Making the Case
If you were to enroll in one of the fundraising classes I teach at a couple of local universities, you can be sure you will have to write a case statement for your nonprofit.
Explaining the case for support is one of the hardest assignments for my students and clients alike. Sometimes we get too bogged down in the "trees" that make up the day-to-day of our nonprofit to be able to step back and look critically at the "forest" — the bigger picture of how our mission plays out in real life.
A case for support is useful for making sure all your staff and volunteers (including board members) have the same understanding of what you do and they have some interesting tidbits stored in their memories that they can pull up when given the opportunity to "make a case" for your organization. It is also used for launching a capital campaign and can help with courting donors.
So here's your assignment: Read these tips, and then write a case statement for your nonprofit. You'll get much more out of this exercise than a grade. You'll have a clear explanation of what you do, how you do it and why you do it — without the day-to-day internal strife that can sometimes sap the joy out of our work.
Tip No. 1: Focus on what excites
My preferred form of exercise is swimming. I'm actually a bit passionate about it. If someone asks me why I enjoy swimming, I can explain that I have a clicker on my finger to help me keep track of my laps, I use a special MP3 player made for swimming so I am entertained, and I use shampoo specially formulated to remove chlorine.
All that's true, but none of it would make anyone very excited about taking up swimming. It's the same with your case for support. Focus on the exciting things you do and the good results of your work. The administrative details aren't all that motivational.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.