The Mikuska Group  

The case for support – it’s not about you

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a case for support is not only for capital campaigns. Your case is critical to your annual appeal, planned giving program, and corporate and foundation giving.

Think about it – if you haven’t articulated a persuasive case for support, how can you approach your potential donors? If you don’t know what they need from you so they can say yes, then you’re likely to fail in your request.

One of the gurus of the art and science of the case for support is Tom Ahern. His book, Seeing Through A Donor’s Eyes: How to Make a Persuasive Case for Everything from your Annual Drive to your Planned Giving Program to your Capital Campaign, is a must-read and must-follow for making your case.

Who needs the case for support? Everyone in your organization. It allows everyone to sing from the same songsheet, with the same words. It’s your key messages all in one document. It’s your go-to place for media releases, website, direct mail, planned giving, speeches and op-ed pieces.

According to Tom and observed in our own experience, the three most important questions for getting to the essence of your case are:

  1.  Why us? (What are you doing that’s so uniquely wonderful that the world should want more of it and support your mission and vision?)
  2.  Why now? (What’s the big hurry? What changed? Why is this crucial now? Why can’t it wait?)
  3.  Why you, the donor, might care? (Why are donors critical to your mission? Have you made them the heroes? What are your emotional triggers? What is the philanthropic opportunity you have to offer? What part of the world will the donor save or change through you?)

If you just work through the first  question, you haven’t involved the donor. If you leave out the second question, there’s no urgency to respond. And if you don’t answer the third question, you’ll never discover what will motivate your donors and they’ll feel free not to respond.

Working through this process has a profound effect on how you view donors. Because at the heart of it is the realization that it’s just not about you. It’s about the donor, and about what moves them to help you solve problems in the world.

Julie Mikuska.


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