Learn how to develop and use a winning fundraising case for support.

The Art of Persuasion: How to Build a Case for Support

Convincing an audience to take any kind of action requires making an effective pitch. Nonprofits know this all too well. When you rely on people’s donated support to push your work forward, you must be able to confidently explain to your donors what you need, why, and what the benefit will be.

A nonprofit case for support is at the root of how you make a compelling pitch to donors. It’s an essential part of running fundraising campaigns and effectively communicating your mission.

What’s more, a case for support can (and should) be an active tool for better fundraising—not just a pre-campaign task to get out of the way, but a real asset that will fuel your success.

So how do you create one? What should your case for support contain? What mistakes should you avoid? We’ve got you covered. This crash course will cover all the essentials, including:

Learn how 360MatchPro can help you raise more and make more compelling pitches to donors.

Nonprofit Case for Support FAQs

Let’s start by establishing some context:

The definition of "Case for support," detailed in the text below

What is a case for support?

A nonprofit case for support is the core set of reasons why donors should support a particular campaign, project, or organization’s work as a whole. It’s a fundamental fundraising framework or concept on which you can build your campaigns.

Cases can be developed for a wide variety of contexts and audiences, making them extremely flexible tools to guide the fundraising process in any situation. They essentially seek to answer the questions, “Why should someone care, and what are we asking them to do?”

It’s important to note that while this term is often used to describe a tangible document or other resource, the underlying set of arguments themselves comprise the case for support. We’ll take a look at some examples below.

While a case will be distilled into various printed and digital resources during a fundraising campaign, overly fixating on a specific document can ultimately limit a nonprofit’s vision and the overall effectiveness of its case.

Why are cases for support important?

Cases for support give your fundraising team a clear roadmap and talking points to use when promoting your campaigns or overall mission to donors.

When created and used well, a case for support will standardize your messaging and ensure that you communicate a clear, unified, and compelling vision to potential supporters. Then, with the scaffolding in place, your team can use it to create tailored variations, individualized pitches, and all kinds of helpful resources that will support the overall vision of your fundraising campaign.

When do nonprofits create and use cases for support?

Nonprofits develop cases for support in a range of different situations. They might be created to support:

They’re most commonly discussed in the context of capital campaigns as a critical early step in the campaign planning process.

But note that you’ll benefit from a case for support in any situation in which your team will need to make a clear pitch to donors to solicit support. As long as you understand what a case for support is and what it should accomplish, you can use its framework to support your goals.

Who in a nonprofit should create a case for support?

A case for support should be created by the fundraising or development team that will be directly involved in running that particular campaign. An overarching case for support for the organization’s work as a whole should also be owned by the fundraising team.

However, the overall development process should be collaborative. Gathering input and suggestions is an important part of developing a compelling case. Many organizations also seek the direct input of major donors when crafting their cases. Plus, you’ll usually need to secure leadership buy-in on the finalized case for support.

Essential Elements of an Effective Case for Support

A compelling case for support should cover a few essentials. By including these core talking points or sections, you’ll ensure that your team has the strong framework they need to make an effective fundraising pitch.

The elements of a nonprofit case for support, detailed in the text below

  • Objective. What will your campaign accomplish? Why are you fundraising? Be as specific as possible—concrete objectives will always be more compelling than vague or intangible ones because they allow donors to envision the real impact of success.
  • Fundraising goal. How much money are you seeking to raise to fund your objective? Again, specificity is key. Spell out your needs so that your team can better articulate them to prospects.
  • Connection to mission. Your mission should be clearly visible through all of your fundraising efforts. Even if it seems self-evident, take the time to define the exact ways that completing your objective will push your nonprofit’s mission forward.
  • The problem. What is the context behind your objective, or what problem are you intending to solve or alleviate? What steps have you taken to combat it in the past?
  • The impact. What will the impact of your success be in concrete terms? Projecting impact can be tricky, but it’s always worth doing. Think about how you’ll measure the success of your objective in relation to your mission and use those metrics or key performance indicators to help determine some concrete impact projections.
  • Call to action. Spur your prospective donor to action. Again, clearly spell out the relationship between your mission, objective, goal, needs, and impact.

You might think that these key talking points might sound like the sections of a grant proposal, and you’re not wrong.

However, keep in mind that, unlike a grant proposal, a case for support can be more flexible and adapted to your specific goals. There’s no one specific format to follow—this will be shaped by the specific fundraising context once you’ve established the core set of arguments and details listed above.

Learn how 360MatchPro can help you raise more and make more compelling pitches to donors.

Developing a Case for Support: 9 Steps

You’re ready to develop your next case for support and drive your best fundraising results yet. How do you get started? We break it down into these key steps:

The steps for creating a nonprofit case for support, explained in the text below

  1. Form a team. A small group of fundraisers or development staff should oversee the case development process. Depending on the purpose or scope of the fundraising campaign, however, you may want to proactively involve a board member or other organizational leader. Organization-wide or capital campaign cases for support are instances when getting a broader leadership perspective early will be helpful.
  2. Determine your case for support guidelines. What’s the context for this case for support? Is it for a particular campaign or initiative? Align your team on the context and purpose.
  3. Draft your key elements. Work through the list of key elements of a case for support above and draft a few sentences for each. Brevity is key—a handful of highly impactful sentences will carry much more weight than rambling paragraphs. Besides, at this stage, you’re seeking to create a framework, not a completed structure!
  4. Ensure coherence. Read your preliminary case for support closely to ensure that it clearly ties back to your organization’s mission. Do the key points you’ve made align with how the campaign is being discussed internally? Are there more compelling talking points or impact details that you might be able to provide?
  5. Review and revise. Take some time as a team to review what you’ve developed. Proofread and look for weak spots in your argument where your claims or calls to action could be better supported. Make quick revisions as needed, but don’t get too bogged down in creating the perfect finished product just yet.
  6. Test and refine. Next, seek feedback outside of your case for support committee. Other fundraisers, marketers, and leaders in your organization may have helpful perspectives. If you’re developing a case for support for a capital campaign, this is when you’ll gather direct donor feedback through a feasibility study. Make adjustments to your case and campaign plans as needed to ensure your strategy and argument are set up to succeed.
  7. Secure buy-in. Present your finalized case for support to organizational and/or campaign leadership as needed. Get their feedback and approval to move forward with using the case as the basis for your fundraising messaging going forward.
  8. Save and share. Save your case for support in a central, accessible digital location. Then, publicize it to your broader fundraising and marketing teams.
  9. Distill into campaign materials. Over time, as your fundraising campaign progresses into new stages that target different audiences, use your case for support to guide the messaging in new campaign materials. Brochures, email appeals, letters, texts—everything related to your campaign or this particular fundraising push should be part of a coherent whole.

Expert Tips for a More Compelling Case for Support

Now that you understand the process and purpose of creating a case for support for your campaign, what are the tactical tips to keep in mind when actually drafting it? We’ve got some recommendations.

1. Make it impact-centric.

Your case for support should revolve around the positive impacts of your success. This is the ultimate reason for the campaign and its objective, so there should be a crystal-clear throughline from the ask to the objective to the impact.

Not only will this ensure coherent, compelling messaging across your campaign later, but it’s also increasingly thought of as a prerequisite by many donors. If donors are unclear on what exactly will happen with their gift and how it will go towards the problem at hand, it’ll be harder to secure their support. In fact, younger generations are much more likely to say they will not donate if they’re unsure what the charity will do with the money (37.8% of Gen Z donors vs. 15.2% of Mature age donors).

2. Gather compelling storytelling details.

While your core case for support should be concise, aim to embed compelling storytelling elements that will help make the ask and impact real to your donors. Help them understand and feel the urgency surrounding the problem that your campaign’s objective will solve.

While preparing a case for support, gather a range of storytelling details that you can use later when developing more fleshed-out and tailored variations for your campaign marketing materials. These could include:

  • Anecdotes and testimonials from constituents and donors (with their permission)
  • Photos of your nonprofit’s programs at work
  • Data to support your claims about the problem and your objective’s projected impact

Assembling this kind of “case for support kit” will be extremely helpful once it’s time to create campaign materials like web pages, brochures, email templates, and more—see the examples below for this strategy in action.

3. Boost your persuasion power with clear writing.

Persuasive writing is direct, clear, and evocative—set your fundraising materials up for success by baking these qualities into your case for support from the very start. Consider these best practices:

  • Keep sentences short and impactful. Write as specifically as possible to naturally keep things concise.
  • Avoid using too many adjectives and adverbs to describe things and problems. Let the details and the context speak for themselves and paint a picture for readers.
  • Be intentional and specific with your word choices. It’s easy in nonprofit work to get bogged down in vague generalities and jargon, but these will never give you the impact you need to make a convincing pitch to people who aren’t knee-deep in your mission all day.
  • Understand the power of passive and active voice. Active voice tends to be clearer and more impactful and should take precedence in your core case for support. Passive voice has its role and is more helpful for explaining complex thoughts and situations, but try to wait until you’re writing longer-form campaign materials to use it.

4. Understand your audience and context.

Actively think about who your case for support is speaking to and why they should care about your mission and ask.

For many cases for support, you’ll be writing to a general audience of supporters. In others, you’ll be targeting a more specific segment from the get-go, like

  • Major, mid-level, or lower-level donors
  • Volunteers
  • Event attendees
  • Prospective donors for a specific giving program
  • Potential corporate sponsors

Draft your case for support with the interests and motivations of your audience in mind. For example, positive brand awareness is a prime motivator for corporate partners, so make sure your core case statements highlight the size of your audience and the public reach that your organization has. Tax incentives often motivate major and non-cash donors, so you can mention these when discussing the positive impacts (both for your mission and your donors) that your fundraising initiative will have.

Getting Specific: Using Data to Take Your Case for Support to the Next Level

Concrete details make for more effective pitches. When compiling a new case for support and any associated kits of details and stories, don’t forget the data.

For a case for support, this supporting data might include information like:

  • Details about other funding sources for the campaign or project
  • Information about your corporate partners
  • Your organization’s current matching gift revenue
  • Statistics about your volunteer program

Why gather this information? Depending on the audience and context of your case for support, being prepared with this data can be extremely helpful.

For example, major donors might want to know it to gauge your organization’s effectiveness before committing to a large gift. Foundations and sponsors might require this information. In very specific circumstances, like if you’re laying out the case to recruit sponsors for a special donation match challenge, information about the scope of your fundraising efforts will be integral to the agreement.

By having this data on hand and baked into the messaging guidelines of your case for support, you’ll be able to easily create detailed, custom pitches for your prospects.

You might already have much of this information in your CRM. For data specific to your grants or corporate philanthropy efforts, be sure to use dedicated grant management and corporate philanthropy tools that make it easy to generate reports and projections (and to raise more of these funds in general).

Check out this video to learn more about how the right platform, like 360MatchPro, can not only unlock new revenue streams for your nonprofit but also equip you with the tools you need to build and report more thriving giving programs all around:

Click here to learn how 360MatchPro reporting can help you track mid-level donors

Watch Out! 5 Case for Support Pitfalls to Avoid

Creating a case for support should become second nature anytime your organization takes on a significant new fundraising campaign or launches a new giving program. What are the common mistakes to avoid along the way?

  • Mistake 1: Starting with a document or brochure.
    • Remember, a case for support is a set of persuasive arguments and details, not just a document. You’ll distill your case into a wide range of campaign materials like brochures, emails, web pages, and more, but jumping ahead to that stage might limit your vision and the case’s overall effectiveness.
  • Mistake 2: Not securing buy-in.
    • A case for support is a foundational fundraising resource—your organization should feel confident that the pitch it lays out aligns with your vision and goals for the campaign. If you don’t get sign-off from campaign or organizational leaders early, you might risk needing to backtrack later to update fundraising materials that were based on an outdated version of the case.
  • Mistake 3: Not testing your case for major campaigns.
    • A case for support allows you to test your pitch in the lead-up to a capital campaign. These kinds of major fundraising campaigns are big investments of your time and resources, and they have high stakes, so you need to ensure your messaging is as effective as possible early in the process. Use a feasibility study to introduce a small group of high-impact supporters to your campaign, ask for feedback on your case for support, and use their input to improve it before moving forward.
  • Mistake 4: Becoming too donor- or organization-centric.
    • The focus in a case for support should be on the positive impact that will be created when you achieve your campaign’s objective. Nonprofits often see advice about making donors the heroes of their pitches, but that’s not necessarily the goal in a case for support. You can emphasize their role in later messages that you create using the case for support. Similarly, avoid overly-centering your organization as the active player—it’s all about the objective and impact at this stage.
  • Mistake 5: Veering into scarcity-thinking.
    • Your case for support should convey a positive and ambitious but realistic vision for achieving your objective. Avoid limiting yourself (and using toned-down or pessimistic language) in your case for support since its core messages will make their way into all of your fundraising materials later. While you don’t want to positivity-whitewash the problem you’re tackling, which might downplay the urgency, you should still emphasize your strengths and come off as confident.

Nonprofit Case for Support Examples

Let’s take a look at some strong examples of case for support documents created by leading nonprofits. We’ll examine them from both sides:

Public-Facing Case for Support: UNICEF

Read the case for support document

UNICEF case for support example

This is the public-facing case for support for an ambitious 10-year initiative, The UNICEF and WHO Joint Programme on Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-being and Development of Children and Adolescents. This campaign seeks to raise $50 million in donation commitments to achieve its crystal-clear objective:

“By 2030, children and adolescents living in countries targeted under the Joint Programme will experience reduced suffering and improved mental health and psychosocial well-being and development.”

This is a “global” case for support document for the campaign, meaning it can serve as the single source of truth for fundraisers to create new campaign materials and have more targeted discussions with prospective donors. Its high quality also means it could easily be shared directly with prospects and news outlets as-is, too.

What this Case for Support Does Well

  • Includes extremely clear and impactful language
  • Repeats key phrases and vision statements across the entire document
  • Conveys true urgency without coming across as dark or dire
  • Emphasizes the impact of proposed solutions and provides statistics to back them up
  • Very clearly structured with headings that reinforce the purpose of the document

Internal Case for Support: YMCA

Read the case for support document

YMCA case for support example

This is an internally-facing case for support written by the team at the Santa Monica Family YMCA to support an annual fundraising campaign.

This particular case document could be an extremely helpful example for your nonprofit. It gives us a direct glimpse into what a working case for support looks like and what kind of information yours should include.

We love how mission-centric this example is—every section clearly connects back to the organization’s mission of strengthening communities through supporting youth and fostering healthy living. With this resource in hand, it would be easy for YMCA fundraisers to craft compelling gift solicitations and promotional materials.

What this Case for Support Does Well

  • Begins by clarifying the purpose of the resource for YMCA staff
  • Clearly connects all sections back to the organization’s mission
  • Explains core programs and areas of operation in easily-repeatable language for use in more materials and donor discussions
  • Ends with a short library of constituent stories broken down by program—invaluable for fundraisers in the field!


Writing a case for support (for a campaign, event, or just for your fundraising efforts in general) is one of the most important things you can do to set your nonprofit up for success.

With an easy-to-use guide on how to talk about your objectives, needs, goals, and plans, your team will be able to tackle any fundraising challenge with ease. If you need to draft a case of support of your own, start by working through the “Essential Elements” explained above and following our recommended steps. You’ll be engaging your prospects, funders, and corporate partners with compelling fundraising pitches in no time.

To keep learning, explore these additional fundraising guides:

Learn how 360MatchPro can help you generate more revenue and make a more compelling pitch to donors.