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case for support: who needs them?

A potential client recently contacted me about assisting with a case for support. “Can’t I do this myself?” she asked.

Of course you can. But hiring a professional to develop this very important piece for your nonprofit will provide well-defined, succinct messaging about your organization and programs. It is often the first impression you give a possible donor. A well-written case for support provides a clear and compelling picture of the problem, program, outcomes and financial need. It serves as the basis for all of your individual and institutional asks.

What you get when you hire a professional

You are paying for the expertise of the design and copy-writing, and this is much more affordable than you might think.  In most instances we can get it accomplished under $1000 plus printing, but always depends on the number of revisions it takes to get things perfect. And with today’s digital color printing, you needn’t spend a bundle, printing a few dozen at a time, which gives you the ability to make quick and easy changes if necessary.

If you choose the “do-it-yourself” method, here is an outline for your case for support—

I.    What is the central challenge or problem that you are seeking to address

  • Clarify what you do to address the challenge or problem
  • Differentiate what you want to do from the other organizations with missions similar to yours

II.   Why your organization?

What uniquely qualifies or positions you to address this challenge or problem? To be included in this discussion:

  • Track record
  • Unique skills
  • Unique capacities (staff experience, track record of past accomplishments, key relationships in the community locally and throughout key communities/networks regionally or nationally)

III.  Program summary

What are the essential elements of the program, initiative or campaign? This section should provide a succinct overview while being sufficiently detailed to be clear and non-generic

IV.  Examples of success

Make a case for how your work is having an impact.  As evidence you can provide qualitative and quantitative data, as available; story content that provides specific examples of individuals impacted and the nature of this impact; and third party endorsements.

V.   Financial

Present a functional budget, one in which with sources of revenue and expenses are stated in a donor-friendly format. Functional budgets are organized by key activities rather than by traditional accounting categories. Expense totals should tie to internal financial categories.
How will you sustain your program?
Email me at if you would like to see samples of Cases for Support we have created for our clients.

“She is passionate about serving vulnerable populations. Alisa follows both her passion and nonprofit best practice to help organizations grow.”

Alice Jones

Vice Chair, Daring Adventures

“I certainly appreciate Alisa’s willingness and efforts.”

Mark Jones

Chief Development Officer, Children's Defense Fund

“Interim EDs are not simply board members or staff who sit in the executive director’s seat for a few weeks or months until a new director is found. Interim EDs are highly skilled managers who temporarily take the helm of an organization (four to eight months on average), help the board and staff address important systems and capacity issues, and lay the groundwork for the permanent leader’s success…”

© 2005, The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Annie E Casey Foundation
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Nora Hannah

Chief Executive Officer, Experience Matters