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


Posted by & filed under Announcement, Congress, Philanthropy Awards.

We are fortunate as a Chapter and as Professional Fundraisers, to work with outstanding volunteer leaders, philanthropists, organizations, corporations, and professionals. Each year, at our Philanthropy Awards presentations, we honour and celebrate the outstanding contributions of time, leadership and financial support made by organizations and individuals who have excelled in advancing the spirit of giving.

The 2017 AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Philanthropy Awards Luncheon will be held in conjunction with Congress on Wednesday, November 22, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto.

The AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Philanthropy Award categories are (click to download application forms):

Nominators: Must be AFP Greater Toronto Chapter members.
Nominees: Fundraising Professional category nominees must be AFP members. Nominees in other categories are not required to be AFP members. Self-nominations are welcome.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 29, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.  For more information, please contact Cynthia Quigley at / 416-941-9212.

Thank you for making this a priority and we look forward to honouring and celebrating our best with you – submit your nomination today!

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Uncategorized.

Your fundraising career: Should I specialize?

Nine years into my fundraising career I did it. I decided to specialize.

I had been working in a small shop for years doing most of the fundraising. When you work on a smaller team, you learn to do it all: running direct response programs, creating digital engagement campaigns, designing corporate philanthropy initiatives, writing grant applications, cultivating major donors, and even a little bit of graphic design.

When I started looking for another job, I applied to more generalist roles. But as I interviewed with various organizations, I began to think about what it was that I really wanted in my career.

Becoming a Specialist

Specialists are masters of their craft, with a deep understanding of their work. If you choose to specialize, you’ll have the opportunity to become very advanced in your specific area of fundraising, and by staying on top of your game, you can become a thought leader in your area.

Specialists can help fill gaps on fundraising teams. For example, one of the first specialist positions a smaller team might create is a major gifts officer who can dedicate her time to cultivating and stewarding donors would otherwise not be engaged. Because of this ability to fill gaps with their expertise, specialists can be in high demand and have a higher earning capacity.

Unfortunately for specialists, career options can be limiting. Fundraising specialists look for roles that not only align with their skills, but with the causes they are interested in. So, for example, a fundraiser who specializes in prospect research and has a passion for social services may not find a role that is a fit for them.

In addition, specialists can have a harder time transitioning into leadership roles where one is expected to have an overarching strategy that involves all fundraising strategies, as well as managerial skills.

Becoming a Generalist

Generalists are often thought of as jacks of all trades, but masters of none. Though this can seem like a drawback, what it means is that they tend to be big-picture, team-oriented thinkers. They can often see the interconnectedness of various fundraising (and organizational) activities, and are comfortable navigating the waters when the path is unclear.

Generalists thrive in smaller organizations where modest budgets call for someone whose fundraising experience is wide-ranging. If you choose to be a generalist, your broad fundraising knowledge base will allow you significant career flexibility. You’ll be able to jump from role to role quite easily. And generalists often get promoted into leadership roles, as director level positions often require a comprehensive view of fundraising in addition to managerial skills.

On the flip side, generalists can make mistakes when they’re making decisions without the expertise to back them up. And without expertise, generalists sometimes feel like their work involves a lot trial and error rather than relying on a deep understanding of best practice.

And while job stability is not guaranteed for anyone, generalists tend to be more replaceable than specialists simply because there are more of them.

So how do you decide?

For me, it took interviewing for other roles to realize that I wanted to become a more specialized fundraiser. The process prompted me to ask questions I hadn’t really thought about.

If you’re trying to make a decision on whether or not to specialize, consider these questions:

What stage of my career am I in?

If you’re early in your career as a fundraiser, you may want to avoid specializing until you’ve had a chance to try your hand at everything. Once you know what you like, and what you’re good at, you’ll be able to make this decision with more confidence.

Do I do my best work when I can focus on one aspect of fundraising?

If you are most productive and producing your best quality work when you have multiple projects on the go, then being a generalist might be the right fit. But if focusing produces the best results for you, specialization could be the route you should take.

Am I passionate about one particular kind of fundraising?

Do you LOVE meeting with donors? Or crafting the perfect direct mail ask? If there’s one type of fundraising that gets you more excited than the others, it’s worth exploring that path.

As a generalist or a specialist, will I be able to work for causes I am passionate about?

As I mentioned above, specialization can be limiting if you are passionate about causes that tend to have smaller fundraising shops. On the other hand, a generalist who is passionate about university fundraising may have a hard time competing with experts vying for a focused position at these larger shops.

Do I want to be in a leadership role?

If you’re looking to be a team leader, you’ll need to develop a broad range of skills. Not only will you need to understand all fundraising activities and have managerial skills, but you’ll need cross-functional skills across departments as well. And remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing whether to specialize or not. It’s all a matter of what you want out of your career.


Ashleigh Saith

Charity Savant

Ashleigh Saith is a fundraiser and nonprofit leader with years of experience working in small- and mid-sized nonprofits. She’s passionate about nonprofit marketing and leadership, and found herself with a shocking knack for finance. Ashleigh is currently the Manager of Annual Programs at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation. She was formerly the Director of Development and Partnerships at Interval House, and is a graduate of the Humber Fundraising Management Program. While out running, Ashleigh thinks about new ways that Charity Campus can help nonprofit staff and volunteers grow, learn, and connect with each other. In addition to the charitable sector, Ashleigh loves cats, Gene Kelly musicals, and all forms of soup.

Follow Ashleigh on Twitter @ashleighsaith and Charity Savant @CharitySavant 


Posted by & filed under Announcement.

Former AFP Inclusive Giving Fellow, Eugenia Duodu, is celebrated in HERstory in Black by CBC News. Eugenia Duodu is the Chief Executive Officer of Visions of Science Network for Learning – a charitable organization that aims to advance the educational achievements and career aspirations of youth from low-income and marginalized communities through meaningful engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and research.*

AFP congratulates Eugenia Duodu on this recognition!

Read full profile and watch the CBC video here

*Mission statement of VoSNL

Posted by & filed under Announcement.

(Toronto, Ontario)  Businessman, magazine publisher, patron of the arts and philanthropist Salah Bachir has been named the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The Volunteer Fundraiser Award recognizes an individual or family from around the world that demonstrates outstanding skills in coordinating and motivating groups of donors and volunteers for fundraising projects for the benefit of charities and nonprofit organizations. Bachir will receive his award at AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco on April 30.

Bachir is one of Canada’s most influential philanthropists and his impact is felt around the world. He is a champion of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community, helping to generate millions of dollars for such causes, including AIDS research and equal rights and support for LGBTQ individuals in Canada and the Middle East. He has personally given more than $1 million for The 519 Community Centre in Toronto, and raised millions more for campaigns to advance LGBTQ equality and inclusion in the city and beyond.

Bachir is affectionately known as “Gala Salah” for the number of fundraising galas he has supported and chaired. These events and capital campaigns have helped raise hundreds of millions for a multitude of causes in the arts, film and healthcare arenas. A passionate art collector, he has also donated art from his collection to galleries across Canada, and several of these galleries have created shows featuring selected works from his vast collection. One example is his support for the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has meant better public programs and world-class exhibitions for thousands of visitors, and he also gives his time to support emerging artists.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Government Relations.

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals opened our Caucus doors to Canadians. Through our Open Caucus initiative we are learning, discussing and debating issues of national importance.  This effort is hosted by the Senate Liberal Caucus but is intended to be non-partisan. All parliamentarians will be invited, as well as members of the press and the general public.

On February 8th, we invited you to join us in a discussion on the issues faced by the charitable, non-profit, and social enterprise sectors in Canada. Organizations that have community based goals provide valuable services ranging from research, to providing assistance for the disenfranchised, operating schools, running hospitals, and more. Despite the important contributions that charities provide to society charitable giving has hit a ten year low, illustrating that the charitable sector faces a number of challenges in achieving their mandates….


Originally published

Published on 8 February 2017
Open Caucus by Senator


Posted by & filed under Announcement.

Are you interested in positioning yourself as a thought leader in the fundraising community?

By writing a blog for AFP Greater Toronto Chapter you’ll have the opportunity to share your insights, knowledge and expertise with our members. AFP offers a great platform and chance to connect with fundraisers.

Tips on Writing a Blog Post:

  1. Make the post useful to the readers – offer tips, advice or insight into an area of your work.
  2. Offer a fresh angle – a point of view you don’t often read online or hear in conversation.
  3. Share a pride in the profession, even when challenging ideas – we are proud to represent fundraisers in Toronto, and we understand your work is complicated (your peers can relate).
  4. Offer practical information that will help readers understand a complicated issue or address similar challenges. This doesn’t need to be a bullet point list of tips, just information or advice that readers can apply to their own understanding.
  5. Provide original, personal, and honest work. This means your post has never before been published anywhere, including your own blog. You are free to post on your own blog within 72 hours of posting on the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter blog.

Your blog should be a minimum length of approximately 450 words, and a maximum of 650 words. All blogs will include your photo, bio and any social media handles (feel free to include your contact info too).  All submissions will be reviewed for approval – please note that promotional blogs cannot be accepted.

We are flexible and open to your ideas on what you would like to blog about.  Please email Jessica at to start the conversation.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Writing a proposal is like trying out for the Olympics. Research and planning take months, maybe even years; hundreds of competitors vie for the same grant dollars, and rewards are heart-shatteringly few. And, last, but certainly not least, your proposal might be the greatest, most eloquent piece of compelling prose you’ve ever written – that doesn’t get funded.

Tossing your organization’s hat into the grant arena is tough but sitting out the competition is out of the question. Not every proposal you write will be funded and it may take several tries before any dollars come your way. But if you keep trying you will eventually win, because winning grants is not based on luck. It is based on your approach. And, as the adage goes, the devil is in the detail.

Without further ado, below are three ways to write better proposals and increase the odds of winning your next grant.

  1. Read the funding announcement

I know, I know. You’ve read this tip before. But it’s as true then as it is now. Scour that funding announcement inside out. Note the terms the grantor uses and incorporate their language into your proposal. Very frequently the grantor will embed suggestions in the sections preceding the questions. Do not overlook these. They are NOT suggestions.

I recently worked on a proposal where, in the middle of the announcement, there was a sentence that mentioned the statement of need could include information on subpopulations. While the question itself did not ask to detail subpopulations, I knew that scoring well meant incorporating as much information as possible on subpopulations. Why? Because an approach should not be a one-size-fits-all solution. The grantor wants to know that YOU know your community.

  1. Complete a thorough needs assessment

Here is where details become critical. Needs assessments should be complex, lengthy and turn up several issues.  These issues will be the basis for your approach. No matter what grant you are going after the funder wants to know that your approach includes data-driven activities.

What do I mean by that? Say you are applying for a grant to build a homeless shelter for war veterans. Not only will you need to answer why a shelter needs to be built right now, but you will also have to address your population’s underlying causes of homelessness. Why is this population susceptible to homelessness? Are there any underlying behavioral and mental health issues? How will you address these issues while war veterans are in your care? More importantly, what solution does your assessment turn up for long-term success? No needs assessment is complete without knowing how clients discharged from your program will be reintegrated in the community. The funder will want to know how your organization will ensure clients live happy, healthy and productive lives long after they complete the program.

  1. Show don’t tell

Repeat after me: I will never use a “lack of” statement in my proposal ever again.

This one is simple. Winning proposals never use “lack of” statements. To illustrate the point compare the next two paragraphs.

  1. The majority of teens living in Sunshine Village spend their evenings watching TV because there is a lack of afterschool programming to keep them engaged in pro-social activities.
  2. There are three providers of afterschool programs in Sunshine Village that serve 1,000 teenagers per year. There are 3,000 teenagers in Sunshine Village, which means that 2,000 of them are left with unstructured time in the afternoon. Youth risk behavior surveys administered through Sunshine Village High School indicate that 75% of teens spend three hours or more per day watching TV because, as one teen noted, “there is nothing to do.”

Which proposal do you think is more likely to get funded? While these are very basic examples, the point is that you will make a more convincing case with accurate, detailed information about your community, its population, and its needs.

Writing proposals is a gargantuan task and requires thorough research. But with adequate planning (and about five hundred cups of coffee) you will be able to compose quality proposals with data-driven approaches. Good luck!

Melissa Manzone is Founder and Writer at The Grant Gal, which helps non-profits strategize and write proposals for federal grant competitions. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from The Ohio State University and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Kingston University London. In her free time, Melissa loves to read everything from biographies to historical fantasy and her favorite book will forever be Jane Eyre. She also is an aspiring author and is working on her first book about a warrior princess, which she hopes to publish next year. You can find her at and contact her at

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Fundraising, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Are you stuck in your fundraising?  Overwhelmed? Dissatisfied?  Need a reset?

Or maybe your organization is just starting to get serious about building a strong fundraising program and you’re wondering how to get going.

When I see fundraisers struggling with any of these situations, I always ask them to stop everything they are doing, take a deep breath and then focus completely on the donor relationship and making every single one of your donors into a LLL-Donor: Loyal, Loving and Long-term.

The path to success become clear and the steps are fewer than you’d imagine:

  1. Set your sights on finding donors that are as interested and passionate about your mission as you are (you are interested and passionate about your mission, right?!)
  1. Offer donors reasons to support your mission
  1. Share how donors are achieving the mission
  1. Repeat

When you make the shift to a LLL-Donor strategy, you no longer think: “I have to write a direct mail letter”.  Instead you’ll say: “I have to tell my donor about this horrible problem and the solution we have.”

A stewardship report is not a burdensome exercise in dragging information out of your programs people to regurgitate to donors. It’s now a labour of love to show donors how their generosity is making measurable improvements in our community, country and/or planet.

Even rubber-chicken silent auction events will be elevated above a formulaic dinner and silent auctions.  Instead, your gala will become a LLL-donor recruitment event, where you have the opportunity to emotionally engage 100, 300 or 1000 attendees with the life-changing work your charity performs.  Play your cards right and you will bring a good number of them into your donor-fold, motivated by true philanthropy.

Your fundraising calendar no longer looks like a spreadsheet related to your accountant’s work plan for your fiscal year. It’s now a plan to build loving relationships with new donors and sustain the fire for your cause with your long-term donors.

Sending notes, having conversations, making donors feel special and appreciated…sharing your deepest dreams and feelings and reminding them of how good it feels take on the world together.

Sound mushy and irrational?

That’s when you know you are on the right path.

David Kravinchuk is passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, New Democratic Party (MB), Community Living Toronto and international clients like Outward Bound New Zealand and University of Queensland. Follow David on Twitter @DavidKravinchuk and sign up for his regular dose of advice, RE:Phil.