7 reasons why every organization needs a case for support

A case for support, also known as a donor prospectus, is a well-designed document that explains to prospective partners (or donors) why they should fund your organization. Cases for support can focus on very specific goals (such as a fundraising goal, or a capital campaign to fund a new project), or invite unrestricted funds to your organization to be used in general.

Why your organization need a case for support

1. Tell the world why you exist
Your case does one thing above all else: it communicates your raison d’etre, the “why” at the core of your organization. Partners want to know the intimate details about you so that they can assess whether you will be a good fit for their investment of resources, time, and/or energy as the case may be. What could be more intimate than detailing the core reason of your existence? Your case for support should offer the simplest version of your why to your audience and allow them to understand your purpose.

2. Show the team behind the work
Organizations are made up of people. You are not just a logo, website, or phone number at your organization – you are a team. Your partners will want to know who they are working with and who they might need to interact with if things go down the path of success. Showing who will be doing the work goes a long way to building the trust and confidence needed to land a partnership.

3. Advocate your advantages
Every organization exists within a landscape – what sets you apart from the rest? What gives your organization the advantage in solving your problems and achieving your goals? If you can detail these advantages, you provide a strong case for investment of resources and time from your partner.

4. Showcasing your work and impact
Not only does showing your work help your prospective partners understand you, it helps you understand your own organization. By showing the specific pieces of how you have worked collaboratively, evaluated your impact, and benefited the community, you will attract others to want to work with you.

5. Celebrating your legacy
It’s good to recognize where you’ve come from and what you’ve done – it’s better to celebrate it. Speaking proudly about your work and history is vital to inspiring new partnerships. Go deep and involve past staff, board, and donors, maybe some of them will re-engage with you as donors and help build your case for support!

6. Showcasing your model and how you work
Every organization works in a different way. Are you a foundation with an endowment? Are you a CSR department with a set departmental budget? Are you a nonprofit with an events-based fundraising model? Show how you operate, where your money comes from, and how you use it to make the world a better place, by doing so you will pull back the curtain and give confidence to your potential partners.

7. Creating a common narrative for your team
The biggest piece of a case of support that goes unappreciated is its utility as a communications tool for your biggest advocates, your board and staff. By bringing the team together to build and refine the case, you are helping everyone to practice the language of your organization and communicate that language to the world. A common narrative stemming from a well crafted plan are the fundamental aspects of prospect engagement.

Key elements of a case for support

  • Story and background
    In this section, detail the history of your organization. Paint a picture, starting at the beginning during the startup phases of work. Who was there? Then lead your audience down the timeline of your journey, sharing the details that describe your greatest challenges and accomplishments, and what has led you to this moment.
  • Mission / vision and value statements
    You should have a clear statement of purpose which defines the problem that you are solving (the reason for your existence). Your statement needs to include your core beliefs and values, and needs to detail what fuels your passion for the work that you do and how you do it.
  • Goals and objectives
    This section follows the mission statement because it details what you do to achieve your purpose. Goals are the building blocks that your objectives, and then services and programs, live within; therefore, they can be high level and ambitious. Your objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) in nature and come from your goals, detailing what you will achieve, and when it will be done by.
  • Governance
    The structure of your organization, including your constitution and by-laws, are important for potential partners to review. This will give them a sense of who you are. You’ll want to include things like your organization’s “org chart”, board history, founding documents and amendments, and other relevant information that shows how you operate.
  • Team
    Biographies of all team members (staff, board, consultants, and committee members) will highlight the “who” behind your organization and what they bring to the table in terms of skills and experience.
  • Budget
    The numbers matter and are one of the most important elements of any partnership. You need to show the financial viability of the organization and project, including financial projections and costs, and who else is funding it.
  • Services / Programs
    When you outline the services or programs you offer, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the ways that you work to deliver your solutions to the problem that you are solving. Provide context to each program and service including its unique history and goals/objectives, and a SWOT analysis (analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).
  • Evaluation and planning documents
    This is where you can back up what you are saying with evidence. Have a fundraising objective? Show your plan. Have an impact objective? Show what you are currently achieving with objective data. Include strategic/business plans, theories of change, and case statements here.

Other elements you might consider adding to your case:

  • Competitive analysis
    You might consider including an assessment of your market, including who else provides similar services and how their model is different from your own.
  • Intellectual property
    Do you own any intellectual property or have unique assets that are worth detailing? Provide information on them as these can help you to stand out from an investment perspective.
  • Business model canvas
    Including a business model canvas will help to simplify what you do and how for investors. This one-page sheet is a healthy exercise to go through as an organization to clarify exactly how each part of your organization supports the other functions.

How to keep your case for support fresh

  • Have a data room (A space – usually virtual – used for housing data, usually of a secure or privileged nature. It’s Used for a variety of purposes, including data storage, document exchange, file sharing, financial transactions, legal transactions, and more).
  • Regular review and updates
  • Feedback from prospects and stakeholders

How to use your case for support

  • Website
  • Internal alignment
  • Proposals Pitch deck / presentations
  • Marketing materials
  • Reports
  • Applications

Tools to support your case

  • Case statements
  • Theory of change
  • Strategic plan or business plan

A note on why funders should have a case for support

It may seem obvious to why a fund-seeking organization would need a case. A funder on the other hand is in a position of responsibility, where they are usually the one to make a decision on who to fund, so why do they need to “sell”?

The answer is two-fold.

First, it’s good for your brand and organization to reap the benefits of a well defined strategy that is advocated by all stakeholders.

Secondly, it will make you a better partner not only to those you fund, but to reporting bodies, and the public at-large.

Your case will look slightly different than a fundseeker’s. Your case should articulate why you fund what you do, your unique story, and how you work in a way that is easy to understand. It is an opportunity to highlight the philanthropy you advance and have them singing from the same song sheet as those at the core of your organization.

Having a case for support will move your organization toward trust-based philanthropy by bringing more transparency forward. This can result in much better partnerships (aka. a better return on your investment and more positive impact for the world).

How to get started on your case for support

If you’re not sure where to start or need extra support, consider hiring a fundraising consultant or contact Orgmatch to learn about how our consulting team can help.

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