The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 1 · 8 months ago

The 5 Elements of an Effective Fundraising Case Statement


When creating a fundraising plan for your institution, the very first step is developing your fundraising case for support.

Bill Stanczykiewicz is the Senior Assistant Dean for External Relations and the Director of the Fundraising School at IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which is the world’s only school on philanthropic studies.

Needless to say, he’s THE expert on institutional philanthropy.

In this episode, he explains the steps you should take to develop an effective fundraising case statement.

We discuss:

- 5 elements of an effective fundraising case for support

- Other considerations for a major gift marketing or communications initiative

- Why you shouldn’t fear fundraising during challenging times

Resources mentioned during the podcast:

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

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You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, don'tor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the hired marketer podcast. I'm troy singer and with my cohost and Gi Joe Action figure collector Bark Taylor. Today, Martin, I speak with bill stands, a Kevitch from the Lily School of fundraising about creating an effective case statement for fundraising. Yeah, troy, it's been a it's a really good conversation. Bill is very, very knowledgeable. He teaches at the Ius School of Philanthropy here in Indianapolis and he does a great job of outlining, you know, the case for support. And a lot of times we as marketers are going to be asked by the advancement department to help them with whether it's a capital campaign, whether it's, you know, you're end fundraising or just ongoing fundraising. A lot of times we as marketers need to understand what that's all about and then be able to understand how to craft the stories and the marketing around that to make it most effective and build as an excellent job of outlaying that and really helping us to understand that. And you and I have to know that bill also has a background in radio. That comes out in his voice. That comes out and the energy and delivery and this will be twenty very fast and enjoyable minutes and also, most importantly, very informative. Yeah, so let's check in on our conversation with bill. It is our pleasure and honor to welcome bill stands a Kevitch to the high it marketer podcast. He serves as the Senior Assistant Dean for External Relations, clinical associate professor and director of the fundraising school. Bill, thank you for coming on the PODCAST. Were excited to talk to you about fundraising and best practices and some of the things that you teach at the lively school of Philanthropy. Yeah, Troy, thanks for having me on. If you would give us a little bit about yourself and the school? Well, the fundraising school has been around since one thousand nine hundred and seventy four invented by Henry and dotty Rosso when they foresaw the coming growth of the nonprofit sector. Back then the sector was still growing. In many ways, the profession of fundraising was in its early stages. A Lot of times what a nonprofit would do is kind of bring somebody into fundraise and, when the campaign was over, send them on their way. Not Profits, more and more, were hiring fulltime fundraising staff, and so hank and dotty decided to formalize the profession by creating this school with evidence based principles and techniques of fundraising. So we train all over the world, before the pandemic, about six thousand people every year and, of course, because of the pandemic, more so now online than in person, although we do have significant in person offerings. And the fundraising school is housed within the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which is the world's only school on Philanthropic Studies. So think about you know there's a school of law, School of Medicine, of school of business. We are the School of Philanthropy Different From nonprofit management, is important as nonprofit management is. Instead, philanthropy is part of the human condition. It's who we are. As people. It's part of our behavior and lifestyle in the ways we express our generosity to each other and in our communities. And so we have bachelor, master and doctoral degrees in the school philanthropy. We also have a robust research team that's continually discovering new knowledge about philanthropic behavior, including charitable giving. All of that informs the curriculum of the fundraising school. We don't just have a fundraiser in front of the room saying here's how I had success. You can to our faculty are accomplished fundraisers. This is practition or focused, but our curriculum as much as possible... evidence based with that research. Thank you. And where do your students typically come from? So primarily in the United States, but we also do teach all over the world where we cover all nine subsectors of the philanthropic sector. And you know all budget sizes, so you know the largest universities and hospital systems to the Corner neighborhood nonprofit with a budget of less than a hundred thousand dollars. We have different curriculum tailor to each of their respective needs as they come to the fundraising school to strengthen their fun development skills. Thanks Bill. I appreciate you kind of explaining a little bit about the school of Philanthropy. I know that when we first had our initial conversation we kind of talked through some different subjects and one of the things that you agree to talk about was kind of the the elements of the traditional fundraising case for support, whether that's using in fundraising, whether it's used in capital campaigns. There's an element, you know, kind of a kind of a metric to that. I guess that you teach that it. Would love to hear a little bit more about that. Well, your higher ad audience will appreciate, you know, the kind of the letter V and the academy. That's how we work, right. We start with a big concept and then we continue in Arrow down to the specific. So let me take a step back and invite your audience to think about, let's just say, painting a room. Right, you're going to do your own painting. It's going to be, say, your living room or dining room or so forth. You do we just take the can of paint and throw it up against the wall. You could. That's called abstract art. Some people might even pay a millions of dollars for that. But no, actually probably going to be a lot more planned and disciplined and careful about that. So what do we need to do? We need to take the furniture out of the room. We need to make sure the floor is covered. We need to make sure that we're taping off the trim so the trim doesn't get the same color as the the wall paint. We're taking off the covers for the light switches and the electical outlets. Were cleaning the wall where maybe filling in some some pock marks that might be there in smoothing that out. Maybe there's an oil stain, so we have to prime that part of the wall. All of these things need to happen before we can paint the room. And then, by the way, now we need to go to the store and you say, well, we're going to paint the room blue, and the woman at the hardware store shows you literally three hundred shades of blue right and different, you know, gloss finishes and all of them. I got to choose one of those. A lot of planning, a lot of thinking, a lot of strategy, and that's what we want people to think about in terms of fundraising. Is that it is the multiple steps of planning that go into this process. I think a lot of people are hesitant to fund raise. They think, well, I just can't go up to people randomly and ask them for money. Good, because we're not asking you to do that. Instead, there's a lot of planning that needs to go into this process, and that planning is a fourteen step process called the fundraising cycle. And in the fundraising cycle we have things like getting an initial idea of who could possibly fund us, amongst individuals, foundations and corporations, some initial ideas about our needs based on our program costs and other forms of revenue. We engage our board with their oversight and their insight into this process. Then we get more specific about our needs and finalize those and more specific about categories of fundraising opportunities, again individuals, foundations and corporations. Then we name names of individuals, name names of foundations and corporations and kind of give an estimate of a range we could fundraise from them in the next coming year, for what reason, attached to which programmer, service or unrestricted, and knitting that all together is called the fundraising plan. Now, before we move forward, we need to make sure our marketing materials are aligned. Do we have a theme? Do we have a logo? Are there going to be handouts? What about social media in the website? Are we going to buy these ads that break into streaming services now right, whether it be spotify or Youtube TV or whatever people are watching from? You got all that planned out? Then we're still not done. We need the board's approval and only then can we go make the ask, which is stage thirteen of this fourteen stage process, the fourteen stepping stewardship that were maintaining relationship with those donors and funders in ways that don't continually ask them for more money, but just...

...treating them with human dignity, honoring them for their gift, maintaining that relationship over time. So that's the fourteen step fundraising cycle. The very first step is your fundraising case for support. This is what sets you apart. This is your most unique aspect, most strongest description of why you are distinct. There are, in the United States alone, about one and a half million nonprofits, and that doesn't even include all of the religious congregations. We included them. The numbers about two million, and donors are receiving requests from multiple nonprofits every single year. How do you set yourself apart with the fund raising case for support? So, Bart and troy, it's a very specific tool that without that you're not going to be able to distinguish yourself and make your fundraising case when the time comes to talk to the donor. Thank you, Bill, and if we can, we'd like to break down the fundraising case of support. I believe there are five elements and the first element is what is your compelling idea, or what is your big compelling idea? Correct? Yeah, when we think about the corporate sector, I think just about everybody has flown southwest airlines right and even back in the day. Those, those have been around for a while. Remember that when the other airlines had their flight attendants and really fancy uniforms and were serving us like chicken and steak dinners and things like that, you know the southwest flight attendants were in their cargo shorts and their golf shirts, making jokes as they toss their bags of peanuts across the airplane. But the one thing is is that the southwest was always very customer friendly and highly affordable. What's their big compelling idea that has led them to win. You know, the customer satisfaction award decades in a row, and the big compelling idea southwest airlines is giving people of all incomes the freedom to fly. That's the big compelling idea and every decision they make falls within that big compelling idea. What is your big compelling idea at Your University, at Your College, at Your Department or your division within Your College, at Your Research Institute, at Your Athletic Department, in Your Music Program what is your big compelling idea? Because don't owners are interested in those big ideas? The number one of the key reasons that people give is impact, results, making a difference. And what are you asking me to make a difference in? And it's that big compelling idea. So a good place to look is the organization strategic plan. What is Your Vision Statement and what are your value declarations? These should be, you know, just very highminded, big concepts, inspiring words and phrases that move us towards that cause of why the school exists. And it's that big compelling idea that's going to define everybody else and really grab the donor's attention up front as to why they could be interested in your school. That's great and I know that's what kind of go into that, because I've worked on some case statements before too, and many times it's, you know, in collaboration or we get the big idea and we get these other elements and put them in, you know, in a marketing speak and things like that. But I guess the second one is kind of then starting to understand what the problem is you're trying to solve. Is that correct? Yeah, there are a couple different ways look at this. Either you have a specific problem you're trying to solve. So I'm on the board of our local food bank and we're trying to solve food in security, right, and so then we would describe food and security in the region that we serve. Use Data, how that compares to other regions. How many people are being served, the repercussions if they're not served, the positive consequences if they are. All of these things. Were describing the problem, but we can also put this in a positive term, and that is describe the opportunity you're trying to fulfill. And so especial and higher at are we starting? You know, a new program a new research institute, a new line of research, a new faculty chair, a new degree program you know, those are all opportunities or just overall, the relative advantage of who we are as a school that, you know, I might be a liberal, a small liberal arts campus, but I also have this strong science college that maybe distinguishes me from other small liberal arts schools. That's going to be an opportunity to...

...fulfill for some donors. So again we're it's either problem to solve an opportunity to fulfill. It's tied into that big compelling idea and we're being as specific as we can with data, with research reports and study findings, perhaps with a testimonial of somebody who has used our program or the typical person who would use our program if we're getting started, a way to understand the real why of what we're doing, tied into that big compelling idea of how we're going to make the world a better place. So after that problem is identified in the cases made, then the next step is offering the solution or explaining the solution. Yeah, and this is probably the easiest step of all because you're describing your programs, in your services or the programs and services that you're launching and you know, this is especially where our board members can come in, because they should be able to describe this in very clear terms without necessarily having to get into the nitty gritty and the details. And so we can describe our research project, checked our degree program you know, the new initiative, the way we're partnering with the Community Around Community Development or with a business sector around economic development. So just describing our programs and our services in great detail so that the donor can see exactly what we're doing to accomplish the why in very specific practical terms. And I think when I'm looking at the number four, when it's it's kind of like the idea of the outcomes. What are the outcomes going to be? Who? What? What is the intended results going to be? Is that? Is that how it works? And so again, the big compelling idea, especially with you about major gift fundraising. Big donors want big ideas, right, but they want to know that these aren't just flighty ideas, that these are very thoughtful ideas, that these are going to be long standing, long term ideas and solutions that are going to have a steadfast contribution to making the world a better place for a long time, and one way we're going to do that as to measure for results, and so we're going to be able to describe to our donors, because of this program, this is going to happen, we anticipate this is going to happen and why, or if the program has been in existence. Here are our program data, not just our outputs, the number of students who graduate, but our outcomes. What are our alumni doing these days? What type of work are they doing, what type of impact are they having and, yes, what type of salary are they drawing and, you know, being able to care for themselves as well. So we're going to be able to measure all of these things and make that part of our description to the donor, because it on one of the top reasons that people donate is they want to fund impact, they want to be able to make a difference. You can also some of those results can be testimonials from people served by the program or people providing the service, say a faculty member WHO's leading a research division or a particular, you know, line of instruction at the school. So big compelling idea. What is the problem we're trying to solve or the opportunity we're trying to fulfill, describe how with our programs and our services, and then what results do we anticipate or are we enjoying, or can we magnify and multiply because of charitable support from the donor? And then, finally, it's very apparent of why should the donor care? Making that emotional impact and making sure how you communicate that is relevant to the donor. Make sure it's tailored to the donor. And that's exactly right. We're now customizing all this information for this particular individual or foundation or business sector funder as well. And so instead of me going to the department store to just buy a suit off the rack, now I'm going to a tailor to customize a suit specifically for me. That's this stage of the fundraising case for support. We could have ten people who support our college, Ten people who support our university, but that could have ten very different reasons for doing so. Maybe one is an alum, maybe another one is a parent of a student who graduated, maybe one is a business leader who relies on the college for the next round of of employees. All sorts of different reasons. Religious faith taxes can figure into...

...this. My reputation, not an ego way, but in a positive way to say this is why I want to be known as out in my community. All these myriad of reasons why people donate, and as fundraisers we're going to know the specific reason or reasons for each of those ten different donors and that's how we're going to tailor this fundraising case for support so that it's not a one size fits all. The first four aspects are but in this fifth one we're now translating it to this particular donors strongest interests, with their filmthropic values and their philanthropic motivations. I love that. I now know a lot of times, as marketers, sometimes we can get excited about, you know, taking a lot of this information and putting it into a real nice and brochure or a real nice, you know, presentation piece. But I think one of the things that we forget, even as we're copyrighting and doing other things, is that we've got to focus on like that last part. You talked about the tailored aspect of who the donor is, remembering that the donor really wants to be able to they in a way that I mean there's there's this idea that the hero of the story that they want to be able to steward, they want to be able to serve and they're not looking for just being asked, they want to be able to be a part of what's going on. And so I think sometimes, and correct me if I'm wrong, Bill, but sometimes we need to make sure that the way that we are crafting the message, the way that we are connecting the donor with with with our opportunities for them to join us in stewardship, has more to do with, you know, tailoring it toward them rather than just giving them a Lett laundry list of Santa Claus. Here's what I am want for Christmas, and this is where our marketing colleagues are essential to fundraising and the fundraising case for support and, to amplify a word that you just use, their part, and that's story. People might not always remember data, they might not always remember research findings, they might not always remember the details of your program or your service, but more often than not they will remember a story, or at least the essence of a story. And we can even think about how marketing experts, or even think about our television and movie producers, the Typical Story Arc. Here is our main character, our protagonist, and let's learn about this main character and some things that are true about them, and then we learn about some either challenges that they have in their life or some opportunities that could come across their way. But then there's kind of this fork in the road that those problems aren't going to be solved or that opportunity isn't going to be fulfilled until this resolution point comes about that does solve that problem or does fulfill that opportunity. And then at the end that main character, their life isn't a good place, but it's a hallmark movie. It starts to snow, the dog barks and and it's all good. So our marketing people can take that fundraising case for support and create that story, create that narrative, tell us about that typical student who talk to us, about that typical member of the alumni, that typical faculty member who's doing the research, the typical community that benefits from the presence of the college, the typical employment sector that benefits from our students going to intern and coop and work for them, and talk about that story in that way. That then can also be seen and therefore, donor, you have a role in this story. Right, we have a spot just for we did our casting call and you're in. You can see yourself as part of this story because, remember, with philanthropy, and especially now with technology, we can sit in our homes and we can make a difference. We can pop open our technology device, we can make a donation or sign a petition or forward something on social media. But our impact expands exponentially when we join with others who care about the things that we care about, the causes that we want to pursue, the way we want to make the world a better place in positive ways, and that's the story that I'm joining. So I would encourage our marketing people, you are essential to fundraising, help us craft those stories of which the fundraising case for support fits within, so the donor can see themselves in that story. That's great. That's great, Bill. What are some of the other elements?...

Are Topics that should be considered when approaching a major gift marketing or communication initiative? You know, I think you know, we certainly want to think about all the the leading edge ideas. Like you know, how do we now get those ads that are tailor to each individual listener and viewer on our streaming devices. You know, I'm tuned into my serious Xm channel, listening to my favorite sports talk show. I reside in Indiana, but at the moment I'm in Illinois. This is a true story. And suddenly the host takes a commercial break and I'm hearing a radio AD ON SATELLITE RADIO FOR NONPROFIT BACK IN INDIANA. Why? Because somehow, you know, my technology device is registered in Indiana and they found out. Well, just go find the Indiana people and, you know, plug in this this spot into the satellite show. We see that. For those of you who've cut the cord and stream, you know Hulu, Youtube TV and so forth. You know, suddenly I'm getting a TV AD. I'm watching my ball game and it's our local community college in Indiana. HMM, how did that write that? So all the sophisticated, cutting edge things that are happening at the same time, let's not leave out kind of the old school right to make sure that we're still in the the local media, whether it's the newspaper, even if it's not on paper anymore and it's on the tablet, the local radio, the local television, the local billboards that those are still important. And I'll give you an example again. I'm on the Board of my Regional Food Bank here and the New York Times comes a calling and interviews two of our staff members about how the supply chain problems in our economy are actually affecting the provision of food, especially for marginalized communities. Exactly the people were solving at our food bank. Those two people part of a New York time story. One of the national news networks picks up on it, MSNBC, and interviews our CEO on one of their Sunday morning programs. Nice teen in interview in the CEO did a great job and about a week or two later, unsolicited, comes this twentyzero donation from a resident in the state of New York, where in Indiana, who said Hey, I saw that TV interview. You guys are doing great work. I love how you're overcoming these economic challenges that all of us are facing. Here's Twentyzero. Now that doesn't always happen, that's not always the guarantee, but it was traditional media that helped us get the story out right. In addition to all the cutting edge things that your firm is providing, important leadership on it's a both and so again, help us find those themes, help us find those delivery methods. Different people, different demographics, different age groups, are going to find information in different ways. Who's your key audience? Where do they consume information? And that's where we need to be with information about our nonprofit, not even about making the ass but just putting the information out there about who we are and what we do that can get donor attention. One more quick example. The research shows that a key way for nonprofits to fund raises through their advocacy when they're out in the public square, when they might have a public event to hey, let's reduce food and security, for example, let's say. or it might be raising awareness around an important social justice issue for an example. Well, what are you doing? You're creating positive exposure for yourself. So when it comes time to make the ask the donors like, Oh, I you guys had that big event or you did that big social media campaign or you hosted that that, you know, a very positive demonstration in our public park and I'm aware of you. So, marketing folks, we need you to help us create that awareness so that the we can come in and ask those donors for financial support. That's great. That's great and I think that just to kind of piggyback a little bit on that, because I just want to make sure that everybody understands and they heard what you said. Bill, the idea of segmentation is so critical when it comes down to I mean, we talked about that enrollment sometimes, you know, with generation Z and and talking about millennials and things like that, but I think sometimes we forget, especially when we look at advancement and development work and fundraising work, that it's just as effective there, because we're now talking about boomers, we're talking about you know, greatest generations. Still have a few of those around, but you know, exers. We've got to really start crafting not only the messaging for those audiences but also...

...the delivery channels that they prefer. And Bill, I think you've made some really good points there that you know, while some of the technology channels might kind of go back and forth a little bit and and you know you're certainly going to have a boomer and an excer that might be listening to serious satellite radio like you, like you mentioned, you're also going to have some more of those traditional elements you're going to have letters that still work in in traditional mailings and things like that, and so we've really got a as marketers, do our homework to understand who the audience is that we're going to be communicating with and the fundraising case or support, to go back to our key topic here today, is the baseline and the foundation for all of that. Whether I'm going to try to fundraise on twitch with a Gamer, which is leading edge right now, or if I'm going to try to get on my local television station community affairs program that fundraising case for support is that same foundation, that same kind of basis of talking points that we're going to use and grow from, regardless of, you know, which demographic and where they consume information. As we approach our time limit, would like to know if there was either a point that we didn't get to that you would like to leave us with, or maybe a quick tip for fundraisers out there that have really benefited from our conversation. Well, I would just encourage people, and you know, obviously we've been through and continue to be in some highly stressful times, whether it is a worldwide health pandemic or what people have talked about. That we're into pandemics with a wonderful reawareness around social and racial justice and reconciliation issues and the the challenges or stresses that sometimes folks can feel can can make people hesitant to fundraise. And I would just tell you from our school our data, not opinions, but our data show this is a great time to fund raise. People are responding and it's not to say that there isn't a lot of economic distress. There is and there will continue to be, but there are still significant number of folks who were able to keep their jobs, we're able to stay healthier, relatively healthy, and see the needs that are around it have been magnified by these twin pandemics and as fundraisers we need not hesitate to still be out there asking. Remember, at the end of the day, philanthropy is a message of hope. We have the audacity to believe that we can make the world a better place and when you're bringing your message to your donor, even over zoom or teams or whatever format that you might be using electronically, they are watching the news and seeing these health challenges and economic challenges and and social concerns that are being brought to the forefront and you're coming to them with a message of hope. We see that in the data. Folks are still responding. Two Thousand and twenty was a record year for charitable giving. Even though we intentionally slam the breaks on the world economy, it was a record year for charitable giving. We see those trends continue. Develop your strong case for support. That doesn't allow you to compete with the other nonprofits? No, we're not in competition. That's a scarcity mentality. It allows you to set yourself apart and meet each donor at their area of specific philanthropic value and motivation. I'm shared. There are many people that you've inspired today. For anyone that would like to either contact you or like more information about the school, what would be the best way for them to get that information or to connect with you or the school? Yeah, couple ways. So my twitter account at underscore bill stand at underscore bill stand I only tweet about fundraising and leadership and somebody could DM me there. Art School's website is philanthropy dot iui Dot Edu, philanthropy dot IU, Eui Dot Edu. Forward slash the fundraising school and, even easier than that, the fundraising school app or where you get your apps are APP is free and with a couple taps of your thumb you can get the information that you need from the fundraising school at the Indiana University, Lilly Family School of philanthropy. Bill, thank you very much for such an inspiring message. I've learned a lot and I'm sure...

...others will as they take in this episode. Bart, do you have any parting words that you like to share? Yeah, I just want to highlight a few things that bill said and I would encourage everyone to go back and kind of read listen to some of the elements of the case statement. I think there was just so much really good information here, but just that idea that the case statement is really what's going to set you apart and it's going to be kind of what that drum beat is. Or as another one of our guests, another Hoosier, I you person, was Eleanor Bierman, had talked about the idea of a North Star, you know, marketing North Star, or that case statement is going to be the North Star for all of the efforts that you're going to be putting into your fundraising, and so keep that in mind as you as a marketer are helping to, as set create that through the stories, through the ways that you're developing that out. And then also keep in mind that as you are being asked as a marketer to help with advancement, to help get the case for support out there, to help with the different needs that come up in advancement and development, make sure that you're really paying attention to the segmentation of who you are talking to make sure that you understand who is it that they're getting ready to go in front of? Are they going in front of a major donor or they going in front of a foundation, a business, so that you can craft the messaging and help them create those stories and those those elements very well. So thank you, Bill for the time today well, and I look forward to your assessment to see how well I'm doing marketing the fundraising school in the school philanthropy. I hope I did that. That sounds great. I think you did. Thank you both. The hired market podcast is sponsored by Taylor solutions and education marketing and branding agency and by thin patented, a Marketing Execution Company specializing in print, digital engagement and direct mail. On behalf of my cohost, Bart Taylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you so much for joining us. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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