The Case for Support


The Case For Support       

In fundraising a key strategic consideration is the Case For Support. This is the formal expression of the cause and why it warrants support. It has to be well articulated and capable of being thoroughly understood by all a nonprofit’s donors.  It typically communicates:

  • mission and values
  • importance and urgency
  • specific objectives
  • history and credibility
  • what would happen if the organisation failed
  • how the donor can help

As Ted Bayley notes, the case for fundraising,

“should aim high, provide perspective, arouse a sense of history and continuity, convey a feeling of importance, relevance, and urgency, and have whatever stuff is needed to warm the heart and stir the mind.”

Bayley (1987, p22)


The case for support for the Open University is depicted below:

The Open University (OU) is an extraordinary university with an extraordinary history. It changed the face of British education and led the way in the world for open and distance learning. To date it has over two million alumni and now has a student population of over two hundred thousand.


The OU is recognised for its abilities and achievements in many areas. Our research is at the leading-edge in a range of disciplines ranging from art and design to planetary science. We are immensely proud of being recently awarded the highest mark in the UK in the National Student Survey of students’ university experience, scoring 4.5 out of a possible 5.


We believe in the power of higher education to promote economic development, transform society and improve the quality of life for all citizens.


We also believe that unless lifelong learning is made available to more of the world’s population, the human and economic benefits of rapid communications and global markets will remain limited to the few.


Our vision is to provide high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential. We have the experience, the expertise and the will to do it. Now, we need your support.

Reproduced By Kind Permission of the Open University


Typically organizations write an organizational case for support and then tailor this to match the needs of specific segments of funders, specific campaigns or even individual donors if major gifts are being solicited. These tailored versions of the case are known as Case Statements. Many major gift fundraisers write a separate case statement for every one of their contacts. At the very least an organization is likely to have a separate statement for individuals, corporates and grant makers (Seiler 2001).

One of the difficulties in this realm of fundraising, as in so many others, is that different authors use terminology in different ways. Fundraising guru, Tom Ahern, outlines four types of cases:

1. The internal case, where talking points for donors and prospects are collected and stored. It’s an internal source document, so it doesn’t have to be professionally printed and presented.

2. The general case, which has two functions: to concisely illustrate why the non-profit’s mission is important and to make clear the necessary support of donors.

3. The feasibility or draft case, which is the “unfinished” version of the public case. Fundraisers show this case to top prospects to get their feedback and buy-in (and lead gifts during campaign quiet phases). Remember the old fundraising adage ask for money and get advice; ask for advice and get money.

4. The public case, which is used by fundraising staff and volunteers making personal visits as well as in much broader outreach such as targeted mailings.

These four types of cases are actually outputs at different points in the case writing process and for different fundraising uses.

Below we provide two additional sets of resources. The first focuses on advice in respect of how to write a fundraising case for support. The second offers a series of examples


How To Write A Case For Support

The Capital Venture website offers a series of resources authored by fundraising writer Linda Lysakowski.

The website of the Association of Fundraising Professionals offers guidance on the preparation of the case for support.

Brian Smith, of Custom Development Solutions, Inc also offers some excellent advice here.


Example Cases



Recommended Reading


Test your knowledge with our Quiz: Case for Support

If you call yourself Save the Whales, every once in awhile you have to save a whale.

Tom Ahern