Writing an effective charity fundraising case for support really matters. Writing multiple funding bids and other material, on a case for case basis, can be very time consuming and you need to get the bids out, to get the money in. Equally, information may be presented differently in various materials (leaflets, website), potentially leading to this either conflicting or appearing to, which might undermine donor confidence. Besides, with the best will in the world, it’s unlikely that you’ll present the very best case every time. Unless you have a way of making sure you do
One way of addressing these issues, is to create a core case for support that sets out all the key information needed for a range of donors and other stakeholders. This can then be adapted to meet the needs of specific donors or tailored to support different fundraising and communications activity. The advantages are:
- Much of the core material for each bid, or other communication, can simply be picked up from the core case, making bid writing quicker and easier.
- All the key facts and information are available, so you present the best case each time and the information included in all material is clear and consistent.
- It is a very useful briefing sheet that can be used by those meeting with funders and responding to questions, to ensure they are fully briefed.
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This is an entirely internal document and, as it covers all your activities, will be longer than most funding bids. Nonetheless, it is important that it is:
- Succinct – funders receive lots of applications and are often volunteers. A long bid is less likely to be read as thoroughly and the key points are likely to be more difficult to pick up.
- Compelling – include data and arguments that very clearly make the case.
- Urgent – there is huge need across the sector and a bid for work that isn’t essential now may well not be considered a priority.
- Emotionally Engaging – people give because they want to help others, so don’t simply rely on facts and data. Tell your story in a human way.
Information to be included:
- Background information on your charity and its activities.
- Explain what the need is and why addressing this is not only important, but also urgent.
- How you will meet the needs of your beneficiaries and the impact this will have on their lives.
- Evidence your work with examples of recent successes, to demonstrate:
- Your ability to deliver,
- The impact you are having and;
- Why you are the best organisation to make this difference.
- Outline what will happen (or not happen), if your work does not go ahead and the impact this will have.
- Identify how much money you need to raise and over what timescale. It can be helpful to have a costed shopping basket of fundable items.
Explaining the challenges and urgency helps to make your case, but an unremittingly negative picture doesn't. Donors want to know that their funding will make a real difference, so paint a positive picture that makes clear what this will be.
- Avoid jargon and waffle by using clear and simple language. Ever heard anyone say they enjoyed reading business speak? Me neither.
- If you need to use acronyms that aren't commonly understood, explain them the first time you do. Do you know what BBSRC stands for? I didn't - see below, if you really want to know.
- Ensure facts and figures are accurate and include sources, so that you can respond to any queries on where these came from and demonstrate these are robust.
- You may wish to consider uploading your case into Drop Box or similar and giving access to those who might need it. You might also upload relevant reports, in case they may wish to access these.
- You might also use hyperlinks to these and relevant online documents, referred to in your core case, so people can very quickly and easily click through to more detailed information if they want to.
- Nominate an individual to take ownership of the core case and ensure that it is kept up-to-date.
- Ensure that the way in which you portray your beneficiaries is the way in which they would wish to be.
- Be mindful of data protection by ensuring that you have informed consent to include any personal information on an individual, if this is something you wish to do.
- No bid is ever perfect and many organisations are facing real difficulties, so you may wish to think through in advance and provide properly considered responses to any potentially challenging questions you might subsequently be asked.
- Give the final draft to someone and ask them to critique it, so you can be confident that you’ve captured all the key issues and there are no mistakes or blind spots in your thinking.
Using the Core Case
Once the Case for Support has been written, use it as a basis for preparing fundraising materials, adapting it to suit the intended audience and the method that will be used to communicate with potential donors.
Ensure that those who will be meeting or communication with donors have access to this, so that they can respond quickly and effectively, and information is provided consistently to donors by everyone on the team.