I remember coming across the Major Gifts Ramp-Up™ Model (and its crazy-like-a-fox architect) several years back. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jimmy LaRose and I had been tackling the same goals for nonprofit fundraising clients for many decades between us. Only the language was different. Jimmy and I challenged each other quite heavily around one of his MGRU training events over an alternate philosophy to effective fundraising.
“DONORS ARE YOUR NONPROFIT'S CUSTOMERS!” I can feel you cringing through the screen. But it’s true!
For years, the nonprofit sector has slipped into a misguided mindset prioritizing mission and community service first. Of course, in theory, that seems the most humanitarian approach. Its messaging “sticks to the ribs” like comfort food – envisioning a world where serving the less privileged costs only a smile and a handshake. But that philosophy overlooks the vital money-making capacities that allow charitable missions to exist at all.
This article explores the Major Gifts Ramp-Up™ Model and more specifically its backbone: the Case for Support. Here we stress the importance of placing your primary focus on donors. After all, “MONEY IS OXYGEN” to nonprofits. Appealing to donors, grant funders and WEALTHY benefactors is the only true way to build, support and sustain community missions of scale.
What is the Case for Support in Nonprofit Fundraising?
Well, you can read. It’s making a case … for support. It’s a well-rounded, broadly encompassing message that captures the essence of your organization, its impact, and how that impact could be more profound with the financial “oxygen” to get there. A blanket proposal, if you will.
So many nonprofit executives, fund developers and grant writers start from scratch with each new ask. Especially at small nonprofits with limited resources, staff and knowhow. Sure, they may copy-and-paste organizational boilerplate info and program elements. But the sheer time it takes to do it all – again and again – shifts the focus from your nonprofit mission indefinitely. (And keeps you in the office 70 hours a week.)
Case for Support: A Breakdown
A case for support – aka case statement – is a nonprofit fundraising communications tool used to persuade people to donate. It’s a game plan for achieving your bold community mission and vision. As long as we’re viewing nonprofit management for what it truly is – an enterprise business like any other, but with the perk of special tax treatment – consider this exercise like preparing for a meeting with a bank or investor.
Because what is nonprofit support if not impact investment? No reputable bank or investor would contribute to a vision without explicit details regarding the who, what, why, when, and how behind it.
Any right-minded funder wants to see:
- Organizational history & capacity
- Mission & values statements
- Program descriptions
- Current financial statements & future projections
- Stories, outcomes, & statistics proving community need & demonstrated impact
Some may need to see more. Very few require less.
Cases for support invite people to support your vision via a financial gift in alignment with their philanthropic priorities. They provide the thirty-thousand-foot view of your organizational development initiative. They describe your “what is” and illustrate how you will achieve your “to be.”
Case statements are inspirational. People feel good about giving when they’re exposed to a truly compelling case for support. In fact, they get excited! Which segues nicely into the next point.
Tapping Into Donor Motivations & Human Emotions
Well-crafted cases for support are emotional. Make your donor prospects FEEL. Here’s your chance to be a professional, journalistic storyteller. Use words with strong meanings – “muscular language.” Employ active verbs. Tell personal stories. Apply the present and future tenses. Be optimistic and forward-looking. Exploit the word “you.” Get excited and let your passion show.
Write in a familiar voice. Case statements are written from the donor’s point of view. They are donor-centric. Remember the donor cares about making a positive impact in a cause close to their heart. They care about meeting more mission.
Their base motivations for giving are not because of any program you run or need for money you have. Donors give because they can affect issues they find important. Because they can make a positive impact in the world. Because they can leave a legacy. Because they can be part of something bigger than themselves. Write from that perspective.
For best results, let prospects experience your mission in action before presenting them with a written document or making an ask. Engage them in your work. Let them feel the good that you do. Then approach them for a financial gift.
A Case For Support Informs ALL Organizational Messaging
Case statements can be leveraged. In addition to fundraising campaigns, they can also guide your agency’s marketing campaigns and communications materials. You want to maintain consistency between what you tell your existing donors and what you tell your prospective donors. That is, people who visit your website, engage in your social media, and read your agency brochures.
Case statements help recruit and retain motivated board members, staff, and volunteers. They tap into people’s passion, inviting those who share its values and vision to participate in making the dream become a reality.
Isn’t All This Just Marketing?
Well, yes and no. In essence, all communications these days fall under the umbrella of marketing and public relations. Only the target audiences and goals differ. So why do you even need a case for support if you have already developed consistent messaging and a unique marketing position statement? To save the most time and money and realize the greatest ROI, make the investment in creating all three.
Focus outwardly on the impact your nonprofit makes in the community rather than the nonprofit itself. All three must be donor centric to be effective. Your case for support is one of the consistent messages your organization proclaims – your fundraising message.
Wrapping It Up
You’re trying to change the world for the better. You need money to do it. With money, you can hire the staff you need, pay competitive wages, expand your nonprofit’s outreach, increase your agency’s visibility, attract more donors to your cause, stabilize your finances, and attain sustainability. Imagine the impact you could make.
The Major Gifts Ramp-Up™ Donor Cultivation Model and MGRU Online Resource Cloud are used by charities around the world to meet the needs of their primary customers — the advocates, donors, and volunteers who financially underwrite their missions. This model has raised MILLIONS for nonprofits around the world!
If you’d like a private consultation for your specific nonprofit fundraising needs, there’s no shame in asking for help. I’m always available here.0