Writing the case for supporting your campaign is hard work. Gail and I hear from many people in our coaching program just how hard it is.
It’s hard to find the quiet time to concentrate. It’s hard to know how to organize the case. And really, it’s even harder to make clear, simple sense of why people should give.
So we’ve developed a system to help you make it easy.
This post introduces you to a simple 6-part framework for developing your case. Just fill in the sections with simple, clear writing, and all of a sudden you’ll see the bones of a compelling case take shape!
Your 6-Part Case Framework
Think of it this way…
Your case for support doesn’t start out as a polished document. No one’s does. Your case should begin as a series of ideas organized in a logical and compelling way.
And while your organization’s campaign may be very different from any other organization’s, we’ve found that all truly compelling cases follow this simple 6-part framework.
1. Your Vision.
Write two or three sentences describing your vision.
What difference will the money you raise make in the world? (Notice, I didn’t say, what difference will it make for your organization.) The vision is not about your organization’s needs. Your vision is about the difference your newly capitalized organization will make in the lives of others.
2. Your Problem.
What’s keeping your organization from achieving your vision?
Describe what’s holding you back. This statement of the problem sets up the solution and your campaign.
3. Your Plan.
How will you overcome the problem so you can achieve your vision?
Spell out simply what you plan to do with the money you raise and why that’ll solve the problem.
4. Your Costs.
What’s your plan going to cost?
Summarize the elements of your campaign budget and add them up. The total cost will be your campaign’s working goal.
- 2nd floor Rent for 2-years: $85,000
- Cost of renovation: $110,000
- Computers and furnishings: $72,000
- Costs for expanded programing: $90,000 ($45,000 for each of two years.)
- Fundraising and administration: $55,000
5. Your “Why Now?”
Why is it important to solve the problem now? Every campaign needs a sense of urgency.
6. Your Call to Action.
What can a donor do to help solve the problem and achieve the vision?
How can they give and at what levels?
We will be pleased to review the naming opportunities for this project. All gifts of $1,000 or more will be listed on a plaque in our main exhibit space and gives of $2,500 or more may be designated to specific aspects of the project.
That’s it. Six elements that create a simple, logical and powerful flow.
In section 1, you hook people with your vision.
In sections 2, 3 and 4 you walk them through the problem, the plan and the cost.
In sections 5 and 6, you hook them again more deeply with why it matters now and how they can help.
Don’t Make The Mistakes Most People Make
Avoid falling into the following traps…
- Resist the temptation to begin case with a paragraph about their history. A common (and wrong) start is, “In 1965, the xyz organization was founded to do xyz.” Blah!
- Don’t focus your case on your organization’s needs. No one cares about them but you! What people care about is your organization’s ability to make a difference in the world…to help people live better lives! Be sure you focus on that!
- Don’t pretend to be a poet. The case framework should be written in simple, clear language with active verbs and short sentences. Once you have the framework right, you can hire a great writer to capture the magic.
Engage Your Donors in the Framework Discussions
Once you’ve written up a draft of the 6 elements of your case framework, you’re ready to ask for help.
Invite your board members and donors to a meeting to review and discuss the ideas you’ve spelled out. See if they flow. See if people find them reasonable and compelling. Find out how they might be made even more compelling.
Be sure to let people know that in this early framework document, you’re not after word-smithing. You need their help to make sure that the ideas are:
- emotionally persuasive
You might put together several small groups to discuss and test the framework as the ideas become stronger and clearer.
And when you’re ready — when the ideas really work — bring in a great writer to help you draft the final case for support.