When you hear the phrase “case for support,” do you immediately think about a brochure?
If so, this post will open and unlock your thinking. Because a case for support isn’t a brochure, though it may look like one sometimes. No! A case for support is a set of ideas organized in a compelling, logical way that will move a donor to contribute to your project.
Case for Support: Your Most Important Campaign Tool
Your case for support is one of the most important tools you need to ensure the success of your campaign. It’s also one of the first things you’ll work on when you start planning your campaign.
You’ll start working on the case as soon as you’re clear about what you want to raise money for and what the project will cost.
To put it very simply, this tool — your case for support — is a compelling set of ideas expressed in ways that’ll move people to give to your capital campaign.
Now read that again and think about it carefully…
A compelling set of ideas … expressed in ways … that move people to give to your capital campaign.
Your Case Can Take Many Forms
Because it’s a set of ideas, your case can take many forms. And it will!
Your case will start out as a simple text document and evolve over time into many formats. The ideas might be expressed in solicitations when talking to donors, or in a donor discussion guide or a video or slide deck. And yes, it will eventually be captured in a campaign brochure.
The case will serve as the basis for your capital campaign’s foundation proposals and solicitation letters. And it will provide the core ideas in presentations about your campaign.
Coming up with a set of ideas upon which everyone agrees is super important. And once you’ve done that, you’ll really understand what your campaign is about and why it matters. And so will everyone who has helped develop the case!
The PROCESS of Creating Your Case Will Build Agreement and Generate Excitement
Coming up with a case that works is a process that will help you clarify your own thinking. And when you ask other people to review drafts and help hone the ideas with you, it’ll help them get clear too.
In fact, the process of developing the case builds agreement and excitement among your key stakeholders.
So let go of the idea that you’re going to sit down at your desk one afternoon and crank out the perfect case for support. You’re going to go through draft after draft before you find the language to express the ideas that are the case for your campaign.
Whether you are working on a case for a $10 million campaign or a $100,000 Mini-Campaign, the process of developing the case is the same.
10 Steps to Create Your Capital Campaign’s Case for Support
Here’s how to create your case for support in a way that will get everyone involved in your campaign energized and eager to move forward.
1. Review your case’s purpose.
Every solid case needs to address six elements:
- your vision
- your plan
- the problem your campaign will solve
- the costs
- why now?
- the call to action
Take a moment to review this post so the concepts there fresh in your mind.
2. Choose a writer.
If you write reasonably well and easily, then the first step is yours. But if not, ask for help. Ideally, find someone who knows your nonprofit well, writes well, and will work closely with you.
3. Gather the necessary info.
Answer some basic questions:
- What are you raising money for?
- How much will it cost?
- What impact will it have on the people you serve?
4. Recruit people to work on the case.
Make a list of approximately 15 people you can ask for help with the case. Involve people close to the organization and perhaps a few donors who aren’t yet tightly connected.
5. Meet and discuss.
Select 3 to 5 of the people on your list to serve on an ad hoc case task force. Conduct the initial committee meeting to present the project and discuss the core ideas of the case for support.
6. Write the first draft.
Draft the initial case for support. Make it as brief and compelling as possible. The first draft of your case shouldn’t be a lengthy document. You’ll fine-tune it later as the specifics become clear.
7. Review with your ED and board chair.
Have your ad hoc committee, executive director, board chair and campaign chair (if you’ve already selected one) review the draft case; revise as needed.
8. Seek feedback.
Invite input from the other key people on your list (see number 4 above). Revise to reflect selected input. Date every draft and make sure the word DRAFT appears on every version.
9. Review with your board.
Review the case with, and get input from, your nonprofit’s entire board; revise as needed.
10. Distribute the case.
Distribute the new version to everyone who helped develop it. You can and will continue to get feedback. You’ll know when the ideas that capture the case for support are the right ones. It may take you 5 or 10 or even 20 versions to get them right. But once they are, your story will be clear and compelling and embraced by your organization.
It Takes a Village to Create a Great Case for Support
Remember, involving other people in reviewing and commenting and discussing various drafts is a critical part of the process. Here are the three most important things to keep in mind as you decide who to recruit:
- The case is a working document, particularly at this early stage! You may even find yourself re-thinking your whole project as a result of your efforts on the case. At the very least, the case will go through several revisions before you have a final copy.
- The case process is a great way to energize your prospective lead donors. Be sure to ask those prospects to take part, either by serving on the case committee or by agreeing to review and share their thoughts about the case. By making them part of the process from the get-go, your prospects will feel a sense of ownership and a desire to make your campaign a success.
- Working on the case is also a good way to get your nonprofit’s key leaders on the same page. Get your board and senior staff involved and by the time your case is ready to go, everyone will have a solid grasp of what your project and capital campaign are about.
Your case for support is the first piece of a much larger communications plan for your campaign. And it’s the piece for which you can and should take time to clarify and explore the ideas that make the compelling argument for your campaign.
Once you’ve got your ideas in place, you’ll be ready to create everything else. This post on campaign communications will give you a broader overview of what you’ll need.