Building Your Case For Support
Your case for support is one of the most important documents you will create for your organisation. Put simply, it’s your reasoning for why people should support you.
What Does a Successful Case for Support Look Like?
Your case for support should be like a light bulb going off in the minds of potential supporters.
To flick the switch, you need to put forward a strong business case, one that outlines your mission and creative vision, explaining why you need support and what positive outcomes supporters can expect.
The best case for support statements include a mix of emotionally compelling stories sharing the work you have already done and the work you are planning to do, combined with cold hard facts that provide quantitative support for your claim. This should help potential supporters understand why you and your project matter and why they should care.
You will need to vary the content and tone of your case for support depending on the audience. An appeal to a private donor or foundation may need to be different to your pitch on a crowdfunding website.
Always make sure the style of your statement reflects who you are.
How Do I Use a Case for Support?
A great case for support is much more than a fundraising tool. It is a Swiss Army Knife. You can use it as a communications tool, a marketing tool, a training tool, a planning tool, or an inspiration tool.
As you write newsletters, blogs, emails, website copy, social posts, and letters to supporters, keep returning to your statement as a blueprint for the logic and language you are using.
Treat your case statement as a living document so it remains relevant. You may even need to re-write it every now and again as things change for you.
How Do I Start Building My Case for Support?
A simple way to begin is to briefly explain what you are trying to do and why. You also need to give some thought to why someone may want to help you do it?
Drill down into your reasons for making your work.
Ask yourself: Who am I? What do I want? What is my work about? Why is this important or compelling? Who am I making my work for? What difference will it make in the world?
What Should Be Included in a Case for Support?
There are five key elements to a great case for support
- An emotive opening Pack an emotional punch with your opening statement. Not too many words, just the best ones. Supporters will read your opening statement and decide whether to keep reading. Or not.
- Your mission and creative vision (what you are going to do). Tell a great story. What are you here for? You want supporters to be here for the same thing.
- What you have done Include only the good stuff and provide a timeline of when you did this.
- Explanation of your work Who is the work for? Give us all that data you have collected on impact and reach. But do not try to appeal to everyone. Demonstrate integrity and credibility by knowing your audience and outline how you plan to keep them. Avoid jargon and exaggeration. Keep it professional and positive. Testimonials are great here.
- Financial and in-kind needs It is vital you know exactly how much money you need, why you need it and what the result will be. Be as specific as possible. Share exactly how any raised funds will be spent. It may be clearer to provide a budget including anticipated income and expenses. This provides accountability too, something you can report back on.
How Do I Ask People for Money or Support?
Put together a detailed stakeholder list and a communications plan with priorities. Go to your most likely supporters first, as it will provide good news to share with other potential supporters.
Likely supporters could include:
- Family and friends
- Past supporters and donors
- Buyers and collectors
- Your e-network ie. database subscribers, eNews recipients, social media followers, etc.
- Individuals or businesses that could provide in-kind support
Do not make your list of stakeholders too broad. Its probably easier and more likely you will find ten donors to give you $1000 than it would be to find one hundred donors to give you $100.
How Do I Bring All the Information Together for My Case for Support?
Approach this challenge with optimism, with the knowledge that there will be people out there that would like to help you achieve your goals and ambitions. You are offering them an opportunity to be part of something special, which may include a desire to help others, give back to the community, show compassion, encourage, and support creativity, artistic expression, and innovation. If you are still having trouble, it is worth seeking help.
You may know a professional writer who would help articulate your case. A friend in finance might help you with your budget. A marketing or communications person who can help you with social media.
To build your confidence, pass your case for support by a friend or relative, to get their reaction. Finally, have someone proofread it.
A Final Word of Advice
However good your case for support, it is rarely easy to raise private support. It can also be very intimidating for some. Raising money from family, friends and your broader network may simply not be for you. That is OK, you are not alone. But if you are keen to give it a go, start with some easy, comfortable wins and go from there.
Also, some of Creative Partnerships Australia’s Funding Programs, like Plus1 and Match Lab can give you a terrific start.
Below we dive into two successful cases for support to show what works, and why. Big thanks to La Mama Theatre and West Australian Ballet for sharing their cases for support with us. Read their case studies:
Watch the next video: Creating Relationships for Life.
About the presenters
Sandra Robertson, Development Director, Melbourne Recital Centre
Sandra has over 25 years’ experience in fundraising and senior leadership in the not-for-profit sector. She is Development Director of Melbourne Recital Centre. Previously she held a grants management role in local government, development roles with the National Ballet of Canada and Australia Business Arts Foundation, and was Deputy General Manager of Melbourne Festival. As a consultant, she has provided strategic development and business planning advice to a range of Australian arts organisations. Sandra has an honours business degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business, London Canada and a Masters of Marketing from Monash University. She was the recipient of a Betty Amsden scholarship to attend executive education at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School. She is currently on the board of Polyglot Theatre.
Melinda Martin, Director, Linden Art
Melinda is Director of Linden New Art, a leading contemporary public art gallery based in the Melbourne bayside suburb of St Kilda. Since joining the organisation in 2012, she has overseen the development of a new strategic vision and building upgrade to help shape the galleries success. Melinda has over 20 years’ experience working across the private and public sector, including senior roles with the Australia Business Arts Foundation, Anna Schwartz Gallery and Monash Gallery of Art. In 2018, Melinda was awarded a scholarship to join the Women in Leadership Program at Melbourne Business School and in 2017 she travelled to the UK with support from the Gordon Darling Foundation to review a range of donor and community engagement programs in contemporary galleries. Melinda was a member of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria’s Board, serving as Vice President from 2014 to 2016, and chaired their fundraising sub-committee.