The Guide to Developing a Useful Case for Support [+ FAQs]

We’ve all been there – you’re working on a grant application, just hours before it’s due, and you just can’t get the wording right to describe your organization’s latest initiative. If only you had some live, working document to pull text from! That’s where a useful case for support comes in to save the day.…

8 minutes read
The Guide to Developing a Useful Case for Support [+ FAQs]

case for support

We’ve all been there – you’re working on a grant application, just hours before it’s due, and you just can’t get the wording right to describe your organization’s latest initiative.

If only you had some live, working document to pull text from! That’s where a useful case for support comes in to save the day.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to develop a case for support that you can actually use and how to use it to its full advantage.

  1. What is a Case for Support for Nonprofits?
  2. 8 Steps to Developing a Useful Case for Support
  3. How to Best Use a Case for Support at Your Nonprofit
  4. Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What is a Case for Support for Nonprofits?

A case for support is an internal, working document you can use to create outward-facing messaging. Think of your case for support document as a kind of bulletin board that you tack all your key messages and copy to. Other people in your organization should have access to it to help it evolve so it stays up to date with your organization’s activities.

A case for support is not a case statement. This is a common point of confusion! Case statements are outward-facing documents that you use to make asks from individuals, granting institutions, and more. Your case for support can help create this. For in-depth insights into strong case statements, we have a quick 10-minute episode on Donorbox’s The Nonprofit Podcast.

This vital document can also be extremely helpful when preparing paperwork for state-by-state compliance registrations. Since each state requires different information, it’s nice to quickly patch answers together.

Simply put, your case for support will be the reference point for any documentation, forms, marketing materials, or other messaging you need to create for your organization.

8 Steps to Developing a Useful Case for Support

Here are some steps to develop the best case for support possible.

1. Round up your history

An important place to start is where your organization started! Create a section in your case for support that outlines your history –

  • Information about your founder,
  • How and why your organization was founded, and
  • Details about your growth.

Pro tip: When it comes to your history, it’s best to make a couple of different versions. One can be more detailed, and another can be more succinct. Think about the different uses you’ll have for the history section and devise options based on that.

2. Include a solid mission statement

A mission statement is one concise sentence or paragraph that directly speaks to what your organization seeks to accomplish. Your organization agrees to use it everywhere – on your website, social media, campaigns, and any mailed materials. Consistency is key.

You might have a longer mission statement for things like grant applications, and a shorter mission statement for fundraising appeals or campaigns. This is fine, as long as the core ideas are the same and you are consistent with how you use them.

You must include these core ideas in your case for support. So when someone at your organization needs to refer to your mission – for any documentation or messaging – they will find it handy!

3. Update your board and stakeholder lists

Clearly listing the key people in charge of stewarding your organization is an important step toward nonprofit transparency. So it’s important to put it in your case for support, too!

Keeping this section of your case for support current with names, positions, pictures, and sometimes even salaries/compensation of your key staff members will make this a more useful document.

4. Go by initiative

When it comes to the rest of your case for support, create sections for each of your organization’s initiatives or operating goals.

For example, if outreach and education are two separate goals of your mission, create a separate section for each with information about what each goal accomplishes.

Breaking it down by initiative allows you to get specific enough to be helpful, while still being easy to reconstruct for outside documents as needed.

5. Outline facility information

If your campus or building is ever something you plan on fundraising for – with a capital campaign or other fundraising – you should include a section about your facilities.

This section should explain the history of your facility, any urgent needs (i.e. HVAC issues), any special requirements (i.e. archival materials), and any past fundraising for your facility.

It’s also a good idea to include the value of the building – both financial value as an asset and mission value as the place where your important work takes place.

6. Describe your funding needs

Although your funding needs might vary by fundraising campaign, you should know what kind of funding you need to accomplish your basic activities.

In other words, what does it cost to complete your mission? Having this established at the get-go makes updating your needs for each campaign easier.

This will be highly beneficial when your fundraising team sets up a fundraising campaign. Your online donation tool should let you add a goal thermometer highlighting the funding needs. This saves a lot of time and for your campaign, it creates a sense of urgency that gets you more donations! Check out this great live example from San Diego Chinese Women’s Association’s online donation form created on Donorbox.

donorbox goal thermometer

Get Started With Donorbox

7. Demonstrate your impact in detail

Be sure to include a section with information that demonstrates your impact.

This can include stats and figures from past impact reports for easy compiling. You can even add a matrix map to show how your organization’s expenses compare to its profitability.

These details will help send campaign updates or thank-you emails to your donors. If you’d go more in detail, then you could also add specific impact details to your suggested ask amounts on your online donation form.

Pro tip: It’s important to go beyond showing numbers and instead convey your impact through storytelling and pictures. If you have pictures with beneficiaries or videos of your on-ground work, keep them linked to your case for support. The same goes for stories – any real stories of change should go in there. All this would enable your team to be prompt with campaign creation, appeals, fundraising calls, and marketing.

8. Build a system for easy maintenance

Lastly, a case for support is an ongoing document you and your team need to maintain and improve continuously. For that, along with creating this document, you have to set a process in place.

The best way you can accomplish this is by making changes in real time on a shared drive of your choice. You can opt for Google Docs, Sheets, or Drive. This facilitates the sharing process as well. You can also share specific accesses as per your team members’ roles.

Keep the process documented and share it with your team, volunteers, and board members. Teach them the best practices for using it and make sure you’re monitoring the effectiveness.

How to Best Use a Case for Support at Your Nonprofit

nonprofit case for support

Your case for support will never be a public-facing document. But at the end of the day, its goal is to create materials you can easily repurpose.

Let us take a look at how you can make the most of your case for support.

1. Fundraising materials

Be it a new fundraising campaign or an upcoming event or a phone call for donation, fundraising materials are must-haves for your organization’s fundraising success.

Here are some key fundraising materials you will need –

  • Fundraising campaign story.
  • Case statement.
  • Sponsorship proposals.
  • Thank-you quotes or messages.
  • Outreach best practices.
  • Fundraising scripts.
  • Donor brochures.
  • Campaign updates, images, and videos.

And more. Your case for support can be the reference for all these materials.

For example, if you can store a collection of gratitude quotes for your letters and emails, this would make your fundraising team’s job much easier!

Or imagine you keep all your members’ and volunteers’ contact information stored in it – this would make accessing and using it in times of need much more convenient!

2. Grant applications

You may have a grant writer who takes care of your applications and the research procedure. However, your writer will need a good deal of information about your organization’s history, leadership, mission, vision, and more.

The ideal case for support includes all this information as well as past impact, links to annual reports, campaign updates, etc. This makes your writer’s job easier than you can imagine! Plus, they won’t have to scramble for information while you and your staff are busy with other crucial activities.

Pro tip: Remember there’s some language you might use with granting institutions and foundations that you might not use with your average donor. So it’s important to think about that whenever you pull content from your case for support. Having a professional writer is, therefore, all the more important.

3. Marketing messages

Nonprofit marketing is a vital step to meeting your fundraising goals, growing your relationships with donors, and reaching prospective supporters through the right messaging.

Your social media staff will highly benefit from a case for support that includes details of your campaigns, organization, key messages, instructions on the usage of tone, and more.

It is advisable to link your donor database from the case for support document and give your team the necessary access to it. This way, it will be easier to find and define the target audience for a particular social media or email campaign.

Donorbox Donor Management securely stores your donor and donation information. You can easily segment your donor records based on campaign name, donation amount, donation frequency, time frame, and more filters (shown below) to create personalized communication. Donorbox also seamlessly integrates with leading CRM solutions like Salesforce, Blackbaud RE NXT, HubSpot, etc. to help you utilize this data for marketing and other important needs.

donorbox donor management

Donorbox Donor Management - Learn More!

You can also add and track any communication notes from your donors to their respective records and use Donor Moments to create personalized messages.

Donorbox also lets you invite team members and assign them ‘member or admin’ roles for specific campaigns. Your case for support along with this powerful tool will help make your fundraising and communications much easier!

Over to You

Start creating your case for support today by following the steps outlined in this article. With a few key principles in mind, you can create a useful reference tool for key members of your organization to use when creating great fundraising and marketing materials.

Need more help with nonprofit management? We have plenty of guides including those for case management, leadership, project management, crisis communications, and more at the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog.

You will also find free templates and resources at the Donorbox Library and great masterclasses from our experts at the Donorbox Academy!

Subscribe to our newsletter – and we promise to curate the best collection of all these resources and deliver them to your inbox!

Keep exploring Donorbox – don’t forget to check our wide range of effective and donor-friendly features that are designed to help elevate your fundraising efforts!

Sign up to start fundraising in just 15 minutes!

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Are case statements the same thing as cases for support?

Short answer: no! Case statements are outward-facing documents provided to donors, grantmakers, and foundations to encourage donations.

A case for support is a live, internal document used by anyone in your organization to create fundraising materials. Cases for support are constantly updated and reworked to best suit an organization’s fundraising needs.

2. How long should your case for support be?

However long your organization needs it to be. Most organizations will find their case for support to be about 10 pages.

But really it’s up to how much information you need to include in your document for it to serve as a helpful reference tool for your staff, volunteers, and board.

3. Who develops your case for support?

Ideally, a case for support should have input from all over your organization, but certainly from the key leadership. You’ll want to have certain things agreed upon throughout your organization – like a mission statement.

4. Who should have access to your case for support?

Remember that a case for support is an internal tool – not a document for the public to see. It’ll be most useful for your grant writers, marketing and development team, and leadership including the board.

All of them should have access to your case for support, but it is up to you to decide who should get editing permissions.

Lindsey Baker

Lindsey spent years wearing many hats in the nonprofit world. Whether she was helping arts nonprofits with their messaging and content, planning a fundraising gala, writing an NEA grant proposal, or running a membership program with over 400 members, she learned how to navigate – and appreciate! – the fast-paced world of fundraising. Now, she loves sharing those hard-earned lessons with the Donorbox community.

  • linkedin

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.
Join a 30min Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Join a 30min Live Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!