Tag Archives: Communication

Tips on how to name (frame) your case for support.

What’s in a name? If it is the name of your case for support, there should be a lot in it. It’s a frame and a sign that sits on the most valuable real estate of a document, the cover. And it’s a frame and a sign of your most valuable document, your case for support. You want to use it strategically.nameing / framing your case for support

A sign, like a traffic sign, gives specific information about what to expect: Watch out for falling rocks, and it points to something: This way to Naramata. Like a sign, a name or title of a case should give specific information about what to expect and point the reader to a destination, i.e. their role in helping realize a vision or the promise embedded in a mission.

We can also think about a case title as a frame that puts boundaries and applies focus around specific content. It shows us what to look at. What’s in, what’s out, what’s important. The name of a case for support tells a reader about the content and helps them know what to look at and look for. And like a frame around a work of art, it enhances–decorates–the content.

A case name, then, is specific, direction setting and content enhancing. That sounds clinical. Let’s breathe life into this by trying on a few case titles. Continue reading

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How to make your campaign message work harder.

Election campaigns Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 3.57.58 PMare much like fundraising campaigns. Just over a week ago, British Columbians went to the polls, and I was reminded of the power of the message. For those of you who don’t follow BC politics, six weeks before to the election, the NDP (New Democratic Party) commanded such a significant lead pundits and pollsters said it would be next to impossible for the governing Liberal Party to close the gap. We were expecting an easy NDP majority and an utterly obliterated Liberal Party. The results: a Liberal majority. What happened? Continue reading

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A tip for a better case for support

Take few steps into the National Steinbeck Centre in Salinas, California, and you will come across this quote: “If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.” It is from Steinbeck’s classic novel East of Eden. As I read Steinbeck’s work, I often pause and marvel at how succinctly he captures a complex idea and presents it in a few unpretentious words. The quote above is an excellent example. If the story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. The takeaway for the nonprofit sector is this: Continue reading

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The best advice I ever received

I follow Erik Anderson’s  Donor Dreams Blog. This week he posted a piece with the same headline as the one you see above. He explained that a colleague of his writes regularly under this headline. He must have received lots of good advice. I like the idea of sharing good advice. So here I am with the first of what may be many posts under the headline: The best advice I ever received. Funny coming from one who polices the use of superlatives.case for support

The best advice I ever received (part I) is this: Present a vision the donor can be excited about.

I was working on a planning study, interviewing a financially-successful young to middle-age man. I asked him about my client’s vision and if he found it compelling. As it turned out, the vision did not resonate with him, but what he said next resonated with me. Continue reading

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A reliable theory for predicting success.

This week I turned 51. I tend to reminisce on my birthday, and this week I found myself back at the beginning. I entered the world in Falun, Sweden. As a child I could never have imagined the path my life has taken. The notion of change is fascinating. What precisely has brought me to this place in life? Why did I make certain decisions and not others? Why do some changes succeed and others fail?

That's  me in the middle.

That’s me in the middle.

In the nonprofit sector we are certainly in the business of change. I think of the case for support as a change agent. It articulates an argument for the change we want to see in the world. The change may be for better access to local healthcare, enhanced literacy, housing for all, access to education, better care for the dying, sustainable communities at home and in faraway places.

Our nonprofits work to bring about important changes in society, and as we do we hear about campaigns that exceed target while still in the quiet phase, and others–with similar mandates and in equally affluent communities–struggle. Why?

While in grad school I did some research into change. I came across a theory Continue reading

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Tips for a well messaged gala

The other day, a client asked me for tips on how to message a gala. Since we are approaching gala season, I thought I’d share my reply here with you.How to message a gala_Case for Support

Every gala is different. So instead of giving you advice and specifics that may not be useful for your organization, I will share my approach.

Gala messaging is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about expressing an already strategically, thought-through case for support to a specific group of individuals.

I keep the message real by developing it with real people in mind, donors who will be at the event. I am talking about real people not composite characters based on demographic indicators. I look for people who have capacity to give and who may  not be fully sold on the cause. By selecting skeptics, Continue reading

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Ask this. Get that. Why questions matter.

When I was fresh out of college, I had a conversation with my sister’s academic advisor, a Ph.D. in in immunology. He was giving me advice on how to get academics to explain their work in more detail. His advice, challenge them by saying, You don’t really believe that, do you? A great question to get people, not just academics, to talk.

The Case for Support and good questions

Are you asking long-lever questions?

Albert Einstein said, If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. Continue reading

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What are you doing on Valentine’s Day?

February 14th is coming up. That means it’s time to think of ways to share the love that flows from your cause with your organization’s community, its donors, volunteers, leaders. Case for Support: Valentine's Day

I’m not talking about sending chocolates or flowers to your donors. On Cupid’s day, that would border on being inappropriate. I am suggesting that you have an opportunity to show impact, to show how gifts of money, time and leadership are changing lives. If that’s not a message of love, I don’t know what is.   Continue reading

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I woke up wondering…

…did I write forward or foreword? And wouldn’t you know it, I had written one when I had meant the other. The blunder happened in an email to Amanda, a colleague and friend who is an amazing editor. Embarrassed  I followed up with a note to her. This kind of thing keeps me humble.

Writers bring different skills and strengths to projects. Some writers are the embodiment of The Elements of Style. They can spot a misplaced modifier as easily most people can spot a piece of spinach in someone’s teeth. They know where a stronger verb Continue reading

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The Commander’s Intent: Find clarity fast

Here’s a concept that can help you find clarity, fast. Developed by the US Army, the notion of the Commander’s Intent has useful application for fundraisers, and is working its way into the cases for support that I develop. I came across the concept last year when I read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Health.

As I mentioned, the concept has its origin in the US Army. Imagine planning for combat situations. If this happens, do that. But it that happens, do this. Yikes.  (Not unlike fundraising in an unpredictable environment.)  Colonel Tom Kolditz, head of behavioural Continue reading

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