How prepared is your organization to win community support? The case statement

Why on earth should people give away their hard earned money to support you?  You must have thought through the answer to this question, no matter how modest or monumental your organisation and fundraising goals may be.  This thinking translates into something called a ‘case’.  The French have a phrase ‘raison d’etre’ which sums up the gist of a case.  It means your reason for being - why your organisation exists.  That might be as broad as eliminating world poverty or as focused as giving art opportunities to local children in Yeppoon.

Write this down into a ‘case statement’.  It doesn’t need to be a huge document.  Just answer some basic important questions. 

  • What need were you set up to answer?
  • What specifically do you want to do, and how do you plan to do it? 
  • How will the donors’ money be used to reach this goal? 

Questions to ask yourself

Beyond these basics, you should also ask

  • What makes your organisation stand out. 
  • What is unique about what you are trying to achieve? 
  • And how will you be accountable for the way you use someone else’s money?
  • What will you be giving back to those who invest their time, money or support?

When you think about it, these are the questions you could expect to hear when you ask someone for money, whether that is a company, your neighbour or a government minister.  Put yourself in the donor’s shoes and find the answers yourself first.  Like any investment, people need reassurance and evidence of good management and planning.  Everyone relevant in your organisation should see this case statement.  This helps all parties to start from the same understanding and commit to your ‘case’ for seeking funds. You would be surprised at the different versions of your cause that emerge if it is not all talked through and written down.

This internal document – which again, might be two pages or twenty - may include headings such as:

Mission

Why you exist, what community needs you are filling. Start with the goal of stirring minds rather than the usual jumping off point of ‘Our organisation was formed in July, 1988 ...’
It would be more inspiring to begin with a worthy ambition that sums up what you are on about, whether that is eliminating hunger in your district or offering safe haven for injured wildlife.   Consider for instance the Leukaemia Foundation’s ‘Vision to cure.  Mission to care.’  By way of further examples, the following four mission statements from international charities have been commended for their ability to communicate and motivate.

YMCA

Mission: Improve the mind, body and spirit of the community.

Habitat for Humanity

A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries.

Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill Industries International enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families, and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work.

Horizon Foundation

Horizon Foundation provides a diverse range of services to people with disabilities in SE Queensland.

Mission: creating opportunities for people with disabilities.

Micah Projects

Micah Projects is a not for profit organisation located in several areas around Brisbane inner city which is made up of a number of services in areas of homelessness, mental health and disability, institutional abuse and giving family support. 
Micah’s Vision: Our hope is to create justice and respond to injustice at the personal, social and social and structural levels in church, government, business and society.
This is succinctly expressed on promotional material as “Breaking Social Isolation – Building Community. Creating justice – responding to injustice”

Goals and objectives

Your short and long term directions and how you specifically plan to achieve these aims.  Very specific objectives will give you and your donors direction and some way to measure your success.  For instance, you might use an objective like ‘setting up 10 fully equipped meals kitchens at senior citizens centres in the district by September’.  Remember that objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.  - Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and deadlined to a set Time.

Logistics  

The programs you will run to reach your goals (meals kitchens, nutrition days, collections through schools); the people who will be involved (the Mayor as patron, a board, three volunteer committees and a part-time co-ordinator) and the facilities you will use (office space, food preparation equipment).

Needs statement/budget 

What you need to achieve your mission (20 microwaves) and what it will cost.  You should also outline how much has already been raised (if any) through what sources (governments, corporations, individuals).  Some idea of your strategies for raising funds should also be included here.

Accountability  

How you will measure and report your success.  Given the occasional collapses of some nonprofit organisations, this is essential if your donors are to trust you to administer their donations.  The Giving Australia research (2005) underlined just how common it is for people in the community to believe charities waste money and don’t give enough supporter feedback.

History 

Now you can talk about some of the background to your organisation.  Note that the cause - not your group - must take first place in constructing your case.  While branding and being known are vital, your organisation is simply a conduit to achieving that important community outcome.  You are not asking for money for your organisation.  You are asking for support that will provide safety for a mother and children in an emergency,
This case statement is your master document.  From this bank of information flows all other materials - brochures, circulars, public relations messages, advertising copy, speeches, proposals to government, corporations, foundations and others.

Your people

A case statement is an excellent start but there is more to think about in ‘internal preparation’ - making sure you are ready.  The case statement will prompt a few questions about how you will handle your programs and your donations.  It will also highlight the need for high calibre people at the helm.  Whether yours is a grassroots group of five volunteers or a charity with enough staff to fill a small town, people, at every level of your organisation, are the most crucial part of any cause effort.

The people you enlist to govern the initiative, whether this is a formal board or a group of willing parents, have a big responsibility.  Ideally, this group should be a mixture of people from different walks of life.  Work out your organisation’s needs.  Do you require a volunteer solicitor and an accountant?  Will local business leaders be valuable to your cause?  Are you likely to get some good candidates by advertising?  Who could you ask directly to become involved?  As some wit has suggested, your governing group of volunteers should represent the four ‘w’s - work, wisdom, wealth and wallop.  To put this another way, they should also be prepared to give three ‘t’s  - their time, talent and treasure.

This ‘treasure’ is an important point in fundraising.  If your volunteers do not believe enough in your cause to give, how can they legitimately expect others to do so when they ask them?  Giving time is wonderful but giving money as well is the sort of ringing endorsement that will move others to give.  Make sure that people are aware that you’d like them to consider supporting the organisation’s work.  In seeking leadership volunteers, it is a mistake to play down the involvement needed.  Be honest - if it is a task that will take a concentrated commitment of time for a while, don’t hide that or you will get the wrong person.

Motivating your volunteers

A written description of what you expect of your volunteers at all levels will be useful.  It allows people to judge if they have the time to contribute what you need and it also lets them know you are serious about achieving your goals on behalf of the community.  When we work as volunteers, we are just like employees in that we need to be motivated guided, and know what is expected of us.  Particularly in the nonprofit sphere, when giving our time, it is great to be involved in decisions and to have efforts recognised.  Volunteers give of themselves in a very special way.  Professional organisations - whether they have paid or unpaid leadership - will make time to evaluate their ongoing volunteers, seek their suggestions, and take the trouble to ask how they are enjoying the tasks they are assigned, and whether there are other areas they may prefer to work in.  It is a basic courtesy.

Clearly, your volunteers believe in your cause.  In raising funds, you need to enlist not only these folk but also find others of a like mind.

decorative
The Commonwealth Bank Community Grants program will be awarding $6 million in grants of up to $10,000 each year, for three years, to organisations supporting the wellbeing of Australian youth. To support charities to deliver crucial programs over the longer term, from 2017 onwards, they will be...
decorative
We have launched a brand new course on the Community Door eTraining website which provides an introduction to the social service sector in Queensland for managers and organisations new to the sector. It is free for anyone to access. It features a profile of the sector in Queensland, insights into...
Back by popular demand The State Councils of Social Service (COSS) are partnering to once again deliver a webinar series to uncover what every not-for-profit organisation needs to know about effectively responding to government procurement processes. The webinars will cover: Getting “tender ready”...
Not-for-profit Law has updated its guide to 'The laws of advertising and your community organisation'. The resource provides practical tips to help organisations comply with the laws of advertising and marketing in Australia. Importantly, these laws apply to many fundraising activities of charities...
Perpetual distributes more than $80 million annually to non-profit organisations on behalf of charitable trusts and endowments. Non-profit organisations can apply for funding through their annual granting program – the IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program . Organisations can apply for up to $200...
Wesley Mission Queensland’s Campaign for Change is looking for the state’s best and brightest innovators. Campaign for Change is a chance for you to make your bright ideas a reality and to make a real difference in your local community. This year Wesley Mission Queensland, with the support of the...
Treasurer Curtis Pitt has outlined three shortlisted proponents seeking to deliver innovative services under the state government’s Social Benefit Bonds program . Mr Pitt said there had been strong interest in the pilot Social Benefit Bonds initiative that will involve investors, the social...
Google believes technology can make a better world, faster. The Google Impact Challenge supports non-profit innovators using technology to tackle the world's biggest social challenges. Google will award $4.5 million across 10 Australian organisations to help bring their ideas to life. Four winning...
The Federal Department of Social Services recently commissioned a research report to better understand volunteering and giving within culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and Indigenous communities. The research provides some insights and case stories, highlighting the valuable contribution...
In 2016, The Smith Family received important funding from the Queensland Government which has enabled it to expand its existing Learning for Life Tertiary Scholarship Scheme and create the Care2Achieve Scholarship for Young Women Leaving Care . The Care2Achieve Scholarship is for young women moving...

Pages

Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) has been established to provide tailored finance to social enterprises on commercial terms together with targeted business advice and support. Fundamental to this is a commitment to helping clients build their capacity to manage debt and become financially...
Foresters Community Finance is a non-profit organisation that has been delivering community finance and social investment products in Australia for the past 20 years. It is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI). CDFI’s are socially focused organisations that use community finance and...
Not-for-profit Law's guide to 'The laws of advertising and your community organisation' provides practical tips to help organisations comply with the laws of advertising and marketing in Australia. Importantly, these laws apply to many fundraising activities of charities and not-for-profits. The...
In the first reading of the 2015 Queensland Budget Speech on 14 July 2015, Treasurer Pitt announced that the Queensland Government will pilot 3 social benefit bonds aimed at sourcing funds from the private sector to finance the achievement of quantifiable social outcomes in the community. The pilot...
The Community Resource Handbooks were launched by Volunteering Queensland on 12 May 2015. They consolidate the knowledge gained through Volunteering Queensland's community leadership work with more than 2,000 community groups over the past fifteen years. The handbooks are aimed at small to medium...
An inaugural benchmarking survey draws together insights from over 100 survey respondents on topics such as governance, strategy, fundraising, risk management and the use of volunteer and professional resources. The survey results highlight that many not-for-profit organisations rely heavily on...
The Community Financial Centre has been established by Our Community to give not-for-profit organisations of all types and sizes access to tools and resources to help improve their financial management, and better and more cost effective banking services. The site covers managing money,...
Based on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilising mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising...
All special fund-raising events are different. Each have their own special set of circumstances and requirements. ourcommunity.com.au's event management team has pooled their many years of experience to create a fund-raising event checklist to help you get started on your planning journey. This...
The Tasmanian Government together with Regional Development Australia and the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation have published a useful guide on the fundamentals of grant writing . Grants enable organisations businesses to: • effect change • build community capacity • purchase things for your...
In March 2014, QCOSS produced the Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Community Services report, in which community organisations from Queensland share how they are working to increase their financial sustainability. The strategies they employ include social enterprise,...
The Grantseeker Manual is a comprehensive toolkit prepared by Community Builders NSW. It is a starter kit to introduce you to the basics of grantseeking, designed to support small to medium sized NGOs that may not currently have the capacity or resources to undertake effective grant seeking...

Pages

The Womens Centre Cairns is a proudly feminist not-for-profit organisation that provides services to women and children at risk of domestic violence and homelessness. Drawing funding from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and Department of Housing and Public...

Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

You have by now no doubt heard of the incredible success of the new game, Pokémon Go. And even if you haven't, you have probably noticed a marked increase in people roaming around parks, shopping centres and other public areas, intent on their smartphones.

The new mobile app allows users...

Author: 
The Social Benefit Bond Program, Queensland Treasury

The competitive tender process for the Queensland government's new Social Benefit Bonds program has recently been launched, and the Invitation for Expressions of Interest (EOI) documents are available via...

Balancing people and money
Author: 
Linda Hayes, Corporate Synergies Australia

There is a growing expectation for organisations to be able to quote the Unit Cost of every service, activity, output and outcome of each program, for each individual, to each government department.  This is already a requirement for child care and aged care, and will be introduced into the...

""
Author: 
Darren Smith, Breaking New Ground

A new chapter in the story of the not-for-profit sector is being drafted. How do small to medium organisations ensure they're written into the script?

The not-for-profit sector has already experienced significant change and uncertainty over the last few years:

  • funding
  • ...
Effective communication
Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

The University of Western Sydney, in collaboration with the Western Sydney Community Forum, have developed a resource handbook titled “Developing a Common Language between...

Donate
Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has developed a detailed and easy to use resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations in applying for endorsement as a...

Boy with an image of a house
Author: 
Helen Styles, Queensland Council of Social Service

Homelessness is a problem too complex to be tackled by only the community services sector and government departments. It needs the combined efforts of the private, public and community sectors because a diverse range of people and organisations are better able to address the diverse and...

Grants
Author: 
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

The Grantseeker Manual is a comprehensive toolkit prepared by Community Builders NSW. It is a starter kit to introduce you to the basics of grantseeking, designed to support small to medium...

Report
Author: 
Anne Curson, Queensland Council of Social Service

This month QCOSS releases the Rethinking Resources: Case Studies of Financial Resilience from Community Services report, in which community organisations from Queensland share how they are working to increase...

Pages

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print