In building their case for funding, most nonprofits go about things all wrong. They don't tell a compelling story that contains the elements of success. It is important to frame your "ask" in such a way as to first build an emotional appeal and then present valid reasons why "anyone" would want to participate. The audience need is primary, your need is secondary. Here's how to get organized and build a dynamite case for funding:
The case for funding statement is a clear, concise, and most importantly a compelling 1-2 page document that defines the reasons a donor would want to make a contribution or grant to your organization. Within the context of fundraising, this statement should pull together some of the following information and reflect the passion of the organization.
- Vision for the Future– What do you plan to accomplish as the result of your mission and work? A Vision Statement defines what the organization wants to become. The vision should be shared by all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than themselves. A vision should stretch the organization’s capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization’s future and the future of its constituents.
- Mission Statement – Defines who are you, what you do, for whom and what cause? Mission/Purpose is a precise description of what an organization does. It should describe the business of the organization. It is a definition of "why" the organization exists currently. Each member of an organization should be able to verbally express this mission.
- Organizational Values – Value statements are grounded in principle and define how people want to behave with each other in the organization. They are statements about how the organization will value customers, suppliers, and the internal community. Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held by most individuals within the organization.
- Statement of Community Need – This element identifies the problem or issues that exist, how it effects your constituents, and why it is important to the community. It may include the history and historical impact of the organization and how it has worked to alleviate the situation. A success story or simple case study may work to establish the relevance of the problem and the work that needs to be done for the community’s benefit.
- Goals & SMART Objectives – As a result of your overall strategic plan or vision, what are the key goals and objectives that will work to achieve your vision? These should be set out with striking objectivity, with specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely details.
- Program – What projects, products and services do you provide? First a simple description of your product or service offering will give an overview of your work. But ensure that your description answers the following question: How does your program address the statement of need and achieve mission goals and objectives?
- Organization – Every organization is a sum of its parts. The role of the board, staff, sponsors, and volunteers is critical in defining your work and worth. Be sure to include key staff and board member backgrounds.
- Financial Background – Historical income, expenses, cash flow, audits and other $$$ information is important to include either as part of the statement or as an addendum.
- Discussion of Organizational Need – What do you require? This where you frame how the funder can participate in your mission. Resources broken down by program, special projects, admin, equipment, capital & endowment (if appropriate) are necessary to build your case.
- Evaluation Strategies – Are critical to success. What outcomes do you measure, how do you determine your work is effective, and how does it relate to the consumer of your work and the community?
- Funder Benefit – What are the benefits to specific funding constituencies, such as large donors, corporations, foundations. Answer the question, “What is in it for THEM?”
Follow these guidelines and you will see your donations rise.