Donors have options. You don’t.

Your case for support must win hearts and minds

Third in a series about your case for support

What’s your cause? Hunger? Safety of women? Chronic disease? Child exploitation? Opera? Literacy?

How likely is it that your donors have other options for their gifts? Virtually 100%. How many donors are obligated to give you money? None. Zero. Zip.

Enter your Case for Support -- a clear, succinct and compelling explanation to donors as to how their money can have significant impact when channelled through your organization. When every donor in Canada has hundreds of relevant options, and most donors are not averse to making active choices, demonstrating value for the money is paramount.    

When donors engage your case – in whatever form it ultimately comes before them – they are opening themselves to intellectual and emotional chemistry, at your hand. They plunge into your unique mix of propositions, assertions, arguments, facts, proofs, evidence and inspiration.

The case is something you build, deliberately and strategically. What you hope for is that alchemic moment when the donor says “Eureka! I get it! I’m in!” –when “I’m in!” means they’re moving deeper into the support structure for your organization. How do you get there?

Match your organization to the motivations of donors

Get into the head and heart of the donor by thinking about your organization through the lens of their motivations. The reasons why people give to anything should guide us about what to emphasize.*

•           A compelling clear mission & vision

            (99% of the time it’s people helping people)

•           To make a difference - a strong hunger for outcomes

•           To do something special

•           To do something of lasting effect

•           Belief in the organization and its leadership

            (trust, competence, credibility)

•           Respect for the one who is asking

•           A sense of duty & responsibility

•           A desire to “give back” to the community or institution

Avoid the non-starters

So too, the “reasons” that we come up with naturally, but which just don’t have much effect and generally mark you as lame or lazy.

•           We mean well.

•           We try hard.

•           We’re good people (or dedicated, or . . .).

•           We have bills to pay.

•           You’ve always supported us.

•           This is important because we say so

•           Trust us: this is “worthy”

•           We have no one else.

The motives that drive donors are the portal by which you get to the head and heart, but you also need to prove you belong there. And you belong there if you do something demonstrably valuable with the donor’s money.

*From KMA interviews with hundreds of donors over an almost 20 year period.

- Larry Matthews

Next: What makes you so special?

P.S. Let me define the two types of documents we at KMA call the “case.”

The “organizational case” is the description and value proposition for the entire organization. It covers everything about your group. Typically it is not a public document and is not about design and production. Rather it is a source for marketing and proposals and is used to control your messaging. It can be useful for internal consensus building and orientation of staff and board members.   

The “case statement” is narrower, focused on one aspect of your work, describing one funding need or a specific campaign. Often executed for public consumption, it may require a high level of graphic design and production. An organization may be using several case statements at one time. Each should harmonize with the organizational case.

Not everyone agrees with these descriptions. Many hybrids exist. And although not everyone bothers with a full organizational case for support, to us they lose an opportunity to lay the best possible foundation for explaining who and what they are and why they matter. 

Next: What makes you so special?