Reframing Your Case for Support
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit sector have been immediate and far-reaching. Regardless of your organization’s mission and how successfully you’ve been able to pivot your programming, the current health and economic crisis is undoubtedly affecting your ability to fulfill your mission.
As the world begins to find its footing and we, both individually and collectively, achieve some semblance of normalcy, it’s time to turn your attention to the future. Now is the time for nonprofit leaders to envision how their organizations will support our communities, drive change, and thrive in a new societal and philanthropic landscape. As you plan, here are the actions you can take to reframe your case statement and create a vision for the future that will inspire donors to join with you and take action.
There’s plenty of doom and gloom to go around these days – unemployment rates are through the roof, many of our friends and neighbors are feeling isolated, and the myriad businesses and institutions that make our communities vibrant are shuttered. While it’s important to frame the societal challenges you’re working to address – especially if your organization is seeing an increased demand for services – try not to dwell on the problem. Donors want to invest in solutions. Quickly frame the challenges and then focus on your plan to address them. Where possible, provide clear, ambitious, and time-specific goals that create a sense of urgency, forward momentum, and hope for brighter days ahead.
Outline what you need to be successful
Once you’ve established your vision, outline specific and tangible ways donors can invest in that vision and be part of your success. How many more people could you serve with $500? How could you more effectively support your staff and/or shift your programming to a virtual environment with new technology investments? Detailing how specific investments in your organization will improve the lives of the people you serve and/or positively impact the issues on which you work allows donors to envision how their dollars will make a difference.
Be emotional and rational
Your case for support should include both quantitative and qualitative evidence of need and impact. Use numbers, facts, and statistics to outline the scale of the problem and your organization’s effectiveness in addressing it. Use stories, quotes, and anecdotes to bring those numbers to life. Behind every statistic is a name, face, and story. Use both to motivate and inspire donors. After reading your case, they should know something about the scale of the problem and be able to turn around tell a story to a friend about how your organization is making a difference.
To motivate donors in the current environment, your case for support should provide a clear vision for the future, compelling data and stories of the need and impact, and specific ways they can partner with you to make a difference. Especially now, when the problems seem so big and the needs are so great, your messaging has to be powerful enough to break through the crisis and propel donors to action. Give your donors a sense of hope. Invite them to be part of the solution. And illustrate how every dollar counts and can make an important difference.
If you could use some help updating your organization’s case for support, we are here to help. Please reach out to co-authors, Katy Moore and Derek Rogers directly with any questions or to learn more about how we can work together to reframe your case and motivate donors to invest in your organization’s mission, vision, and future success.