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Ten Tips to a Compelling Case for Support by Laura Alexander
August 26, 2014 11:50 pm Published by

Your case for support is the single most important document your organization needs for successful fundraising, yet many of us never take the time to write a truly compelling case.  These ten tips will help you develop the best case for support for your organization:

    1. Listen to your donors.  Visit with at least ten of your most loyal donors and ask them why they support your organization.  I guarantee you, no one will articulate it better than they do.
    2. Make program staff your friends.  Shadow the people who do the heart of the work in your organization.  Ask them to show you around, explain the work, and tell you their stories.  You want them to respect your expertise as a fundraiser, so start by respecting their expertise in programmatic areas.  They are the primary source of information for you in your job, so keep them close.
    3. Read as many cases as you can get your hands on.  One good source for that: websites.  A website is essentially a case for support online, so you can learn a lot by looking at the sites of organizations you admire.  You can also search the internet, trade cases with colleagues, and find samples in books.
    4. Research research research.  Get as much information as you can about the issues related to your mission: community needs assessments, studies, articles, outcomes data.
    5. Test the draft with your donors.  Create a simple word document, label it draft, send it to your donors with a request for a meeting to get their advice and feedback.
    6. Tell a great story.  The story of one person, one animal, one family, one art lover, is much more profound than the 10,000’s served.  Donors need to relate to one-on-one with your clients if they can.
    7. Include amazing photos.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Invest in professional photography so that you have a bank of photos you can use to help your mission come alive for your donors.
    8. Appeal to the heart and the head.  Ultimately, the decision to make a gift is an emotional one, and you have to move people, but you also have to answer their questions, increase their confidence, and gain their trust with reliable information.
    9. Get professional help if you need it.  If you need a writer, a photographer, a researcher, or a professional editor, and you can afford it, it will be worth it if your case for support is truly magnificent rather than merely satisfactory.
    10. Make it a living document.  Keep reading, writing, and massaging as you get feedback, find new research, collect more stories, or get inspired.