Now What? Finishing Your Case for Support (Part 4)
In the last post, I guided you through the exercise of filling in the blanks for your cause, organization, impact, and invitation. Now, try to combine those four statements. They may still need work, but I hope you’re getting the idea. Filling in those blanks and fleshing out the sentences provides the backbone for a good case for support. Here are a couple of examples of what it looks like when you pull it all together.
Let’s take a look at a ministry that provides school meals for schoolchildren.
Every day, children in our community are struggling in school because they haven’t had enough to eat. (Cause) Fresh Start Ministries is really a group of champions who serve these kids in Grant County by providing fresh, nutritious meals seven days a week. (Organization) Since Fresh Start began in 2012, the test scores of the kids we serve have gone up by 30%. But we aren’t done! We want to completely eliminate the score gap between these kids and their peers. (Impact) We believe God calls us all to care for the “widows and orphans in their distress,” and that these children are the “widows and orphans” of our community. You can join this work by volunteering to pack and serve meals, and by making donations of cash or food. (Invitation)
What about a cause that’s a little more complex? Let’s try this out with another cause: pastoral education in Ecuador.
Every day, Christians in Ecuador are targeted by cults seeking to distort their beliefs, and their leaders aren’t trained or equipped to combat this. (Cause) The Christian Education Fund is a network of churches and individual Christians who provide these believers with the tools they need to discern false teaching and win hearts for Christ. (Organization) Since first beginning this work in Ecuador in 2007, 1,300 pastors have received basic apologetics training, and 3,000 have received video and print resources. Now, many of these pastors are clamoring for more training. (Impact) The Great Commission compels us to make disciples. In Ecuador, making disciples requires pastors to be trained and equipped to address false teaching. You can join this network by providing Bibles and funds to develop and deliver materials and training. (Invitation)
Hopefully, that gives you a good idea of how to pull it all together. But now that you have these bare-bones answers, what do you do next? First, work with your team to refine your case. Rally your staff, supporters, and maybe even a peer agency. Don’t do this by yourself at midnight—bring other people along.
Second, practice, practice, practice! I used to have a professor who said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Practice telling your story, including your past, present, and future. Why are you here? What do you hope to accomplish today? What about in the future? More importantly, how can your community get involved in the story? As you practice, you’ll get better at telling your story. It should be very natural, because it’s coming out of your heart and your calling.
One indicator of whether you’re confident in your case is your consistency. How often are you using your case in your communications? Do you feel the need to make a different case on your website than you do in your letters or your annual report? Once you’ve done the work of refining your case, you can really begin the work of testing it in all of the media you use.
Finally, remember that your donors will never be more confident in their giving than you are in your case. That’s why this matters. I want to encourage you to believe in yourself. When you do, donors will believe in you, too. But when there’s doubt, hesitancy, or lack of clarity, your donors will hesitate in their giving. If you are experiencing that today, I simply encourage you to move through this process to build your own confidence. When you do, you’ll be able to lead your donors confidently. They will know that you know what’s right and appropriate in the context of your cause, that you are the organization God made you to be, and that you’re inviting them into the impact you’re going to have.
Check out this webinar, in which John Savage and Amy Karjala of the Mission Increase Foundation discuss building your case for support.