How can you make your nonprofit’s case for support powerful, provocative and successful? In this webinar, Robin L. Cabral, MA, CFRE will highlight best practices in preparing and using your case for support.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Robin, is it okay if I go ahead and start us off officially here.

Robin: You got it, go right ahead.

Steven: All right, cool. Well, good afternoon everyone, if you’re on the East Coast and good morning if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, Developing Your Case for Support – The Foundation for Your Fundraising Success. My name is Steven Shattuck and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple housekeeping items before we begin officially, I want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sending out that recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So don’t worry if you have to leave early or perhaps if you want to watch the presentation again or review the content or even share with a friend. I would definitely appreciate that. Just look for an e-mail from me later on this afternoon.

As you’re listening today feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen, I know a lot of you already have but we’re going to try and save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy, send in your questions and comments and we’ll try to get to just as many of those as we can before the two o’clock Eastern hour. You can also use Twitter to do the same thing, I’ll be keeping an eye on the Twitter feed there, and then one last bit of housekeeping these webinar usually are only as good as your own webinar or connection unfortunately.

So if you have any trouble, we find that the audio by phone in particular is usually better than the web audio since it doesn’t rely on internet connections or software or any of that good stuff. So don’t give up on us if you can’t hear or the audio is a little choppy, if you can dial in by phone and you don’t mind doing that please do it. There is a phone number you can use in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour ago, so don’t give up on us.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say a special welcome to you. We do these webinars just about every Thursday, we bring on a great guest like Robin for a totally educational presentation, we have a lot of fun doing it but in addition to that our main business here Bloomerang is donor management software. So if you are in the market for that or might be coming up soon here in the new year perhaps or you’re just curious about Bloomerang, check us out you can visit our website, or you can even download a short video demo and see the software in action. Don’t even have to talk to a sales person to do that, if you don’t want to.

So check us out, later on definitely wait until the presentation ends to do that but we’d love for you to learn more. But for now I am really excited to introduce one of my new friends, she’s actually dialing in from my hometown in Massachusetts, so I’m really excited to hear her accent for sure in addition to her expertise. Robin Cabral is our guest. Hey Robin, how is the going?

Robin: Hey great. It’s going great.

Steven: It’s awesome to have you. I just want to brag on you real quick before I turn it over. I won’t take up too much your time but if you guys don’t know Robin, definitely someone you should follow. Look for her name on conference agendas and things like that. She got over 20 years’ experience doing the things she’s going to talk about today and she’s raised millions of dollars for her clients and for the organization she’s been associated with. She is the founder of Development Consulting Solutions which she founded back in 2012, which is some really cool work. She’ll tell you a little bit more about it later on.

She’s an active member of AFP. She’s also an active member with the National Catholic Development Conference. She’s been on their planning committees and their development committees. Her home chapter of AFP in Rhode Island, she’s on the board of. She’s also an AFP Master of Faculty Trainer and she has served on the AFP International Education and Training committee. I don’t know how you do all this, Robin, in addition to your day to day work but definitely an impressive resume and you guys are going to love her advice. She’s a good one. So Robin, I am going to pipe down and let you take it over. So take it away my friend.

Robin: Great, thank you very much. I want to welcome everyone to this presentation, “How to Craft a Winning . . . ” oops sorry about that. “How to Craft a Winning Case for Support” and we’re going to really talk dive into what a case of support is and the components of it. In all of my work both as a professional and as a consultant, quite simply the case for support, while often over time overlooked is probably one of the most important documents that you will ever write for your entire fundraising program. It really is that cornerstone of everything that you do within your fund development program. Oftentimes I’ll go into an organization and I’ll say, “Where is your case for support?” when I do an audit, and that’s the one thing they don’t have and so their messaging is somewhat off.

So here’s what we’re going to cover in our about 45 minutes to 50 minutes together today. We’re going to look at some of the key terms and concepts central to the work of what I consider case development, and then I’m going to share with you what I believe the differences are between an external and internal case, and then I’m going to kind of define what those components are, and then I’m going to share with you some ideas on how to actually put the case to work. And then I’m going to share with you something that Tom Ahern talked about a long time ago that I just loved, was called a marketing brief and I’m going to share with you kind of what that is and how I have actually used that in my professional work in the past.

So do you need a case for support? Absolutely. You need it for everything that you do within your fundraising office. So let me start out by defining some key terms. We all know what a cause is. Everyone on this call should have or is part of some shape or form of cause. So a cause is basically kind of that it’s what you’re here, what you’re working to meet within your community, it’s what you serve with your mission and your dedication. Some examples of causes are eliminating hunger or homelessness, veterans, transitional housing, those kinds of things. So if you want to share with me in the chat box what some of your causes are, I can just share those with the group. But this is pretty basic. So we all have one. We all represent a cause.

Now what is a case for support? I’m going through the definition. A case of support is basically, what it is, why you need contributed income, that’s the best way that I can boil what a case for support is. It’s the messaging behind your philanthropic component or your philanthropic need and certainly it’s really bigger than the organization and it relates to the cause. Now we’re going to look at an internal and an external case.

For me, the internal case really becomes the encyclopedic accumulation of information. You’re going to have everything in your internal case about your organization that you will ever need to reference for your fundraising program and it certainly answers the most compelling questions around who are you? Why do you exist? What makes you unique and why do you need contributed income? And why do you need it now? Where is the urgency and the emotional component or factor to your case for support?

And so let me just share with you some folks out there, we have some folks representing some health care organizations, homelessness, senior care as the cause, strengthening the foundation of a community, horse programs for all ages, programs that serve individuals with disabilities. Historic preservation. Great mix of different kinds of representatives of causes.

People say what is a case for support and then what is this thing, Robin, that you talk about that’s called a case statement? Well, a case statement is basically, if you have different programs, let’s say your senior program. I’m going to take Robert’s example here, senior care. So your organization may provide assisted living, a not-for-profit assisted living facility, it may provide skilled nursing, you may have independent housing units. So each of those things may or may not have case statements. A woman’s center might have a domestic violence program or a sexual assault program or a child trauma program.

So each of those would have individualized case statements. So they are specifically developed for various programs and constituencies and they present really the argument to support that particular program and its needs and what the program is serving. So it’s really part of that overall case. You have to look at the case for support as the overarching document and then within that case for support there’s a separate case statements representing your different programmatic service areas. So they’re very, very focused.

I’m just continuing with these kind of definitions but I’m going to move on to what is the case expression? There’s all these confusing terms around case for support. So a case expression is basically how you then take your case for support and express it to your donors, to your general community. It may be some examples of case expressions may be your brochure or your website, so that’s basically is how the case is expressed for general consumption.

And then internal and external cases, so I’m really diving deep because people will say, why don’t you just have a case for support. And for me I often start off with when I was working professionally and with my current clients I put together an internal case for support that is not for public consumption.

The internal case for support is really what I call that encyclopedic compendium or it’s that Encyclopedia Britannica of your organization. It compiles everything about who you are and what you do and I’m going to go over what those components are specifically. And then I have what I produce from that what is called the external case and that’s basically again the case expression. But I may produce a summary document of the internal case that can go to donors that can go to the board and basically is more of an external document.

I hope I’m not confusing people here. I just want to make sure that you understand all of the kind of vocabulary around cases for support. So if you have any questions about kind of all the definitions I just shared with you, feel free to type them into the questions box because I am monitoring that. And so, I look at this and we oftentimes talk about the fundraising cycle and I forgot where I . . . probably this is from the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University or somewhere like that, but it’s really very old graphic that I have in my files and basically it shows the whole fundraising cycle in great depth. So you can see where I am suggesting and this does not have the actual case creation. It has examined the case but it doesn’t have kind of . . . there may be awareness of marketing principles up here is where the case for support would fit in.

But it really is that integral component of the whole cycle and the interesting thing about this is that it is a circle that kind of continues because fundraising is that kind of process. And the case for support I often say is a very living, breathing, dynamic document that should be revisited at least yearly to ensure that everything found within the case is still accurate. I have a current client now that I’m working with in Vermont, who working on a capital campaign, and we created their case for support last August and things have changed. You know, we just had a conversation yesterday about the need for really updating their case for support. So make note that this is something that you really need to do on a regular basis, just look at your case for support and update it.

For me, oftentimes the organizations that I come to, they don’t start with the first step of defining or outlining or writing their case for support. That’s the one thing that all of my development audits I find, “Do you have a case of support?” “No, we have grant proposals,” well, that’s not a case for support. So while I say it is the first step in the planning process is most often overlooked step and one that I suggest straight off that an organization tackles before it does anything else because really when we think about it, everything is anchored around, how strong that compelling message is within your case for support. So, how well your appeal letters are, your direct mail appeal letters, how well your online fundraising is doing is anchored to the messaging that you have crafted within there.

So it really is the bedrock of your program and people say, “Well, I just don’t have the time to write that case of support.” You really need to take the time and/or hire someone who can help you flesh out that case of support. I look at this now, I found this somewhere, that one point case, right? So this is an easy way of remembering what the case stands for basically C, cause at hand, A, action addressing the cause, kind of your programs and how you live out that kind of cause, and that S, is your statement of goals oftentimes strategic goals or so forth and then E, is the expected results particularly when donors invest in you, what are they going to get as a return to that?

So that’s a great way of remembering the case for support. So before we actually get into what the components of a case for support are the big question is because I know there’s so many of you on the call right now, I’ve been in your shoes as a small office development staff person and you go okay, now this sounds like a mammoth undertaking. Who is going to do this? Who’s going write this? And really it is up to either the development person who is in place and if there’s not a development person, then certainly the executive director should take this on.

Now, I often when I’ve written cases but we have to be very careful because we don’t want to get too much involvement into rewrites and developing a case by committee. I’ve ended up there many times in my career and that’s not a good place to be particularly was such a large important document. It can be mammoth. So you certainly want to engage others in getting their ideas. You might want to bring some select board members in to test the case with them or to interview them as part of the case. Some volunteers, some donors, and some prospects and we’ll talk more about how do we share the case with some of these folks later on.

But certainly one of the things that I like to do is to really ask what are the pressing pain point questions that your organization has around messaging. You know, here’s a great example. I have a new client and the client is an organization started by an NFL player. And so people are saying well, why do we have to give to this organization? Doesn’t he make millions?
So you know those are the kinds of questions and challenges that you’re going to need to think of in advance to be able to answer them to strengthen your case for support, not that you can’t answer them but you want to think of them in advance so that they are answered within that document. And certainly donors validate the case and I’m going to share with you how I recommend that and that you have certainly the right people who are reviewing that, so that they can provide insights.

But ultimately the person or the people who should write these are the development person or persons and/or the executive director. And again, you need to spend that focused time on this particular document. So now you’re wondering what are these components of a case for support. What goes into? And when I say case for support here, I’m talking particularly around the internal case for support, that encyclopedia of everything that is about your organization. And so these are the exact same components that I go through, that I use when I’m producing a case for support for a client.

So basically what you’re compiling is everything that a donor would ever want to know about your organization, everything from governance, to volunteerism, to staffing anything that you may find on a grant application would be answered in your internal case for support. And basically I call it that database or information bank. Maybe it’s the Google of your organization because we don’t use encyclopedias anymore. I’m kind of dating myself because you know we’re all online now and again you need to keep it current. This is a dynamic living, breathing, document that will change. Particularly I find most often when your fiscal year has changed because you’ve got to update your financial information, your statistical information, you may have a new client testimonies or stories that you want to include in there.

So you know the case actually consists of and these are the basic case components and I’m going to go into them in greater depth but certainly you want to have your mission statement, you even want to have some goals, some objectives, outline of your programs and services, your financial data, and I’m going to talk a little bit about why that is important. Your governance model or what I would refer to as your board of directors, what your staffing looks like, how you deliver services, and then how you actually plan and evaluate.

And history here, it’s interesting because why is history last and I’m going to share with you over the years I’ve followed Tom Ahern religiously. I live close by the next state over and I got my masters from St Mary’s University on philanthropy and fund development and Simone was one of the instructors there. But Tom said to, I forget who it was, it was in a book or he said to me at one point, “You never lead with history because donors don’t care what you’ve done in the past, they want to know what you’re going to do with their money today and tomorrow.”

History is a small component of your case for support and it’s most often what I see organizations lead with. They want to say, “I’ve been around for a 110 years and this is what we’ve done over the last 110 years. Look at how wonderful we’ve been.” Donors are not investing in that. They’re not investing in that kind of historical piece.

So let’s go through each of the components in greater depth, so the mission statement. That’s pretty self-explanatory or it may not be because what I often see is that mission statements say what an organization does, it doesn’t say why an organization exists. So it becomes more of a purpose statement but that’s not for the realm of this webinar but certainly when you are doing your case for support and you look at your mission statement and you go, “That says what we do.” It’s not really a mission statement or maybe you need to earmark that for you know taking a look at as an organization.

Moving on so you pull out your mission statement, and you put it in there. Now goals and objective, so what do we mean by goals and objectives? So your organization may or may not have goals statements or general statements identifying what you hope to accomplish as you seek to meet those needs, maybe end homelessness or maybe house veterans or end domestic violence or something like that. Objectives are the results specific statements about the ways in which you’ll reach those goals.

Now for me when I get to this point, I oftentimes ask an organization you know about their goals and objectives and what they will share with me is there’s a lot of around their strategic planning goals and objectives and that’s fine, that fits in here. But sometimes organizations have, particularly if you are organizations that do a lot with logic models and federal and state funding and that kind of thing, you already know what your goals and objectives are because you kind of have to kind of flush those out in the process.

Programs and services very self-explanatory. It’s really what you do. So we know what your mission is, we know what your cause is, and we kind of get a sense of your goals and objectives. Well, this is how you meet all of that, whether it’s providing domestic violence and counseling or you’re providing safe homes or emergency shelter program. These are the specifics of what you are actually doing in the program area, so this is your program component and this kind of outlines how you meet the goals and fulfill your mission, and advance your cause.

Now finances and this is an important one for me. I worked for about three years with an organization called the Sisters of Mercy Northeast and that we are very confused when I first started as a staff person there because I said, what is your case for support? What are you raising money for? And in fact, there were no easy answers for that. Many said we were raising money for ministry, we are raising money for the sponsored ministries, we are raising money for their retirement of the sisters, and we are raising money to grant to other organizations. Well, you know no one had a really straightforward answer and that was very confusing.

What we did do is we pulled the financial data of the organization and we looked at exactly how the Sisters of Mercy were spending their money and I think it was almost 70 to 80% of their expenditures was on the retirement and care of the sisters. So it would have been very erroneous if we said that all of the money that we were raising was going to support a sponsored ministry when in fact that was not true. So the finances really have to line up with you know kind of that why you’re saying you need philanthropy.

So here you know you pull your 990s, you pull your audit financial statements, and you’d work with your finance person to really create an in-depth financial picture of both expenditures and revenues that come into your organization. You may want to put some nice shiny pie charts and so forth.

I want to stop and say to all of you out there that if you are interested in seeing an internal case for support that is inside encyclopedic document as well as a summary case external case summary from that internal case for support. So you can see the entire package, just email me later on. You’ll see my contact information. I’ll be more than willing to share that with you and share how all of these things are kind of described within the internal case for support.

Governance, I call it governance because we hope that you have organizations that are governing organizations and certainly not management boards of directors because there is a difference and hopefully you are more of that governance operating. But basically this is the structure of your board of directors or your board of trustees, who govern your organization.

So you may want to outline what your bylaws say in terms of term limits, the composition of your current board of directors, how many members are on your board, how they are elected, you know that recruitment and screening procedure policy, whether or not you do any kind of self-assessment, whether or not the board has your retreats, what kinds of committees you have on your board. You want to outline all of that. And certainly, if you have some resumes on your key board members that would be an important part because donors are looking to invest in organizations that have strong leadership. So this is the way of showing and demonstrating that.

The other piece of this is staffing, so we want to outline how many staff do we have, maybe how many staff on the executive level, how many staff on the direct service level. Certainly biographies, the resumes, you want to outline so that donors know that you have certainly competent and credentialed and professional staff.

Now the other component of staffing that is not indicated on these slides is volunteerism. That’s a very important component. I was meeting with some folks in the organization that I’m working for up in New Hampshire and they said, “Oh yes, grant applications ask for your volunteers and they want to know what your volunteer program is like and how many volunteers you have.” So this is very important to outline because volunteers . . . many organizations have tens of volunteers, to hundreds of volunteers. So you also want to outline kind of who they are, what they look like, what their responsibilities, how you utilize your volunteer force as an organization.

And then I see a comment here, Bill says, “This sounds very similar to a strategic plan.” Well, it will be very helpful to have all this information before going into your strategic planning process wouldn’t it? It really is that encyclopedia or Google of your organization.

And so we continue on with service delivery, now how is this different than the services that you provide? Well, this is how your services are delivered. Are you located along a bus line? Do you have a Meal on Wheels program? When are those meals delivered? Who delivers them? How often do you provide support groups? When are they provided? How accessible are you?

So that’s a little bit of an example of service delivery and then planning and evaluation. So those of you again who have logic models, this is an easy part because you’re required to figure that piece out. But certainly you want to know how do you actually evaluate the impact of your program and services that you’re providing and how you are you all meeting your mission and your goals and objectives as an organization. We all know today that donors are looking for more impact in terms of their giving, so this is becoming an increasingly important section to be able to outline.

And then lastly, as Tom Ahern, I cannot give credit to this. He says rarely is history the most compelling reason to give, so keep it last. Keep it, I wouldn’t say last, but don’t make a big deal about it. I mean, yes, it is a big deal but in terms of what a donor is looking for, yes, history is important to show longevity as an organization, but hey, there are organizations that have just been founded that are doing tremendous things in communities. So be sure that donors, you have your history but let’s not take three or four pages of it and make it all about your history.

So before I move on to the next section about how we actually put this case to work, let me take a look at some questions here very quickly. How long do you consider quality cases to be? Well internal cases for support a lot of and I can share those samples with you, Meagan, but I’ve had cases for support. Right now I’m working on one that has over 20 pages long and they’ve been more than that. It really is an encyclopedia.

Now the summary document, that external case statement is much shorter, maybe about three or four pages, so you can see the difference. And then Tracy is saying, what if the history links are bored leadership? Again, you don’t want to exclude history, you certainly want to include it, but talk about your board leadership today and moving forward into the future because that’s what donors are going to be investing in.

So how do we actually put the case to work because, again, Bill says this is very, this sound very similar to strategic planning and one of the things that happens with strategic planning that I’m sure we all know is that strategic plan sit up on shelves and really never get dusted off and used. So I want to give you concrete steps on how you can actually dust off your case for support and begin to put it to work because it’s one thing to have this document but then it’s another thing to actually use that in the work that you’re doing.

So I’m going to look at and I’m going to share with you some ways that you can actually test the case for support with key stakeholders. How you can engage the donors with your case for support and then how this can be used as a communications, marketing, training, planning, and inspirational tool as Bill was kind of suggesting and then you know the internal resource document that can be used internally.

However, before we do that I do want to just kind of reiterate, again, you can see that a lot of this data would change. So it really needs to be that a living document and I can’t stress enough that you can’t just do it once and not pull it out and look at it again. And sometimes for me when I say process is more important than product I’m a process person because I really want folks engaged within the organization and grappling with information. So quite easily I could write the case and let it be at that, but I like to involve maybe the board chair, maybe some donors, some volunteers in helping to shape and form the documents.

So people begin to become, they buy in and they become invested in the case for support that you have and certainly that buy-in and that ownership is important because what I say to board members is that the case for support might seem like a very big and boring document but essentially it is their manual for the organization, number one. It can prepare them to be able to answer all things about their organization but most importantly your elevator speech actually comes out of, it can come out of your case for support as well as the fact that they are going to be ambassadors for your organization.

So give them the verbiage that can allow them to be those strong ambassadors for your organization and for your philanthropies programs. So certainly buy-in and ownership is critical because they want to feel as if they own what you’re saying within your case of support.

So moving beyond the case I want to talk about a little bit around kind of, “What are some of these other things that you referenced earlier, Robin, around the marketing brief concept and that external case expression and collateral?” And I do want to just share with you and say this marketing brief concept is certainly not my idea. This was a Tom Ahern idea. I haven’t heard him mention it in a while unless anyone else has heard him mention it.

I want to go back one slide because I want to touch upon something else here, back here engaging donors with the case. So it’s interesting because I do a lot of reading over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading around cases for support because they are so intricate and Jerold Panas, who is another very well-known fundraising, internationally fundraising professional had written a book called, I think it was “Making The Case” and I recommend people if you don’t have his book just get it. He writes very simple, quick, easy read.

And one of those ideas on how to engage donors with the case was I thought brilliant because what Jerold Panas recommends is, he said once you have your case for support, particularly your summary document, I’m not so sure. Lynn, it’s “Making The Case.” Lynn is asking what is the name of that book. It’s “Making The Case.”

I wouldn’t recommend sending that whole internal document because if I email it to you, you will see why. It is very large. So once you develop your case summary, Jerry recommended that you get some red pens and you send it, Jerry Panas, Evelyn is his name, and you send it to your donors who you’ve identified with a big draft stamp on the case summary and you say you want their feedback into the case. How brilliant is that? So you call them. Number one it’s an entree into actually getting an appointment because you’ve sent this to them, so now you want to meet with them and go over their feedback and their comments but you’re really investing the donors and engaging them within your organization and within the case.

That old saying around ask for money and you get advice or ask for advice and you get money. Well, this is one of the steps that you can use as a door opener to visit with your donor. Solicit their feedback, make them feel as if they are a valued part of your organization and actually get some buy-in and ownership and make them feel, not make them feel but engaged them in your organization and in your philanthropy program specifically. How brilliant is that? I thought that was just a lovely idea and I thought it was worthy enough to actually go back a few slides and share that with you.

But Tom Ahern had this concept called, The Marketing Brief Concept and for me, I’m going to share why I thought it was a very important concept and I actually have a marketing brief. I’m going to share the story behind that but that I can share with you if you email me later.

But essentially the Sisters of Mercy when I was working for them, I explained to you that they were unsure of what this is and this was a big about-face that we needed to make with the governing board to say, “No, no, it’s not about the sponsored ministries, it’s about the care and retirement of the sisters.” And so before I decided to flush out, I did the internal case, but before I decided to flush out the external case summary, I thought it was wise to visit Tom Ahern idea of what is called, This Marketing Brief Concept. Basically Tom takes the marketing brief idea from the for-profit world where marketing briefs are created regularly around kind of how you’re going to market products. It’s kind of the summary of it. So basically the marketing brief is that. It’s just that. It’s a summary of the internal case for support and that you have just compiled.

You would not send the marketing brief to a printer nor would you share it with the donor. Basically the primary reason that you would create a marketing brief is to gain support and approval in this particular case for the case for support that you were planning to move forward with. It was a wise idea on our part because rather than flush out the case for support and the sisters were feeling like, “No, no, no, that’s completely the wrong direction and here are some proof to show you why.”

This actually provided them with a skeleton of the internal case for support and basically they voted on the marketing brief concept as something that was acceptable to move forward into producing the actual case summary. It was that one step before creating the case summary that we wanted to seek approval to say, are we headed in the right direction and do you find that everything we have written thus far is something that you can wrap your arms around and approve?

So it was a very, very wise move and I would recommend, I mean, marketing briefs, not just for your cases for support but all kinds of projects. So really it is that kind of the summary of the project is the skeleton taking all of those components, the governance, the staffing, the service delivery, the financials and really just creating a short snippets that you can get approved before you actually move on to drafting the case summary.

I hope that’s clear with everyone. And again, I could share with you some samples of what each of these documents, the internal case, the marketing brief, the case summary and then from there I actually can go as far as showing you an external collateral from the whole case process, so you can actually see from start to finish what this is actually look like.

And Jamie is asking this before we move on to the next section. “So did you write this after the full internal case and before the external case?” And yes, the answer is yes and we wrote the marketing brief actually before the case summary was developed to actually get approval for moving forward before spending energy into a document that may or may not be meeting standards. So I hope that answers your question, Jamie.

So moving on I just want to share a little bit around the external case. So let me just kind of summarize what we had the internal case which is the encyclopedia and from there, we had basically what I’m recommending is that marketing briefcase or the marketing brief concept that we provided just for approval and then once it was approved we developed a case summary document, which is still somewhat internal and then we had that approved by the board of directors and actually that’s what the board approved. It did not prove the internal case that stayed internal to the staff.

And then once the case summary was approved, then we could then develop what is called the external cases and external cases are just that. They are made for external consumption. This is what you would share with your donors, this is the messaging that would then go up on your website, specific may be going up on your Facebook or your social media tweets. Certainly the basis of this would be in your appeal letters and certainly the messaging around, why you need contributed income. Again, maybe even on reply or on remittance devices in your newsletters, everything should have or you can use pieces of your case for support.

The messaging because you had it approved, you’ve written it all down, the messaging is clear. It does not vary from grant proposal to website, to what you’re saying in your social media, y. You really go back to the case for support and use the approved documentation or the approved document for everything else. Most often what I see is that groups create all of these things in isolation and they’re not consistent in messaging. So what I am recommending and saying to you is create the case for support first, and then use the case for support as the basis for creating all of these external collateral and again I can share with you samples from start to finish on what the external case looks like for this particular organization.

So I hope that this is all really been very clear to you, what we kind of covered today was a lot of territory in a very, very short, but I basically I’m going to recap here and say that we defined a lot of the critical case components, we talked about where the case fits into the fundraising cycle, and I hope by now you know it’s the first thing that you should do as a new development person is ask where is the case for support and if not, create one. And/or if you’ve been in your office for a while, get off this webinar and say, “Hey, where’s our case for support? Let’s pull it out and look at it, or let’s develop one.”

And then we talk about the different components that go into that case for support. I shared a little bit about how we can put the case for support to work with engaging our board in helping to craft it and refine it, sharing it with our donors, and using it as the elevator speech basis for our board members to become ambassadors. And then we talked about moving beyond that internal case to things like the marketing brief concept and then the case summary and then case expression.

So this concludes our very kind of overview of cases for support and so what I’m going to do now here is I’m going to start to take some questions and answers because there’s a lot of folks out there who do have some questions and certainly I will try to get to as many of them as possible, but you can continue to type them into the questions and answers box. And I want to hear from you in the questions and answers box kind of what you learned during this webinar and what you intend to take back to your office immediately, hopefully as soon as you get off, before you even check your e-mail after you get off this webinar.

We’re going to write down three things that you can kind of take back to your office and implement right away. And let’s see here we’ve got some, so if you can type those in and someone is asking my e-mail, you’ll see that shortly, but now is the time for some questions and answers. And I’m assuming, Steven, the questions are in the questions box here not the Q&A, plea. You’ve kind of compiled them. So let me go ahead and just take some if you don’t mind . . .

Steven: Go for it.

Robin: I think we have a few minutes, is that correct?

Steven: Yeah, we’ve got about 10 minutes I’d say. Yeah.

Robin: All right, great. Cheryl is wondering what types of employees participate in creating the case. Well, I always believe program and fundraising is integral. So when I created the case, Cheryl, I have often brought the program people in and asked them to review the programmatic pieces to make sure. I mean, particularly on the consultant, I don’t know if I’m getting it right, number one. But number two, I want to make sure that the program pieces particularly what donors are going to be funding accurately represents what the organization does. So certainly the executive director needs to first approve of the case for support before it gets forwarded to the board but certainly program people would be helpful, finance people. I’m meeting with a finance person next week to look at the financial component of the case for support for an organization, I’m currently crafting one for.

So those are some kinds of, if you have a volunteer coordinator, that might be a great person to kind of provide some feedback or human resources person on staffing. So just let me know if that answered your question, Cheryl. And then Grant is saying, is asking how important is the board of directors to the fundraising process and also how do you relate this responsibility to them? Well, I say the board is critically important to the fundraising process. I mean, it’s one of their expectations or it should be in their job description, number one, but I hesitate and say fundraising is not all about asking, so board members, a culture of philanthropy needs to exist. The board members understand that there are all sorts and kinds of roles for them to play within development.

And so I think that doesn’t happen often but certainly relating that responsibility is probably another webinar that I’ve done but certainly that happens when you onboard them in the screening interview, when you orientate them, when you bring them on to their first board meeting all of this should be done in advance even before they become a board member. When they’re considering candidacy, expectations should be made clear.

Tracey is saying . . . we answered Tracey’s question about the history links on board leadership. So I hope that I got that for you, Tracy. And then Amanda here says, how do you test the case? What does that actually look like and how long should it take? I kind of describe the process how you test the case with donors but sharing it with board members, share it with a select group, who you’ve pre-identify strategically. We don’t want to send it to all board members because we probably . . . that wouldn’t be a good idea or at least that has happened to me and has not been a good idea.

I see you want to really strategically determine who on your board would really be an advocate for understanding the document and refining it and sharing it with them and then again sharing it with donors and sharing it with the executive director.

And then Amanda continues and asks, is there any statistics on how much having and using a case made to fundraising buy-in or conversely,? What is the impact of not having a case? Well, I don’t know what the statistics are to be quite honest with you. It’s a great question but I would love to research that one but the answer is if you do not have a strong case for support, I can guarantee that you that your messaging is probably going to be all over the place and so that’s going to impact how well you fundraise. Not only that but have you really work to refine your messaging, your philanthropic messaging so that it’s compelling and urgent enough on the chose the case for support process. And if you haven’t undertaken that process, I can guarantee is probably not going to be as compelling and urgent as it could be. So that will definitely impact how donors respond to your messaging.

Sandy asks, so the external case may be made up of different parts of the eternal case for example, for a grant for one area the organization versus entire, yes, versus entire organizational support? Yes, yes, yes, you got it, Sandy. You got what this is all about and how you can take and use as you need or as I say cut and paste in this day and age for different collateral pieces, grants being one of those.

And then Danielle asks, “Some board members say our organization doesn’t grip at heartstrings. How do I show them that our cause is worth pursuing and that people will donate?” Well, one thing that I did not say and this is a great question, Danielle, in this webinar particularly was that I often include client testimonials. So I will go through and refresh those as well yearly, but they’re the stories that you would consider sharing in your appeal letters, those emotional stories that add heart and soul to your statistics, to your finances, to your governance. They are the stories that will grip at heartstrings and yes, those two should be in a case of for support and if you email me for samples, you will see how I’ve incorporated those into the internal cases.

Do we have time for any more questions? I know we’re at 1:52 because we’ve got a lot. Holy moly.

Steven: Why don’t we take one more, I know, and Robin, would you be willing to answer questions maybe via e-mail since we can’t get to all these?

Robin: Oh absolutely. Do you mind if I put up my contact, and oh thank you very much.

Steven: Yeah, please.

Robin: Absolutely, if I don’t get to your questions, feel free to email me and for those samples as well. Janet, “If using a consultant to assist in creating a case of support about how many hours and at what cost would this be?” That’s a great question and it all depends upon the complexity of the organization. Again, how many programs and services do you have? You know, what does your organization consist of? I have spent upwards, and I’ll just give you an example, Janet, working on other projects but spent the whole summer primarily July and August of last year working on a case of support for the organization that I’d be willing to share their samples for. And so the case was actually approved in late September of last year by the board of directors.

So it took about a good two months with dedicated consultant time on that, about one to one and a half days per week of my time was spent on drafting their case for support. So I hope that gives a good gauge. So please feel free to, we’re going to . . . I’m going to stop here and turn this over to Steve, Steven, . . . but please email me any more of your questions and I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you on the phone or via email to see if we can get you some answers. So thank you very much. This has been wonderful.

Steven: Yeah, thanks for all of you for listening for an hour and I know it’s quite a busy an year with year-end coming up and events but we definitely appreciate you hanging out with us for an hour. And Robin we owe you our thanks as well. This is a lot of great information. So thanks to you for sharing all your knowledge with us. It was great.

Robin: Absolutely, I’ve enjoyed it. So thank you for having me.

Steven: Well, do you reach out to Robin. Obviously, she is a wealth of knowledge. So I hope you all will email her and hit her up for some of those resources, follow her on Twitter, and all that good stuff. We’ve got some other great resources on our website as well, you can check out some of our freebies there. I will be sending out the recording and the slides in case you didn’t already get those. You’ll get those within a couple hours here. So don’t worry about being able to review the content. I’ll get those in your hands for sure. We’ve got our Broomcorn annual conference coming up here in February of next year in Phoenix.

So if you are in the Southwest area or you want to see any of these awesome speakers. We’ve got Adrian Sergeant, Clay Axelrad, Kivi Leroux Miller, and Kent Stroman headlining our one day event in BloomCon. So check that out, we’ve got some special early bird pricing going on right now. We love to see you at Phoenix if you can make it. If you can’t make it, we’ve got our webinar series is going to keep on going.

We’re taking next week off but we had a couple good ones coming up here in November, we’ve got Gail Perry in two weeks and in about I guess it’s four weeks from now, I can’t believe it’s almost December, but really good one. If you haven’t really put together any of your year-end giving plans yet, I know it’s getting close to the wire but it’s not too late. Check out that one on November 30th when Alice Ferris and James Anderson, they’re quite the dynamic duo. We are going to be talking about last minute year end giving strategies, they’ve got some good ideas for you. So register for that if it’s interesting to you, hopefully it will be. And hopefully we’ll see you again on another Thursday webinar.

So we’ll call it a day there, just look for an e-mail from me later on this afternoon with all the goodies and hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon. So have a good rest of your Thursday, have a safe weekend, and we’ll talk again soon.

Robin: Okay, thank you, Steven.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.