two women and a man having a discussion in a conference room

Making a Persuasive Case

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).

Have you ever agonized over finding just the right words, phrases, or tag line for your fundraising materials? A case for support is your major donor tool to express your need and how your donors can help meet that need. We wordsmith every sentence to be as compelling as possible hoping to unlock our donors’ hearts and minds. You need a case statement for all your fundraising campaigns like the annual appeal, major gift campaigns, capital, and endowment campaigns. Fresh graphic design, great photos, infographics, and clean typefaces are all important, but your case statement must answer six key questions.

What is the need?

Needs come in all shapes and sizes. What specific need are you trying to solve? If you need a building, focus on what will happen inside the building. Sometimes we try to solve all our problems in one campaign, but it can be overwhelming to donors. Make the need manageable so that donors feel they can make a difference.

Is this need urgent?

Urgency is a key decision-making factor. Some causes are inherently urgent—providing clean water, feeding widows and orphans, and evangelizing the lost. If your need doesn’t seem urgent to you, it won’t seem urgent to your donors. Find ways to express your compelling arguments in simple terms.

How will your ministry meet this need?

We love talking about ourselves. Sometimes, we communicate that we have all the answers and donors just help us accomplish our goals. Write less about your organization and focus more on those you serve and how your donors are ministry partners in providing the solution.

Whom will be impacted?

Your case for support is not just a laundry list of projects you hope to accomplish. Effective case statements share facts and evidence but must tug at the heart. Donors make giving decisions with their minds and hearts. Stories are the most effective way to communicate whom your fundraising campaign will help.

What will happen if you fail?

Whom won’t be helped if you are unable to raise these funds? What key programs will be limited? What opportunities will be missed if your donors don’t participate? We like to think failure is not an option, but if your supporters don’t give sacrificially, failure is a possibility.

How can your donor get involved?

Use donor-centric phrases to call your donors to action, such as: “This significant project will only happen because of your generous support,” or “A better future is possible for our students, because of you,” or “Your gift will provide even more meaningful experiences to our current and future students.”

Think About This: You can say all the right fundraising words to persuade your donors and still not motivate them to give. Paul didn’t rely on wise and persuasive words, instead he relied on the Spirit’s power. The greatest case for support you could ever make is to share stories of how the Spirit is working through your ministry to change lives for eternity.

Response: Father, please accomplish your will through our ministry. May the Spirit demonstrate his power in our lives and those we serve.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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