How to Make the Case for Donations

By Arthur Criscillis

Cash is king – without it you wouldn’t be able to provide the programs and services your nonprofit offers. But why should people give you their hard-earned money? Effective fundraisers are able to answer this question every time they ask for a gift and make the case for donations.

I often hear “people give to people.” However rarely do people make substantial gifts (by their own definition) to people. Instead they make these gifts to institutions, projects, and programs, which resonate with the values they hold near and dear.

This is particularly true in education. Professional staff, such as development officers, and academic and administrative leaders, makes the majority of solicitations.

The deciding factor in gift decisions can sometimes be the solicitor, but more often it is the compelling nature of the specific objective the gift will fund. Donors need to see their gift will enable something they value to become real. In short, in the vast majority of instances people give to the case, not to people.

How to Make the Case

Making the case isn’t printing and sending out a document. Rather, it’s in the details:  Make your case as to why this specific objective is significant to your organization and the donor.

It’s imperative we are able to articulate why gifts matter.

Let’s say you need a new building. Let donors know how it will enable teachers to better educate students, as well as make new or enhanced methods of learning possible. Maybe you need to increase staff? Know how the funds will enable the school to recruit, retain, and support highly qualified teachers. Be able to illustrate how they will educate and inspire their students, thereby advancing their knowledge in key areas.

Something else to consider is the “so what.” These are secondary matters I prefer to call leveraging points. Leveraging points include:

  • Gift recognition
  • Naming opportunities
  • Demonstrating leadership
  • Meeting campaign goals
  • Securing challenge gifts
  • Obtaining matching gifts

These are all important points to raise as we seek to close a gift. However, they play a supporting role, and should never be used as a substitute to the case.

When you make the case, notice how your prospects respond – they can clearly see how and who their gift is helping; people and communities.  Making your case is a vital component of closing a deal. We need to be prepared to make our cases clearly, concisely, and consistently, if we want to make an impact on donors.