Funders are important stakeholders as they “invest” in your organisation based on the impact you make on those you serve. They invest in projects where there is a high chance of success and the return on their investment is high. However, to ensure you retain this investment, you need to continually make a case for funding as not every funder understands your organisational goals, the strategies you use to achieve them, the impact you generate and how best practices are being employed to achieve desired levels of impact.
A case for funding can therefore be a combination of empirical, emotional, or intellectual information that shows your organisation is making a difference. If funders don’t get the information they are looking for to make an informed decision, they may seek to redistribute that funding to other organisations that do offer the right information. This blog will expand on five types of information that you can use to build a good case for funding with your investors so that you ensure you are giving them the information they need. These five areas are broken into two major categories: emotional information and intellectual information with both being just as important as the other.
Emotional Information (Non-Empirical)
All information provided to investors doesn’t necessarily have to be raw numbers and empirical data. Information can be inspiring, emotional, and anecdotal. Two types of useful emotional information to present to your funders are your “passion” and stories about your programs and services.
Your passion is the reason you are involved with your organisation or your purpose, or put simply “your why”. Whilst the what and how of your work are important, an investor’s emotional motivation toward your organisation is mainly driven by “why” you do what you do, not what you do.
Passion is important because it is an emotional hook to connect you and your organisation to those investors “who believe what you believe.” Your passion, your purpose, and your “why” is therefore important information to provide to your funders and should be brief, succinct, to-the-point, easy-to-digest, and easy to connect with.
Storytelling is a process of sharing real-life scenarios where your organisation made a difference. These stories can vary in length, but should be memorable, inspiring, action-oriented, tangible, and most importantly, they should be real. Stories also have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Your successes can be anecdotal stories that illustrate and clarify the impact you make by presenting a “real-life” scenario.
A story is important information because it is tangible and gives context to the impact your organisation makes in a way that is approachable and understandable to all. So you can start out by presenting information on your purpose and your “why” and then reinforce this with a story that resonates and builds an emotional connection between the funder and the success of your organisation.
Intellectual Information (Empirical)
Intellectual and empirical information in the form of data, statistics, performance measurements, and metrics is also important because it solidifies a case for funding by proving that your organisation actually does what you intended it to do. It goes beyond anecdotes, stories, emotions, beliefs, and assumptions and presents hard facts using outputs, outcomes and impact.
Outputs are the direct products or services resulting from your program or activities, which is usually the “how much” or the number of people, places, supports or activities your program has produced or delivered to meet a need (e.g., number of clients served, number of people that attended a class etc).
Outputs are important because they communicate the scope and scale of your programs and services. They outline the number of lives you touch. Investors want to see that you are addressing needs and have scale to match a need in a given market. Outputs, however, are a pure count and cannot ascertain the quality, proficiency, or effectiveness of the programs or services delivered. This is where outcomes come into play.
Outcomes go one step further than outputs and describe the overall changes in attitudes, values, behaviours or conditions of wellbeing that we want for our clients and/or the community as a whole. Outcomes answer the questions – how well did we do it and is anyone better off, which are far more important than simply “how much did we do”?
Outcomes are important because they answer the “so what” question that comes about when output statistics are presented to investors – You produce X output and address Y% of the need, but “so what?” Is there proof that the needs you address are actually achieving stated goals? So, outcomes are defining the performance of your organisation, which is useful information to investors who want to see a return on their investment or how their investment translates into X value of outcomes from the work you do.
Impact is the result that can be directly attributed to the outcomes of a given program, once you factor out other possible explanations for how these results came to be. Impact is the longer-term outcomes that are achieved from the activities, outputs and outcomes of an intervention, program, organisation or sector. It is the ultimate effect or “dent” that your organisation is able to make on your target population or community at a macro level (e.g., increased economic value, reduced monetary costs, reduced human emotional costs, and increased quality of life).
Impact is important as it takes outcome data one step further. It shows investors the ultimate and empirically driven return on their investment. However, it takes a significant amount of intellectual, monetary, and time based resources within an organisation to uncover, but it is well worth it when making a case for funding.