Tuesday April 17, 2012
We could begin by defining what it is not. A Case for Support is not marketing material. It may borrow some of the elements and principles of marketing, and passages of the written Case for Support can often be repurposed for an organization’s marketing and communications campaign, but the Case for Support is not a marketing document per se.
If anything, you could say that it is a hybrid. It is in part an internal document for an organization, to serve as a summary of all that you are and all the wonderful things that you do; a text that can be given to staff and to volunteers so that they may understand and communicate the organization’s history, raison d’être, mission, vision and values when interacting with others outside the organization.
It is also in a very real sense an argument, an essay intended as a component piece in a complete donor package or presented to a potential funder, leading prospective donors and funders to understand why your organization is worthy of their support. Much as a lawyer argues a legal case for his client, a Case for Support argues persuasively on your behalf by giving the prospect all that he or she needs to know to make a gift or funding decision.
The Case for Support has a clear purpose—to bring the reader to understand the Need and thus be open to the Ask. The argument itself—your story—is the thread connecting your history, your work and your people to the Ask.
In summary, a Case for Support is an information document that is intended to enlighten and inform as much as it is intended to influence.
Now, it can do this by making both an emotional appeal and a rational appeal to the reader, through the use of stories as well as statistics. Whether the tone of a Case is weighted in favour of one or the other depends largely on the organization and/or the campaign. But both should be present in more or less equal measure, as there will always be two types of prospects: those for whom facts and stats are most convincing, and those for whom the emotional message is the most motivating.
But always, a Case for Support must come from a position of integrity, truthfulness and forthrightness.