Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Over the years, I’ve seen some amazingly powerful Case for Support examples – but I’ve also reviewed a number that miss the mark. Here are some of the most common mistakes that can significantly affect the impact of a Case for Support document and as a result, the chances of running a truly successful fundraising campaign.

Missed Part One? Check it out here!

6. Not focusing on what matters to your donor

Donors’ perception of your organization, what you do and your impact is often different from what you think it is. It is a mistake to assume that what staff members value is the same as what your donors, and sometimes even your Board, actually think is most important about your organization’s work.

When you develop your Case for Support, really think about your reader and what fires them up. What do they care about? What moves them, or makes them angry? It might be different from what drives you to do your work. And if you are not sure, ask them! Think about ways you can get to know your donors better, whether it is meeting them face-to-face, or looking at your donor data to see what they respond to.  Then make sure that what you learn about your donors’ motivations is reflected in your Case for Support.

 

7. The case is not urgent.

One of the most crucial elements of fundraising success is how quickly people are compelled to act and make their donation.  If there is any hesitation, or no compelling reason to act NOW (even if there is some interest), the act of making a gift may get lost in the course of people’s day to day lives.  Once you lose that opportunity, you may not get it back.

The key to a strong Case for Support is that it compels people to act.  In other words, the need is so great and urgent, and the solution to the problem is so clear and persuasive, that donors feel that they must do something, and do it now.

 

8. Lacking a clear call to action.

I’ve often seen Case for Support documents where the funding need is vaguely mentioned, but the actual ask for donations is very unclear or even unsaid. It is as if the writer is frightened to ask the donor for money outright, and is instead hoping the donor just “gets it”.

Once you have told your story, you need to make it clear what you want the donor to do next. If your ask is vague, or not direct enough, your donor might not know what you want from them. They might even feel frustrated that they’ve been taken on a journey towards the ask, but it’s not obvious how they can make a difference, even though they now want to give.

 

9. Not testing it.

Once you have a draft Case for Support, make sure you test it!  Find some donors and other supporters that you trust for their opinion.  You want to know:

  • Is the need clear? Is it compelling?
  • Does it make them want to act (i.e. to make a donation/gift of the kind you’re asking for)? If not, why not?
  • Is there anything missing in terms of the logic and presentation that impacts the reader’s journey? Are there things that are missing that could impact a decision to give/not to give?
  • Is there too much information? Does the reader feel overwhelmed or bored?
  • After reading the document, would the reader be able to speak confidently and accurately about the funding need?

This learning can be invaluable in helping you to refine your document and make it truly persuasive, before you reach out to the majority of your donors.

 

10. Waiting for the Case for Support to be “perfect” before using it.

One of the biggest mistakes I see is that organizations feels the Case for Support is never “ready” to be used as a fundraising tool.  People feel nervous about completing it, with a view to making it “perfect”, so it remains unused. In the meantime, fundraising is stalled and donor relationships start to drift.

It can be okay to keep a Case for Support in draft form, at least for a while.  An unfinished Case for Support is a great reason for a deeper conversation with your donors and within your organization at all levels, since it provides an opportunity to seek feedback, while at the same time finding out what motivates your supporters.  Then when you do go back to make an ask, it is much more likely to be in line with their interests.

Missed Part One: Check it out here!

Are you making some of these mistakes with your Case for Support?  How do you think you can rectify them so that you can create a compelling Case that is persuasive, powerful and motivates donors to give?  Got any great Case for Support examples to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Mena is a fundraising professional and consultant specializing in fundraising strategy and management, from capital campaigns to grant writing. She is the founder and CEO of Purposeful Fundraising, a consultancy firm that supports organizations to strengthen their fundraising capacity and to raise more money.

In a voluntary capacity, Mena sits on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Ottawa Chapter (AFP Ottawa) as Vice President of Professional Development and is on the Steering Committee for Prime Ministers Row, an initiative to create Canada’s first street museum.

Follow Mena on Twitter @MenaGain

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Over the years, I’ve seen some amazingly powerful Case for Support examples – but I’ve also reviewed a number that miss the mark. Here are some of the most common mistakes that can significantly affect the impact of a Case for Support document and as a result, the chances of running a truly successful fundraising campaign.

1. Not having one at all!

The Case for Support can be an extraordinarily powerful tool.  Whether your focus is on major gifts, or you are trying to figure out how to write a fundraising letter, it helps to ensure that you have everything in place to enable you to present your program effectively. It also provides the language, stories and information that your team needs to speak authoritatively, accurately and passionately about your work.

If your Case for Support doesn’t hit the mark, or if you don’t have one at all, your fundraising advocates – from your Board to your staff, including your fundraising team – will lack confidence and impact in speaking about your organization when they reach out to existing and potential supporters (if you need a Case for Support template to get you started, you can download one here).

 

2. Trying to educate, rather than persuade, your audience.

Often I see Case for Support documents that are bogged down with way too much detail about how an organization goes about its business.  Since the Case for Support is intended to persuade people to give, that should be its key focus.  Your readers are not looking to learn about your operations inside out.  If they want to know the details, they will probably ask. What they DO want to know is why it matters that they support you and how they can have a real and lasting impact.

Ultimately they want to make a difference, so your Case for Support should tell them how your organization is the right conduit to help them do just that!

 

3. Not including the RIGHT stories

Storytelling in your Case for Support is one of the most impactful ways to get your message across.  As we often hear, people give to people.  They want to know who would benefit from their support, and what it would be like to change someone’s world in a positive way.  Stories of the people that benefit from your organization can do this very effectively, by demonstrating how your organization meets a real need and helps people to overcome challenges.

This does not mean just any story will do. Your stories must be relatable.  Donors must be able to empathise with the person that they are reading about if they are to be persuaded to give. Your stories must also support and reinforce the other messaging in the Case for Support. In essence, your stories have a powerful role to play: they must persuade donors of both the need for your work, and the positive impact of your organization in addressing it.

 

4. Not taking donors on a journey.

Not only should your Case for Support include stories, but it should also have its own story arc. The Case for Support should take donors on a journey by first focusing their attention on the dire situation that your organization is addressing, and an urgent need to do something about it.  Then the Case for Support should educate donors about a solution to this problem, and impart a sense of hope and optimism. The point is to help donors feel that there is a solution, one that they can provide through you, and therefore that they can also BE part of the solution, by giving generously to your organization.

 

5. Worrying more about length than impact.

I am firmly of the belief that the flow of information in a Case for Support matters far more than length. I have seen very short Case for Support documents that were trying so hard to be “to the point” that the language was disjointed and difficult to read, while others have been so long that I got lost in the details. Others have lacked such important, compelling information, that they left me with far too many questions about why I should give my support.

The best Case for Support examples I’ve seen are those where I can read the document easily and smoothly from beginning to end, and feel that swell of emotion as I move towards that conclusion where I am compelled to act, then the Case for Support has done what it needs to do.  With that kind of document, length is much less of a factor.

 

Are you making some of these mistakes with your Case for Support?  How do you think you can rectify them so that you can create a compelling Case that is persuasive, powerful and motivates donors to give?  Got any great Case for Support examples to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Check out Part Two of Ten mistakes organizations make with their Case for Support on Monday, April 10, 2017!

About the Author

Mena is a fundraising professional and consultant specializing in fundraising strategy and management, from capital campaigns to grant writing. She is the founder and CEO of Purposeful Fundraising, a consultancy firm that supports organizations to strengthen their fundraising capacity and to raise more money.

In a voluntary capacity, Mena sits on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Ottawa Chapter (AFP Ottawa) as Vice President of Professional Development and is on the Steering Committee for Prime Ministers Row, an initiative to create Canada’s first street museum.

Follow Mena on Twitter @MenaGain