Preparing a case for support

One of your key tools in fundraising is the case for support. The purpose of a case for support is to communicate an organisation’s work to motivate a funder to support the cause. By writing a central case for support, the organisation then has a document that can makes the case for ongoing funding, and can be adapted for direct mail appeals, grant applications, donor meetings and other fundraising materials.

The key ingredients of a strong case for support are;

  • An organisational summary
    This should explain who you are, what you exist to do and your track record of achievement.
  • Background and need
    This section covers the justification for the project. You need to answer the following key questions - why has the need for this work arisen? How do you know about this need – where is the proof or science to back it up? Why is it important to meet this need? What would happen if you don’t?  What is the scale of the problem?
  • An over-arching strategic goal
    The over-arching goal should be strategic and directly relate to your organisation’s mission. It does not need to be immediately achievable but the activities of this project should result in progress towards this goal.
  • An achievable aim
    The aim of your activity should be set out concisely and address exactly what this project will achieve. It is the specific reason you are undertaking the work. Think of it from the funder’s point of view. “If I invest in this work, what difference will I see for my money?”
  • Objectives and activities
    This section covers the specific what, when and how of your work. Your objectives should be SMART – i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound. Include a detailed plan of action that clearly relates to achieving your objectives and aim.
  • Impact – the outcomes and outputs
    The outputs are the quantifiable activities that your work has carried out in order to meet its objectives. The outcomes are the effects of this work and the difference or change it has made to your beneficiaries. For example, to reduce youth unemployment in an area, you might deliver a series of training workshops for young people (your outputs) which improve their communication and interview skills and increase their confidence in applying for work (your outcomes).

Both of these will be measured through your monitoring and evaluation techniques, below.

  • Monitoring and evaluation
    Here you must outline your plan to demonstrate whether or not your activities have met their aims and objectives at review points during the work, and at the end of a project’s completion. What and how will you measure and how will you report on this? Who will carry out the evaluation and what are their credentials?
  • A budget
    You should produce both a summary description and a full, more detailed budget. The summary should outline the total cost of the work, how much you have raised, and how much you now need to raise.

When you have completed your case for support, check it through to see if it makes logical sense. Does your budget accurately reflect the activities detailed in your narrative? Do activities clearly lead to achievement of the objectives? Do the objectives fulfil the aim and work towards the goal? Does this meet the need? If the answer to all of those questions is yes, you have a strong case for support.

Once you have all the key ingredients for your case for support, you can make it more compelling and appealing to prospective donors by adding emotion and urgency. The text should tell the story of your organisation and follow a persuasive narrative, avoiding jargon.

Can you include a case study? - A personal story that clearly demonstrates the difference your work has made to the lives of one or more of your beneficiaries.  If you do not already have one, consider working with a beneficiary who is willing to allow you to summarise their story and use it in your fundraising materials.  The case for support can be further strengthened by using quotes of endorsement from beneficiaries, volunteers, or high profile individuals within your community/country that incapsulate why they believe your work is so important and necessary.

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