In the nonprofit sector we typically don’t think of other nonprofits as competitors, or at least we don’t like to admit that we do.
The reality is that nonprofits compete for support, and the competition for volunteers and dollars is increasing. There are about 80,000 registered charities in Canada and about one million in the US. Not reflected in these numbers is the recent internet-enabled phenomenon of donors who respond directly–without a charity in the middle–to personal appeals. For an example of donor-direct fundraising take a look at http://www.loveforlilee.com.
In the marketplace of nonprofits, some organizations excel and others stagnate. Branding, marketing material, social media are excellent tools to help differentiate an organization. They are carriers of a message. The case for your cause is your message. Look to it first (before you look to the tools) to attract the leaders, volunteers, dollars, friends, sponsors and media attention that you need to succeed.
Before people give, they want to understand, among other things, the vision they will help enable, the impact their donation will have, and they want to have faith in the organization’s leadership and ability to deliver on its mission. The more they give, the more they will want to know about the cause and the organization.
Your case for support needs to satisfy three central questions:
- Why give to this sector? Why support healthcare over education over faith over community-development? What impact will the donation make?
- Why give to this organization and its vision? There are lots of good organizations in your sector, why is your organization worthy or support? How are you different? Given the recent donor-direct trend, your case should address how you as an organization add value.
- Why now? What’s the urgency? Why is this initiative moving forward now, and not five years ago or in five years?
Address these questions fully and strategically and you will be on your way to making a case.