This is Part 4 of a series I’m writing on capital campaign readiness. In Part 1, I started at the beginning, by asking: What is a capital campaign, and when do you need one? In Part 2, I discussed the infrastructure that will be needed for your campaign. In Part 3, I discussed human resources needed to support your campaign. In today’s installment, I introduce you to developing your organization’s case statement, in other words, telling your story! I’ll continue the discussion of case for support in Part 5, as well.
Developing Your Case Statement for Your Capital Campaign—Telling Your Story
One of the first steps in ensuring capital campaign readiness is to develop a case for support. All organizations should have a case for support for their organization but if your organization has not yet developed an organizational case for support, the campaign is the perfect opportunity to develop the organizational case for support from which the campaign case statement will be developed. If there is an organizational case for support in place, this will form the basis of the campaign case statement. This is the first essential ingredient in effectively communicating the organization’s needs to its constituents.
A preliminary case for support needs to be developed before the planning study is begun. Consultants will need a written piece of information that outlines the organization’s programs and the needs that will be addressed in this campaign to share with the people being interviewed. The preliminary case statement will then be refined during the study before being translated into a final case statement for the campaign. Some of the key ingredients that will be in the case for support include:
- Current Programs & Services
- List of Board and Staff
- Financial Information
- Need for Future Growth
- Plan for Addressing These Needs
- Opportunities for the Donor to Participate in the Vision
Readers of the case will want to know the mission and vision of your organization, what does the organization do, where is it headed, what are its values, and why it is important to the community.
The history of your organization is important, especially to the degree that you can show a track record of success. Most donors will not want to support a project unless they know your organization can deliver what it promises. When an organization can demonstrate it has successfully provided programs and has evaluated its success, donors are motivated to be a part of its future success.
The organizational case for support should outline all your programs and services in detail. The campaign case statement will focus on the programs and services that will be involved in this project. For example if a college is raising money for a new performing arts center, they would want to focus the need for expanded programs in this area, the potential audiences for these programs, and the benefit to the students and community of this new center.
Additional items that need to be included in the case are a list of board and staff. Knowing that the governance of your organization is in the hands of well-known and respected community leaders will assure the reader that the organization is governed by people that have the abilities to monitor organization progress and assure that its programs serve the mission of the organization. Likewise, a staff that has the credentials to run the programs is important. Also a sound financial picture must be presented. Donors will not want to support a “sinking ship.” In the campaign case statement, well thought out projections of the financing to build the project will be important.
There must be a clear need for this project, not related to your organization alone, but to the community of which the donor is part. And there must be a logical plan for addressing these needs. Occasionally an organization will do a planning study to determine the community’s take on several plans but you should have a clear idea of your needs and how you plan to address those needs. You cannot go to the public and say, “we think we need more space” without showing that you have evaluated several options and chosen one or two that make the most sense.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when developing the case for support is that it should always be written from the donor’s point of view, not your organization’s need. What’s in it for the donor? How can the donor become involved? There should be various options for donor’s investment in the project—named giving opportunities, pledges over a period of years, planned giving opportunities, matching gifts. And donor benefits should be spelled out. Remember that to be compelling a case statement needs to have a sense of urgency, but should never appear “desperate.” Remember too, that the case needs to have both emotional and rational reasons for the donor to give. The donor will be drawn in first by emotion, but before writing a check or signing a pledge card, donors will want to be assured that this plan has been carefully thought out and this it will work.