It’s hard work. It always, always takes much longer than you expect. Think in terms of months and months, instead of weeks and weeks. It could take as long as a year to have the entire process fully vetted from content, to writing/editing and design concept/review.
It raises a lot of temperatures.
Everyone from the CEO to each member of the Board, Development Committee and Campaign Committee each believe their edits are the best and most appropriate.
And, there are 5,000 different writing styles.
So, have I gotten your attention?
Get the idea that writing a Case for Support is hard? It is. But, it is like everything else in life. The original investment is upfront and once you have discussed what you want to do, why, and how you plan to get there, you will ease into putting it down on paper.
The Case is what you will share with the widest network of donors, so it should speak to all audiences and, often, the best way to accomplish that goal is to have a pocket in the back where you can also insert special descriptions of other aspects of your programs, your updated board and committee lists, etc. so that the Case can be further individualized.
NEVER send a Case out with a cover letter and expect it to produce any support. It is intended for those where you are having face-to-face or group conversations at campaign events.
It should be the visualization of your cultivation and solicitation of the donor, not a solicitation in and of itself.
So, how do you begin?
- The Vision: Organize your team’s thinking around the vision for the campaign. Write down your thoughts and flush out how you would begin to sell that idea to an audience that doesn’t know your organization very well.
- The Problem: Talk aloud with the working campaign team about the problem that your organization is trying to solve through the campaign and why that would be important to the community your organization serves. Write it down and what’s now preventing you from doing just that.
- The Plan: What is your organization planning to do that would solve the problem if you had the funding? Explain the plan and why it will solve the problem.
- Why Does the Plan Need to Be Put in Place Now?: What happens if the funding cannot be realized. This should not be a negative overview but a very realistic assessment of the situation and what would happen next. All Case’s need to have a sense of urgency to achieve maximum fundraising results.
- What Can a Donor Do to Help Solve the Problem?: What are you looking for from them? What are the giving levels and how many donors do you need at each level? This is a perfect insert so that you can also show how much has been raised in gifts and pledges at those levels when you are meeting with the donor. This is your “Call to Action” and any language around why donors are critical is very important; e.g. “Our support has traditionally been from private foundations and government contracts. That has vastly changed over the past five years and …..”
- The History Trap: Avoid at all cost beginning your Case with a pat history of the organization that is easily available on all your general documents and on your website. Donors know how to get that information already. What you need to solely focus on is the donor’s interest in hearing what new and compelling information. Your case should lay that out clearly, concisely and with many visuals. We all see far too much information in text form and our eye and our attention goes right to a strong visual message first and foremost.
- Vet with the Community: Lastly, early on make sure that your Case concept is fully vetted with an advisory group of community members. Hopefully, this was from a Feasibility Pre-Campaign Study! Extremely important.
That’s it. No pressure.
To hear more from Nancy, visit the Brimhall & Associates website.