By Peggy Vinson and Bruce Berglund

    Sometimes in the course of working with non-profits, we’ll hear a question like this from a key volunteer:

    “Why do we need to raise more money? We do pretty well now.”

    When we hear this question, it’s immediately clear that the organization, not just the volunteer, does not have a vision or clear path forward. They have a “foggy” case for support.  

    Without a clear, urgent and concise case for support your fundraising efforts will falter. Developing a case for support is deceptively hard work! It’s easy to define what you’re raising money for, but it’s far harder to define the why behind the what. You’ve got to express your case in a way that resonates with your donors and prospects... and your staff and volunteers!

    Foggy cases don’t connect the dots. They don’t clearly define the ROI (return on impact) that will be achieved if the philanthropic investment is made. The sure sign that you are struggling with a foggy case is when your staff or volunteers are struggling to represent the campaign or to ask for support.

    Andy Stanley, pastor and leadership coach, uses a phrase that I have adopted for case work: “When there’s fog in the pulpit there’s apathy in the pew.”

    Foggy cases lead to philanthropic lethargy. To less engagement and understanding. To underfunded campaigns.

    One way to “blow the fog out of the pulpit” is to reframe the conversation. Try asking these questions:

    • What’s the gap between what you’re doing now and what the community needs?
    • What if you had an additional $100,000 (or $1,000,000) per year? What impact could you create with that?
    • Imagine your project is completed and funded. What’s different in your community? Who is impacted? How are their lives better?
    • Imagine you don’t complete this project. Who will be left behind? Where will you have to say “no” to those you could help? How is your mission unfulfilled?

    As you dive into these conversations, you will begin to see where your case isn’t clear or compelling. You’ll find the urgency that it may be missing. And you’ll inspire your team to take action because they will have a clear understanding of the need and the potential of your campaign.

    It’s fundraising malpractice to move out with any fundraising effort with a foggy case. If you suspect you might be suffering from the effects of a foggy case, blow the fog out of the pulpit now and do a course correction. Those you serve and your community depend on it!

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