Of all the areas that charities tell me they struggle with, presenting their organisation to donors seems to be a problem for many. To be honest, a lot of this is down to a lack of confidence when it comes to fundraising. After all, charities talk effectively and enthusiastically about their work, their field and the people they work with. So it is just a question of changing focus rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That said, no-one likes being out of their comfort zone as it’s difficult to know whether or not your ‘doing it right’ so I thought I’d write a post about how to make a funding case to potential donors: what you need to consider and what you need to include.
Your ‘Case for Support’ is an important tool in terms of communicating your message to donors and encouraging their support. It should provide the donor with key information about your organisation – what are your aims and objectives? Why do you do what you do? Your case can be tailored either for each individual project that you are seeking funding for or to highlight areas in your work that are key interests for the donor or sponsor you’re approaching. It is important that, while the overall message remains the same, the approach is tailored to the language/objectives/areas of interest of the person, trust or company being approached for funding. Your case for support should avoid jargon and, where possible, try to write it from the perspective of the donor – how can they help, what will be of interest to them – rather than your organisation.
So what should you include in your ‘case’?:
Why should the donor should give to your organisation – what is it that you need and why is it important?
How the donor can contribute to activities – how will their gift make a difference, what will it fund?
Key information about your organisation – what are your aims and objectives, how do you make a difference, what successes have you had to date/why are you the best place to invest in this work?
So, to go into a bit more detail, a Case for Support needs to communicate:
Your organisation’s activities – which should come from vision/mission statement
Level of need, why important and why do you need it now? Try to create a sense of urgency
A picture for the donor about your organisation, using facts and figures
The specific objectives of appeal – how will your organisation meet the needs of beneficiaries
History/recent success – show why you are the most suitable organisation to make this difference
If fundraising fails, what will happen?
How much money is required over what period of time?
How donor will make a difference – think about the potential gift they may make and, where possible, illustrate how it will specifically help
Focus on outcomes – describe what you do and include examples
Your case for support should be regularly reviewed and updated, to include any particular successes in terms of fundraising or other income achieved.
Hopefully, that will give you a few hints as to where you can start to build upon your case for support. Start by working on a general case that includes all of the relevant information about your organisation and your fundraising needs. This will be the backbone for your fundraising and should be able to stand on its own although you may want to adapt it according to who it is being presented to.
This is by no means a definitive list but I use it as a checklist to make sure I’ve included all the important information that donors want to read about every time I develop a fundraising case for support. Let me know if there’s anything else you would add. You might also be interested in a bit of further reading: