Fundraising is about relationships and your case for funding is the first building block.
Improving your fundraising includes a case for funding statement that is a clear, concise, and most importantly a compelling 1-2 page document that defines the reasons a donor would want to make a contribution or grant to your organization. It forms the basis for all your messaging and communications and works to communicate your theory of change and your value to the community.
This statement should pull together some of the following information and reflect the passion of the organization. The first thing to understand is the importance of telling a compelling story that contains the elements of success. It is important to frame your “ask/pitch/story/request” (your case) in such a way as to first build an emotional appeal and then present valid reasons why your audience would want to participate. The audience need is primary, your need is secondary. Here’s how to get organized and build a dynamite case for funding:
Your case always includes your guiding principles.
First make sure you are clearly defining what it is you do and why it is important. In writing your case for funding, don’t just repeat these statements, but wind their language into your narrative. Following are some hip tips for writing and refining your guiding principles:
- Vision for the Future– What do you plan to accomplish as the result of your mission and work? A Vision Statement defines what the organization wants to become. The vision should be shared by all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future and the future of its constituents.
- Mission Statement – Defines who are you, what you do, for whom and what cause? Mission/Purpose is a precise description of what an organization does. It should describe the business of the organization. It is a definition of “why” the organization exists currently. Each member of an organization should be able to verbally express this mission.
- Organizational Values – Value statements are grounded in principle and define how people want to behave with each other in the organization. They are statements about how the organization will value customers, suppliers, and the internal community. Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held by most individuals within the organization.
What’s in it for me?
A key principle in all communications is writing in terms of where your audience’s interests lie. Always remember that donors don’t just give you money, they are making an investment in your good work in an effort to improve something important to them.
- Statement of Community Need – This element identifies the problem or issues that exist, how it effects your constituents, and why it is important to the community. It may include the history and historical impact of the organization and how it has worked to alleviate the situation. A success story or simple case study may work to establish the relevance of the problem and the work that needs to be done for the community’s benefit.
- Funder Benefit – What are the benefits to specific funding constituencies, such as large donors, corporations, foundations. Answer the question, “What is in it for THEM?”
- Invite Reader Involvement – Avoid simply stating what you require, but work to engage donors in your program in an effort to create participation. This is where you frame how a funder can join your mission. Resources broken down by program, special projects, admin, equipment, capital & endowment (if appropriate) are often helpful in building your case.
Be sure to demonstrate your excellence.
Because donors are interested in results, they want to invest in a well-managed organization. Part of your job in creating your case for funding includes explaining how or why your theory of change is both effective and unique. How you employ best practices and your impacts and outcomes become important to your argument.
- Organization – Every organization is a sum of its parts. The role of the board, staff, sponsors, and volunteers is critical in defining your work and worth. Be sure to include key staff and board member backgrounds.
- Goals & SMART Objectives – As a result of your overall strategic plan or vision, what are the key goals and objectives that will work to achieve your vision? These should be set out with striking objectivity, with specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely details.
- Program – What projects, products and services do you provide? First a simple description of your product or service offering will give an overview of your work. But ensure that your description answers the following question: How does your program address the statement of need and achieve mission goals and objectives?
- Evaluation Strategies – Are critical to success. What outcomes do you measure, how do you determine your work is effective, and how does it relate to the consumer of your work and the community?
- Financial Background – Historical income, expenses, cash flow, audits and other $$$ information is important to include either as part of the statement or as an addendum.
Follow these guidelines and you will see your donor engagement and funding rise. Give us a call if you would like a free fundraising evaluation.