On Second Thought: Use Your Donors to Write the Case

We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: the donor’s perspective is essential to the case for support. When you initiate the preparation of your case, you should involve key members of your organizational family and your best donor prospects in the process. In doing so, you are not only working to identify the unique perspective of your organization through your donor’s eyes, but also maximizing a prime cultivation opportunity.

Lori Overmyer

by Lori Overmyer, Executive V.P.

Remember that the perspective of the development director or chief executive is very likely different from that of the community, and specifically from those who will be asked to contribute significantly to your organization’s future. You will gain a wealth of information about the marketplace perspective through research and speaking directly to your donors when drafting your case. Further, these conversations create the opportunity to authentically engage your board and best prospective donors early in your planning process.

Go out into your community. Conduct interviews and work to ascertain how your organization is viewed externally. The perspective you will gain is more akin to how current and future major donors perceive your organization and its services.

In conducting this research, it is also vitally important to maintain a keen focus on your unique donor constituency. What will be the size of the reading audience of the case for support? How many people comprise your donor constituency? The greater your familiarity with your constituency, the more effectively the case will speak to them as well as for them—and the more precisely it can articulate a vision that will resonate with them and motivate their giving and advocacy.

More often your case for major gifts will comprise a total constituency of several dozen rather than several hundred. In researching and composing the case, we emphasize that it should be written to avoid the lowest common denominator. The major gift donor constituency tends to be more sophisticated and accustomed to a less sensational, more straightforward writing style. We have learned that a clear, concise, and objective document can best be written by a third party, such as a fundraising counsulting firm that has experience writing from the donor’s


click here for pdf version: FRM68

For more on The Case for Support, How it Can Position Your Institution for Success  access Goettler Series Volume 4