t immediately see the importance of what you want to achieve, rewrite it until they do.

     

    Notes

    [1] Panas, Jerold. Making the Case: The No-Nonsense guide to writing the Perfect Case Statement. Institutions Press, 2003.

    [2] Stanois, George. 12 step fundraising with George Stanois (Step 1: Develop a Fundraising Case for Support). Available at: http://www.12stepfundraising.com/?page_id=7

    [3] Kihlstedt, Andrea. Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009.

     

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