Why Fundraising Is Never Just about the Money

To begin your success journey in fundraising and community building:

You have to accurately identify real needs.

This sounds so simple and straightforward, but it’s really not. The “presenting need” of any individual or group almost never reveals the root cause of real problems.

Human beings create lots of secondary needs because primary needs and problems haven’t been addressed. Our primary needs are for food, shelter, clothing, and community, and in our society, adults are expected to meet these needs for themselves. But what if adults don’t have marketable skills that allow them to find work? Or, what if the marketable skills they do have are no longer in demand because industry has changed?

Children, of course, can’t provide for their primary needs and are dependent on adults. So, right off, the challenge of assessing needs requires us to ask about the age of the population we are looking at. Aged adults are also a special demographic. They often suffer from diminished capacity. When older people can’t meet their primary needs, the solutions for them have to be very different from those for young adults.

Logically, if you don’t understand primary needs and the demographics of those with needs, developing solutions is nearly impossible. Need assessment is never easy, and in truth, it is quite challenging. I’m going to focus on this challenge exclusively in my blogs, “The Need to Define Need.”

In fundraising, need definition is primary and paramount to development of your case statement. What is a case statement? Allow me to quote from Turn Right at the Dancing Cow: All successful fundraising begins with writing a white paper called a case statement. This document spells out:

·         The perceived need, which must be real, immediate, and urgent

·         A proposed solution to meet that need, which must be thoughtful, innovative, and compelling

·         A clear and believable presentation about benefits that will flow from the solution, which must be measurable and verifiable, and a call to action, which invites the reader to respond in various ways that might support the solution and bring about the promised benefits.

If you really want to succeed, you have to develop a case statement for your higher purpose project. Everyone does. Even Maggie Josiah, the main player in my story, needed to create a case statement. And all these years later, she constantly has to update it as this document is a living entity that changes year-to-year to reflect new realities.

I’m going to reproduce Maggie’s current case statement in a separate blog, just to give you one example of what a finished case statement looks like. Let me caution you, however, that this case statement is a summary. Behind the scenes, Maggie and I worked and re-worked one edition after another before this summary document was born. Some of those early drafts of her case statement were ten or twelve pages long.

I have helped write case statements that were as many as 100 pages in length. This happens only when the projects are complicated. But even when this is the situation, eventually those case statements get boiled down to no more than four or five pages with three to seven key messages for public consumption.

Yes, writing a case statement is hard work. But it is foundational work, and no charitable organization can ever hope to succeed without creating this foundational document. In the next blogs, I’ll take you through the anatomy of building a case statement and give you a road-map to follow for creating your own.

However, if you’re engaged in a project that is desperate for help RIGHT NOW, drop me an email and spell out your challenges. You may not have time to wait for the expertise found in these blogs. Let’s see if we can get you going in the right direction before you make a wrong turn at a crucial intersection on your journey.