Your case for support (sometimes just called ‘case’) is a succinct and powerful statement which describes the difference your work or your organization makes. It should be developed with an understanding of what motivates donors.
Ideally, this statement uses language that arouses emotion, reinforces the values of your supporters and inspires people to become involved or to deepen their engagement. At the same time, it should include concise, accurate information about your organization and your work.
Your case for support forms the base for developing specific approaches to donors or groups of donors (segments).
There are three parts to your case for support:
- you or your organization’s profile, including specific project(s) or activities;
- the value of your work or your organization to the community;
- the difference the gift would make.
This is the summary of your project or your organization. You are describing:
- who you are;
- what you do;
- where and when you operate;
- who you work with; and
how you do your work.
How you arrange this information is up to you but the following is a useful checklist. Your profile shouldn’t be more than about a page in length and must use language that’s easy to understand.
- Legal structure: incorporation, non-profit company, association, collective, independent artist, or other. Do you have non-profit cooperative or organization status?
- Background: give your history; list your board members, successful programs and services, past achievements, awards, or highlights. Do you have or can you gather testimonials?
- Organization’s mission, purpose and/or values: organizations must elaborate on each of these themes; if you’re an individual artist, you could simply describe the purpose behind your practice and what you wish to achieve or explore.
- Area of arts practice: donors are not always familiar with arts jargon - “new media installations” may be better described as “artworks using digital and electronic technology.” What is the nature of your organization, e.g. community-based, regional, national, international?
- Your audience, members or subscribers, volunteers, loyal partners: it’s particularly valuable to include as much detail as possible. Who is in your database, attends your shows, participates in activities or other events, receives your newsletter? What do you know about their age, gender, interests, social status, household income, geographical location, etc?
- Financial position: what income do you earn from sales of tickets, products or services? What funding do you receive? Who sponsors or partners you? What other income do you receive? What is the general financial health of your organization or practice? Who are your donors?
- Human resources: what staff do you have, do you use volunteers, do you employ local people, do you host visiting artists, etc.? What other resources do you have?
"Connect with donors - a guide for the arts to build relationships with donors", Australia Business Arts Foundation, 2012