Why Your Case Statement is Not Enough

Graph diagram pie chart 3dBy Nanette Fridman

You work hard to make a compelling and inspirational case for support, beautifully articulating why people should financially support your organization. You have a committee that has worked for months on the draft and you have shown it to various stakeholders before presenting it to your board for approval. At the board, the case for giving receives rave reviews, and it is approved with some small changes.

The best case for giving describes: (1) the community need, (2) your solution, (3) why you are uniquely able to provide the solution, (4) your impact, (5) your financial model, (6) your strategic direction, (7) the resources required for success and (8) the social return on a donor’s investment.

Armed with this rationale for funding your organization and your prospect list, your campaign committee meets and begins to finalize collateral, assign names and set meetings. You breathe a sigh of relief. This is finally going to happen! The campaign for your new program, new position, scholarship/financial aid, new technology, endowment – you fill in the blank – is on its way!

Alas, there is one, big, glaring problem. You see just because you have a clear and aspirational vision, it doesn’t mean that your organizational has a sustainable funding plan or a business plan. Without these, your largest donors – and increasingly those being asked for any amount (especially if they have been burned previously) – are not likely to invest, certainly not at the levels you hope.

A fundraising plan lays out how enough sustainable money will be raised to support your mission and shows the mixture of your philanthropic vehicles e.g. annual individual giving, events, board giving, corporate sponsors, foundational support, endowment, capital campaign, etc. What are your donor segments? How are you sourcing prospects and filling your pipeline? How are you retaining donors? What are your recognition and incentive vehicles for upgrades?

A business plan depicts your earned income for unrestricted revenue for your nonprofit. What are your costs? How many customers do you have? What are the demographic and environmental trends that will affect demand? What is the price for your services and goods and what is its elasticity? What is your value proposition and how does it fit in the current market?

Nonprofit donors are investors. You need a fundraising plan and a business plan to show your investors how you are going to yield mission return on their dollars in a sustainable way.

If you want to appeal to savvy donors, give them the financial data and analysis, in addition to a strong and well-written case statement, to feel that they are investing wisely.

Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and leadership coaching for nonprofits. She is the author of “On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service.” Nanette can be reached at fridmanstrategies@gmail.com.