As you begin the process of discerning and articulating your organization’s case for funding support, it is important to gather the following information:
- All of your organization’s guiding documents—bylaws, mission and/or vision statements, principles and values, global ends and limitations statements, etc.
- Assemble materials that provide an overview and timeline of the organization’s origins and history to the present time—constituent quotes and testimonials, endorsements, honors, media coverage, and contributions to the wider community.
- Generate a list of present needs—clearly described, including benefits to community and constituents.
- Anticipated needs based on strategic planning processes—strategic plans, goals/objectives, and building/landscaping design plans.
- Gather lists of current donors, past donors, and prospective donors–summarize some typical interests and qualities your donors have in common.
- Outline all sources of funding—membership fees, rental/service fees, grants, major gifts, endowment income, planned gift estimates, government/local funding, individual gift ranges. Include any in kind contributions that provide for operation or event costs—space or equipment use, goods or services.
- Financial overview and current budget—include 3-5 year pro forma budget, balance sheets from past 5+ years, brief summary of current financial status.
Engaging the Dialogue
Once you have all guiding documents and information relevant to funding and development, you can engage a meaningful dialogue among your organization’s leaders, members, constituents, and donors. This begins the process of clarifying and articulating your case for funding support, which is essential for both providing direction for those within the organization and for communication with past, current, and prospective donors.
Begin dialogue with these questions in mind:
- Why should people give to us? (focus on organization’s needs)
- What do we offer our donors? (shifting focus to donor)
- What do our donors want? (focus on donor’s needs)
- What motivates our donors? (focus on donor’s interests)
- How do we want our donors to feel? (focus on donor’s experience of organization)
With the information and input gathered, you will now begin to craft a compelling case…
Expressions of your Case for Funding
You can express your case for funding through a combination of formats, such as the traditional narrative paper, visual presentations (PowerPoint, video, or web-based communications), and case briefs or abstracts. It can be helpful to begin with a written narrative case statement that includes charts, graphics, photographs, and relevant quotes or endorsements. From the longer written version, case information can be distilled and reframed in the other formats appropriate to your constituents and available opportunities.