Funding for What? How to Build a Clear Case for Support

All nonprofits need more money—but few explain their funding priorities effectively. Exactly how will philanthropic gifts advance your goals? Here are some concrete steps toward building a clear and compelling case for donor support:

Step One: Ask the right questions within your organization to gain clarity and alignment around mission, vision, and goals. 
Some questions to get you started: 
  • Why does our organization exist? What’s our point? 
  • What problem are we trying to solve? 
  • What would happen to the world around us if our organization did NOT exist? 
  • What’s our “special sauce?” How does our approach differ from other organizations in the same space? 
  • What does success look like for us in six months? In a year? In five years? 

Step Two: Create a messaging platform from which all content will flow.
Once you have articulated your organization’s vision, mission, goals, and specific funding needs, create an internal document that will serve as the guiding source for all future fundraising materials. 

The message box is one tool that's widely used as a messaging platform. Here's just one version of a message box that has been customized for case-building:

Step Three: Identify specific funding needs (e.g., a program or project) and describe each one in detail.
Donors need to understand exactly how their support will help your organization. Each funding need can be thought of as a hierarchy of information, like this:

Step Four: Commit to the four C’s of case-building.
  • Clear: Free of jargon, easy to understand, active voice.
  • Concise: Make the content only as long as it needs to be.
  • Concrete: Include statistics, specific goals, desired outcomes, etc.
  • Call to action: State exactly what do you want your audience to do next. (Donate online, attend a fundraising event, meet with your executive director, etc.) The call to action will be customized to each donor/prospective donor audience.

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