Nonprofit Network Blog

The Place Where All Fundraising Should Start

Wednesday, March 07, 2018 4:58 PM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)

Sharon Castle
Capacity Builder

Storytelling is the "it" thing these days. Why is that?  Here's one explanation from the Moth Radio Hour:

“Since 1999, we have been partnering with community organizations around the world to practice storytelling as an art form and a powerful tool of communication. Through workshops and performance opportunities, participants shape selected life experiences into well-crafted stories and share them with members of their communities and beyond. 

We believe that by honoring the individual experience, we can:

  • Challenge dominant narratives
  • Inspire greater confidence in storytellers
  • Deepen connection in community
  • And spark empathy among listeners around the world.”

As you see from the explanation taken from the Moth’s website – and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to some of their podcasts, I would highly recommend it – telling one’s story can have a huge impact. 

As with individuals, for-profits and nonprofits are also developing their unique storiestheir vibeto motivate folks to buy their product, to support their cause in short, to invest in their vision.

So where should you, as a leader of a nonprofit reliant on donors, begin to develop your organization’s story?  

Start by creating your organization’s Case for Support or CFS.  The CFS should articulate in clear and compelling language your organization’s story and “make the case” for why a donor should continue to give, increase their giving, or why a prospective donor should begin giving to your organization.

Once you’ve gone through the difficult work of writing the CFS, your life will be much easier and you will be able to use its language when writing your annual appeal, thank you letters, creating verbiage for your fundraising efforts on your website or designing a special event invitation.  

Simply put, the Case for Support is the genesis for all of your fundraising efforts.  It is the place where all fundraising should start. Even more importantly, it is a wonderful tool for board, staff and volunteers to use when soliciting support for your organization.

Before you begin working on your organization’s CFS, think KISS. You know: keep it simple, stupid.

In order to develop a strong CFS you will need general information like your organization’s mission and vision (if you have one) statements and strategic plan; financial information including budget(s) and financial statements; program information including statistics, expenses; and dreams (what we could accomplish if we had…)

Be sure to gather all of that information, because you'll need it to effectively these critical parts of your story: 

  • Your organization’s history
  • The need your organization was designed to address
  • Impact and success to date
  • What you hope to achieve, by when
  • How much it will cost and how it will be funded
  • Why your organization should be the beneficiary of the donor’s gift.

The final version of the CFS should be no more than 2-3 pages on the organization and no more than a page for each program or other activity supported by fundraising.  Furthermore, it should be light on text and include quotes and pictures to support written information.  

Just as you began, end with KISS—and remember to be thorough and succinct.

Ready to learn how to use your organization's unique story as you pursue funding for your organization? 

Attend Leverage Your Story: Building the Case for Support on September 25th.

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