The first step in raising money is always answering the question “why do we need the money and how will we use it?”  Board and staff leadership must arrive at an answer to this question (usually through some strategy sessions) and then begin the process of building a “case for support” that persuades donors to become advocates for and funders of the cause.  Unfortunately, drafting a case for support often becomes an arduous task for fundraising staff, but it doesn’t have to difficult.  A “case” should really boil down to seven simple parts:

  • Give a brief history of your organization and explain the mission
  • Tell your audience who your organization serves.  Provide an example or two.
  • Outline the challenges that your organization faces.  Explain how these challenged compromise your mission.
  • Propose a solution for meeting the stated challenge (this usually involves a major fundraising effort).
  • Provide a project budget (If your solution includes a new facility, show the costs.  If your solution is a new program, show how it can be funded, etc…)
  • Include a “call to action” that asks donors to join your organization in meeting its challenges head on.
  • Provide some supporting materials in an appendix to your case (i.e. architectural renderings of new facilities, a Board list of your current leadership, the most recent annual report).

Generally, cases need to be clear, concise and compelling (think in terms of 3-4 pages, not a small book).  If you can use easy to understand graphics to demonstrate your points, even better.  Donors are busy people who want quick answers to questions they have.  Write your first draft of the case, share it with your Board to get their feedback, and then refine it to improve it.  Repeat these steps as many times as necessary until the majority of your Board likes the final outcome.  Then you’re ready to begin sharing it with prospective donors.