Your Case for Support: The Four Steps (Part 2)

In my last post, I explained what a case study is and challenged you to examine the messages you’re currently sending. I also talked about several transformational giving principles to counteract those unproductive messages.

Now let’s take a deeper look at building a case for support that reflects God’s character and intent. What does that look like? As is often the case, much of the work of designing your case for support happens before you actually sit down and write. The process includes four steps:

Step 1: Know your cause.

Step 2: Know your organization.

Step 3: Know what God asks of his people.

Step 4: Build your case for support.

Step 1: Know your cause.

What problem are you trying to solve? Let’s say you’re in a community that has seen a sharp increase in high school dropout rates. What factors are creating this need? Is there an increase in addictions? Is there nothing productive for students to do after school? Did some kind of extracurricular program get cut? These are the types of community factors that could create this need.

Next, ask these questions: How many people are affected by this issue? How many kids? How many families? What does that mean for the community, both currently and long-term?

Then move on to a different line of questioning: Who else is doing this kind of work, and how do we coordinate with them? Are there other programs like this? What is the school already doing, and how can we be part of that? Are there Boys & Girls Clubs already doing something? The point is that before you design a case statement, you have to know your cause. When it gets right down to it, knowing your cause is knowing why you’re doing something in the first place.

This step can also be rephrased in two questions: “So what?” and “Who cares?” If you can communicate the answers to these questions, essentially why you are doing what you’re doing and why anyone else should support you, then you know your cause.

Every ministry I can think of is impacting people. Your donors care about certain groups of people and situations. As you move into constructing your case for support, the “Why?” piece is foundational. You must spend time reflecting on it and convincing yourself before trying to convince your donors. The rest of your work flows from this foundation.

Step 2: Know your organization.

What does your ministry do in the cause? What will be different and/or better in the world if you succeed? Why do you do it the way you do? How many people do you serve? How do you demonstrate your impact?

You have been called to stand in the gap around a cause, but in most cases, so have others. You are one of the many organizations seeking to serve in your arena. Consequently, donors may ask, “What does your ministry do in this cause?” We know that most of our donors are giving to multiple ministries, and some of them may be giving to similar ministries. They are going to ask this question, so you need to know the answer. What are you doing in the wide realm of your cause? How are you unique? What will be different or better in the world as a result of your unique contribution as an organization?

With so much need in the world today, I’m rarely going to tell an organization not to set up shop and go make a difference. You need to be there, doing what you’re doing. But what uniqueness has God put into you that you can own and embrace, that you can convey to others without being apologetic or competitive? Ephesians 4 lays out the Body ministry. He’s made all of us differently, even within the realm of a similar cause. You should affirm your own uniqueness and proclaim it to others.

How many people do you serve? This is the qualitative and quantitative evidence that you really are making a difference. It may be easy for us to see because we’re in the thick of ministry and feeling the Holy Spirit moving and changing lives. But for someone who’s not intimately involved in day-to-day operations, we need to present objective evidence that we really are making an impact. Wrestling with this step is a key element in building your case for support.

Step 3: Know what God asks of his people.

What does the Bible say about this cause? How does God call people to connect with this cause? Why did God ask you to be in this ministry and stand in this gap? Why is God inviting your donors, volunteers, and supporters to stand in the gap?

My fundamental belief is that your job as a ministry is to build a community, a place and a space, where folks can come and serve and be served, to give and to take, where all needs and resources come together. When we have this biblical perspective, it gives people comfort that they’re in the right place serving with your ministry.

One of the things to look at is how God calls people to look at your specific organization and cause. One of the things you can be thinking about is all the different ways that people connect with you today—your “avenues of opportunity.” What are those paths? There isn’t just one way, and part of your role is to create these opportunities, which really become a blessing to people who give, volunteer, and invest.

Step 4: Build your case for support.

Having looked at the three “building block” steps, next up is actually building your case for support. I’ll dive into that process in my next post.

Check out this webinar, in which John Savage and Amy Karjala of the Mission Increase Foundation discuss building your case for support.

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