Do I really need a case for support?

by Laura Phipps - 3 August 2023


Communications expert and More Partner, Laura Phipps explores whether it’s essential to have a case for support and when they can bring most value.

As someone who loves telling stories, I strongly believe that a succinct yet compelling case for support is at the heart of effective fundraising. It's not a new concept, and over the years, we at More Partnership have seen how it’s helped hundreds of charities, schools, universities, and cultural organisations to connect with donors and make a difference.

In recent months, we’ve been helping organisations like the National Trust, parkrun, INSERM and Alzheimer’s Research UK work on their case for support.

But is it really necessary for every organisation?

A case for support is simply a set of messages that tell donors why and how they can make a difference through your organisation. It's about consistency and credibility, ensuring that every touchpoint with your organisation tells the same story about your cause. While a written case should never replace face-to-face conversations, its messages should enrich those conversations and make it easier for donors to make informed decisions about giving.

Some organisations naturally have a common set of messages that show donors why and how they can make a difference, especially smaller charities with a focused remit or fundraising teams with very engaged leaders and champions. However, for others, developing and refining a case for support can bring significant value.

So, is knowing your fundraising narrative essential? Yes, but how you articulate it may vary.

“Spot on – I felt energised and it gave me hope.”
Donor response to a case for support
ALU School of Wildlife Conservation

One size doesn't fit all
I'm a strong advocate for having something written down, even if everyone knows the party line. I’ve seen times when a new face has joined an organisation and the consistency is lost.

A case for support can take various forms. From an internal document to a donor-facing one, and from a Word document to a short video, animation, or webpage. The key is to ensure that your case for support, in whatever format, meets both your institutional needs and those of your donors.

How do I know if I need one?
I often see the same challenges crop up in organisations that need to work on their case for support. Tell-tale signs include:

  • Difficulty in engaging donors despite a strong cause.

  • The need to secure support for a new strategy or direction.

  • Leadership struggling to make a consistent case to donors in meetings.

  • Fundraisers unsure what they're asking donors to support or why.

  • Donors unclear about what they're being asked to support or why.

It’s the journey as well as the destination
In my experience, the process of developing a case for support can be as valuable as the final product.

It draws in ideas and expertise from across your organisation, stress-tests your donor narrative, raises questions about priorities, helps colleagues understand how they can support fundraising, and focuses everyone's minds on providing the best donor experience.

I saw this first-hand with Asthma + Lung UK, where working together on their case gave senior leadership space to discuss and agree organisational philanthropic priorities. The process of defining projects for the case enabled fundraisers to have more focused donor conversations and supported strategic decisions about where to commit time, energy and resource. A win, win.

Getting the timing right
If you already have consistent messaging, clear propositions, happy fundraisers, and engaged donors, I’d say you’re on safe ground. But remember that a truly effective case for support evolves with your organisation. It needs constantly updating, tweaking, and refining as you test it with donors and understand their motivations and interests. So it never hurts to take another look.

That said, I’d recommend waiting to work on your case if your organisation is undergoing changes in focus, strategy, brand, or leadership. It's important to ensure your case for support aligns with everything else your organisation is doing and saying, so let the dust settle on these first.

“It’s exciting and well framed. When you see the opportunity, you feel proud to be part of the adventure.”
Donor response to a case for support
University of Luxembourg

Can one case for support speak to all donors?
This is a question we're actively exploring in our client work at the moment.

It's helpful to have one overarching narrative, but on the understanding you’ll need to adapt, tailor, and expand it depending on the target audience. For a high-value audience, you’ll need a handful of key projects in need of transformational funding ready to be tested with donors in a feasibility study or sounding exercise. We’ve just completed this for the University of Luxembourg, as they prioritise and test propositions across education and research.

For a mass audience, it may mean focusing on one area of your case, like student support, and delving more deeply into what a donor could fund and why. We’ve been working with Imperial College London to strengthen their messaging for legacy and mid-value audiences, deepening the case with practical messaging guides to equip fundraisers.

Taking the next step
In conclusion, a compelling case for support is a powerful tool for effective fundraising. While it may not be necessary for every organisation, it can bring significant value when developed and refined thoughtfully. It's about consistency, credibility, and alignment with your organisation's overall messaging and strategy.

Just be clear about what you need, why you need it and who it’s for. From there, your next steps forward should become clear.

At More Partnership, we can help you craft your case for support by bringing our practical experience of fundraising and our ability to represent the donor – their motivations, likely challenges and questions, potential resistance and opportunities.

Get in touch at lphipps@morepartnership.com.