Developing and Communicating Your Case Starts with 5 Key Questions
As fundraisers, we hear time and again that making the case is a key ingredient to a campaign’s, and an organization’s, fundraising success. Even before the meetings, phone calls, and public campaigns, the case must be well-established inside your organization. To get there, your whole team must be aligned in your vision and mission. Many organizations confuse well-honed tactics with the deeper and more rigorous elements of strategic thinking; the latter requires both objectivity and a long-term perspective, two attributes often missing in action-based environments. Here, we outline the 5 key questions fundraisers should ask in defining the case for support.
5 Key Questions
Input from an organization’s leadership, senior fundraisers, and key volunteers and donors will form the underpinning of your fundraising strategy and communications. You can inspire these thoughts with questions such as:
- What is the organization and what do we do?
- Why do we exist and what makes us distinctive?
- What are the challenges facing the organization?
- What must be accomplished to meet these challenges?
- How will philanthropy/this campaign enable our goals to be accomplished?
Note: Your case is not just for your donors and prospects; in addition to driving the storytelling for external constituents, a well-conceived case statement informs and galvanizes your own team and your board as well.
Communicating Your Case
Before you hit the road, it’s essential that your fundraising team grasps the key components of the case and the positioning, for both your ongoing fundraising programs and capital campaigns. Whether through manuals, brochures, web content, group presentations, video, infographics, or other media, substance is more important than style. How do your people best tell your story, overcome objections, and convey the importance of the donor’s gift to support your goals?
Now you’re ready to take the case to your external constituents. You have many different touch points with your large donors, small donors, and prospects. This diverse communication enables deeply personal relationships with your most generous individuals, through visits, shared events, and phone calls. Simultaneously, you can create effective messaging to your other constituents via direct mail, email, your website, and social media. However, multiple channels of communications carry a risk, i.e. the inconsistent presentation of your case. Integrating messaging effectively across your in-person and marketing channels requires strong internal communications, a shared content library, and ideally a senior leader responsible for assuring adherence to the broader strategy.
Making It Easy for Your Donors and Prospects
The best case development, training, and communication can founder without strong execution. Create a great experience for your constituents: ensure your website, direct mail and email clearly present the key themes of your case, double-check your online donation form for ease of use, and confirm the logistics of your event planning and phone campaigns are nailed down. Are your “ask” amounts appropriate based on the donor’s history and profile, and your acknowledgement letters timely? Your revamped case can open up new doors – don’t jeopardize your chances by overlooking the details.
Key Takeaways for Your Organization
- Develop your case based on answers to the “5 key questions.”
- Train all members of the team on the primary elements of the case and how they translate into in-person and marketing messaging, for your ongoing programs and special projects
- Present the case to your external constituents using the inter-personal and marketing options that fit your audiences.
- Ensure your messaging and storytelling are consistent across all your channels.
- Train volunteer leaders and solicitors to recite your case consistently.
- Confirm that your service and operations support your lofty goals.