Making your case - and making your donors give

publication date: Jul 2, 2011
author/source: Fraser Green
I've just spent two very rewarding days drafting a case for support for a Canadian international development NGO. What made those two days so much fun for me? Here are a few reasons.Author photo

  • The client supplied us with a lot of great background information. Sorting through all the great stories and program descriptions to choose the ones to appear in the case statement made me feel like Stephen Tyler in American Idol, deciding which contestants would go on to the next round!
  • We had the opportunity to interview several people from the organization. Lo and behold, they all sang from the same songbook. The consistency of theme and message was incredible.
  • This organization was founded 50 years ago - and while it's evolved and become more sophisticated over the years, it's still true to the dream and vision of its founders.
  • There are tangible results of donor dollars at work everywhere. It's easy to show that donations have tremendous impact.
  • The CEO articulated a half dozen principles that guide the organization throughout. These principles make sense. They fit together seamlessly. And they're easy to express and understand!

Why this charity will win

I'm confident that this case for support will make the organization's ramped-up major gift efforts more successful. It expresses the heart and soul of an experienced and effective organization with a deep history and strong track record. It articulates lessons learned from the past - and how those lessons will make the organization even stronger in the future.

I've saved the best for last. This case statement answers the questions which are - to me at least - the most important in the donor's mind.

So here's this month's suggested assignment and tip.

Your assignment - there's a prize

Take advantage of the summer months to write (if you don't already have one) or revamp (if you do) your organization's case for support. Finish this assignment by Labour Day. Send it to me at before September 2, 2011. I'll select the one I think best follows this month's tip - and I'll give the winner my three favourite books of 2011 and an hour of free consulting.

The tip

When you write or revisit your own case statement, make sure you answer the most important questions in the donor's or prospect's mind. In my experience, those questions are

  1. Why were you founded? Why do you still exist?
  2. What do you believe? What do you stand for?
  3. What makes you unique? (In marketing terms, what's your unique sales proposition?)
  4. What have you achieved in the past? What will you achieve with my donation?
  5. What principles (three to six are best) guide everything you do?
  6. What motivates your people to be so committed to both the cause in general and the organization in particular?
  7. Which stories best demonstrate the answers to all the questions listed above?

So go ahead. Give yourself permission to sneak out of the office for a few afternoons in July or August. Find a laptop and a patio that serves iced coffee. Let your mind open up - and write a case for support that will get me truly excited about giving to you.

I promise you that this will be fun. And it will be time VERY well spent.

Fraser Green is Principal and Chief Strategist at Good Works, a consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage donors at a truly human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. Fraser welcomes your ideas, comments and criticisms about this tip. Please email him  with your reactions and thoughts.

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