Just what is a “case for support?”
You might think it’s just a brochure about your capital campaign. Or a slogan you print out and hang in your office.
You’d be wrong.
The Case for Support Isn’t What You Think It Is
The truth is, your case for support is one of the most important tools you need to develop to insure the success of your campaign. It’s also one of the first — 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.
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 a full-fledged campaign brochure. But the ideas might also be expressed in a video, or as a set of slides to share with your donors on an iPad.
The case will serve as the basis for your capital campaign’s foundation proposals and solicitation letters. And it’ll 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’s important. And so will everyone else!
Use the PROCESS of Creating Your Case to Build Agreement, Excitement
Coming up with a case that works is a process that will help you clarify your own thinking. And if 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. That’s NOT the right image. You’re probably going to go through draft after draft before you find the language to express the case for your campaign.
The process of creating your case is just about as important as the final result!
Create Your Case for Support in 10 Steps
Here’s how to create your case for support in a way that will get everyone involved in your capital campaign energized and eager to move forward.
1. Review your case’s purpose.
We’ve covered the things a solid case needs to include before, so if you’re unclear take a moment to review that post and keep the concepts there fresh in your mind.
2. Choose a writer.
Ideally, this is someone who knows your nonprofit well, writes well, and has enough self-confidence to respond well to suggestions and criticism.
3. Gather the necessary info.
This is the who, what, when, where and why of your case.
4. Decide how to proceed.
Decide your best strategy for recruiting people to work with the writer. Some nonprofits have the writer conduct interviews to gather information and better understand the campaign. Others skip the interviews in favor of group meetings.
5. Meet and discuss.
Conduct the initial committee meetings and/or interviews to assemble your team.
6. Write the first draft.
The first draft of your case doesn’t have to be a lengthy document. You’ll fine-tune it later as the specifics become clear.
7. Review with your ED.
Have your 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 an ad hoc committee; revise to reflect selected input.
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.
It Takes a Village to Create a Great Case for Support
Now 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 these prospects to take part, either by serving on the case committee or by agreeing to be interviewed. By making them part of the process from the get-go, you’ll encourage your prospects to 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.
**Photo credit: adam121 / 123RF Stock Photo