Building a case to convince major donors

Middle East media

“Andrew did brilliant work taking us through the stages, stimulating and challenging our thinking. It was really helpful having his experience, insight and patience to go through a few detailed discussions. But when an existing supporter sends feedback by saying 'you nailed it', there is no better evidence that this has worked! In addition, having had now two new people committing to support the organisation as a result of reading the new Case for Support, I am more than pleased with the first outcomes of our work with Action Planning.

Jolita Paton, European Director, Middle East Media

Middle East Media (MEM) is a Christian charity that uses creative media to share God’s love with the people of the Middle East. In 2019/2020 we had helped newly appointed European Director Jolita Paton with some strategy and business planning. This had led on to a large rebranding project, developing the brand and key messaging to improve communication between MEM and its supporters.

The branding has been rolled out in 2023 and the next step for Jolita and MEM was to grow MEM’s philanthropy income stream through major donors. In Jolita’s words, “it was natural to go back to Action Planning” for this next piece of work.

The task effectively fell into two parts: first, to develop a major donor strategy; and second, to develop a Case for Support to use with major donors..

Action Planning Associate Andrew Barton took the lead on this project. We agreed an approach whereby our Andrew would do an input session on the Case for Support and facilitate the team to explore some of the key questions that the Case would need to address. The team are dispersed so we ran the workshop online.

The output of the workshop was then written up to give the team an aide memoire as they moved on to writing the Case themselves. Action Planning then reviewed several iterations of the document, noting down comments each time before a meeting to explore things in more depth.

MEM asked over 10 people – staff, Trustees, existing donors and friends – to review the document before it went final, to make sure that the copy was hitting the spot.

The output was a Major Donor Implementation Plan, setting out the financial objective and the key steps for identifying, shortlisting and building relationships with major donors, as well as defining the KPIs for measuring how the campaign is going. It also included recommendations for staffing the project and ensuring that all those working on it are suitably trained and coached along the way.

The Case for Support was a big step forward for MEM. “We always find our ministry in particular very difficult to represent and also, many things have changed since our last Case for Support document,” said Jolita, who continues to use Action Planning as a mentor and sounding board. The new document has been beautifully designed by an in-house designer and 100 copies have been printed.

Consultant’s insight:
A Case for Support needs to speak to the emotional not just the rational and so specific stories that encapsulate the strategy are vital. Causes that seem far away can present a particular challenge. Trying to reduce "social distance" so that the prospective donor really connects with the cause is crucial.

It was a pleasure to work with MEM on these principles and the Case that resulted, together with the plan for engaging major donors, will undoubtedly help to bring in the addition funding that MEM is seeking.

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