When starting to apply for grants, one of the biggest questions is where do I start? And one of the biggest mistakes is operating a nonprofit without a solid case for support. Having a case statement that connects with your donors is essential.
Think about when you first started working for your nonprofit. You asked yourself why do I want to invest my career in this nonprofit. Your case for support or case statement is this why. This case statement allows donors to know immediately why you need their support. And with a stack of grant applications, if you are not clear, succinct, and impactful your nonprofit grant application will be passed right over.
Today we join Jacquelyn Ahrenberg, CFRE, Nonprofit Consultant at Resolute Nonprofit Consulting as she teaches us how to write the perfect case for support. Jacquelyn has raised $9.5 million dollars Phoenix Theatre, Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Native American Community Center, YWCA Metro Phoenix, and ICM Food & Clothing Bank.
So let’s get to it.
Case Support: The “Why” Behind Your Nonprofit
Your “WHY” is who you are, who your serve, and why you exist. If you don’t focus on this step in the beginning the next steps: research, relationship, and write-up will not fall into place and you will be writing in circles. Here are 5 questions to ask to clearly define your case for support.
In 5 years, what does your nonprofit organization want to accomplish?
What need are you trying to solve in the community? Identify what help or resources you are providing to your population with a specific need. This is your mission that drives your NPO.
Who are you serving?
Be very specific with the population you are serving and impacting. Do you help single women under 35 who have are unexpectedly pregnant? Do you serve families below a certain income level? Your population should not be the general public, you cannot appeal to everyone.
What change will be made in the community you are serving?
Define what changes you will be making with the population that you serve. Attach these changes to a timeline. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your changes ensuring they are timebound to reassure your foundations there is an expected timeline for results.
How will you continue to grow and sustain your nonprofit?
As you grow how will continue to be impactful? This may consist of expanding the number of clients you serve or the number of programs you are running. If you need ideas, research similar nonprofits in different regions to see how you could continue to grow and spread your impact. Foundations want to ensure their money is being donated to organizations that are secure and sustainable.
What would success look like?
How do you know what your change made an impact? Figure out how you will evaluate outreach success. It could be as simple as a pre and post happiness survey with the clients you served. Foundations are willing to invest in this portion of your program and hire outside a third-party evaluator, so be sure to write this into your program application.
Gain clarity on your nonprofit’s case statement.
Take 60 seconds to vocally record your answers to these questions as quickly as possible. Transcribe it and then condense it down to a few sentences. You now have your case for support and can move on to researching possible foundations that are willing to invest in your cause.
Pro-tip: You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize writer to write your case for support. But, there are tools out there that help you along the way such as Grammarly.