Hangin’ with Henry and talking about use of language and your case for support

As most of you know, the first Thursday of every month has been dedicated to featuring a short video from Henry Freeman, who is an accomplished non-profit and fundraising professional. As you may know, Henry recently published a new book titled Unlacing the Heart. If you haven’t had a chance to check-it-out yet, I strongly urge you to do so. (To re-visit last month’s book review, check out the post titled “A book every fundraising professional MUST read!)

In the last few weeks, I’ve been answering a lot of questions from new fundraising professionals about the difference between an internal case for support document (also called a case statement) and an external case for support document (also commonly referred to as a campaign brochure or an appeals letter). So, when I recently viewed one of Henry’s video snippets on internal vs. external language with regards to donor communications, I thought this might be the perfect time to share it with the DonorDreams community.

For those of you who subscribe to DonorDreams blog and get notices by email, you will want to click this link to view this month’s featured YouTube video. If you got here via your web browser, then you can click on the video graphic below.

I know there is very little time in a busy fundraising professional’s life, which makes cutting corners hard. However, writing an internal case for support (aka case statement) is an important exercise before doing any of the following fundraising activities:

  • annual campaign
  • special event
  • direct or targeted mail
  • grant writing

Sitting down and pouring your thoughts out on a piece of paper will help you crystallize what and why you’re doing what you’re doing. It will help you with answering the the following questions:

  • What is the need?
  • How do we know it is a need?
  • Why the sense of urgency?
  • What is our organization doing to help address this need?
  • Who will this benefit?
  • How can donors help and get involved?

As Henry describes in his video, you will use lots of internal language in developing your internal case document, which is OK because the only people who will see it are staff and volunteers. You will then use this document to:

  • develop your external communications pieces (e.g. letters, brochures, etc )
  • develop support documentation for fundraising volunteers (e.g. FAQs, fact sheets, etc)
  • develop trainings for volunteers
  • develop talking points for volunteers

When going from internal to external, Henry hits the nail on the head when he warns us not to use jargon or language that people outside of our organization may not connect with.

When is the last time you wrote an internal case for support (aka case statement)? What was your experience? What would you do differently? Was it beneficial? Please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on December 3, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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