A Case for Support is a written statement of why a donor should support an organisation and, when effective, it is the foundation on which all communication is built. A Case for Support demonstrates who you are, why you do what you do and why you are so perfectly poised to meet a particular set of challenges at a particular time.
There is no simple template for a Case for Support. It is a creative document that stems from the values, goals, principles, beliefs and ideals of a particular organisation. It breathes life and vitality into describing your organisation. It is always factual, never dry, partly inspirational, blatantly vivid and unashamedly motivational. It is the document that translates an organisation into a cause, and a cause into a mission. It is the jolt that gets a donor off the fence and racing toward the “give” button.
Despite there being no set template, there are ten core elements that make up every Case for Support:
1. Case statement
The case statement exhibits your mission, vision, goals, objectives, history and reason for seeking funds. Try not to use the same words that have been used previously to describe the latter. Write them in a way that is fresh, appealing, factual, succinct and interesting.
Every Case for Support has a theme that encapsulates the entire document and draws all the elements together into one lucid, inspiring and creative whole. A theme is not simply a tag line for a campaign but embodies the quality, mood and texture of the project and the work.
This is the section where you motivate the reader to action i.e. to give resources. The motivation must present the facts as vivid and stirring information. An organisation may have more than one version of a motivational section depending on who the communication is aimed at. For example, an international foundation would most likely be motivated differently from an individual South African donor.
4. Unique position
A Case for Support states with conviction and honesty the reason why your organisation at this time is best suited to fulfill a need or gap. Some of the topics which should be touched on are: your history of success, your connections within the sector or the community, your vision for success, your plan to make that vision come true, the capacities of your staff, your reputation with other players in the sector, your contacts for further resource and success building.
5. Need or problem
Describe the need or problem simply and with integrity, the vision that your organisation has to provide an effective solution to, the resources and support that you require to accomplish the solution, and how you will steward the programme.
6. Money and/or resources
Be candid about the money and/or other resources that you will require. Be explicit about how the money will be spent and what kind of checks and balances are in place to ensure good financial management.
7. The facts
The facts must be included in your Case for Support as they help to corroborate your overall need and solution and provide substance to your organisation. What are facts? They will be different for each organisation and each project. They can range from organisational information such as staffing, locations, capacity, training programmes and development successes to details about beneficiaries, to information on the local, national or global environment in which your organisation works or the project takes place.
8. The passion
The reader must see the fervour and excitement that the project and its outcomes ignite in your organisation. Too often, we expunge all sense of this from our written proposals because we feel it is “unprofessional”. In truth, when done well, it is the one thing that will keep people turning the pages. Write the first version with everything you’ve got. You can always tone it down afterwards.
Your Case for Support must be sincere and authentic. It must convey genuine need and legitimate urgency. It must make the person who reads it want to be part of your project because your writing and descriptions are true, trustworthy and dependable. An inauthentic Case for Support may get you an initial reaction but will never build durability and relationships in even the medium term.
The closing statement should be a short reiteration that brings the themes, needs and outcomes together in a seamless loop and inspires the reader to act.