Text to Donate – Grassroots Style
July 27, 2011
Putting the Fire Back in Board Service
August 10, 2011

Cooking up a Case Statement

So, you think you don’t need a case statement?  It’s cumbersome and smacks of being “old school”?  No so!  You DO need a case statement and here’s why.  The process of creating a single source document for your fundraising messages is vitally important.  It helps build internal consensus around your social change strategy, which in turn lends incredible focus to your external communications.  Furthermore, it’s a powerful thing to have a consistent “authorized” story that your staff and board can tap into for all their donor relations work.

Last week, Front Range Source guided a session at Community Ventures entitled “Cooking up a Case Statement.” Here’s what we talked about…

What exactly is a case statement?  It’s a primary resource document that guides your donor communications.  It does not have to be a printed brochure, but it sometimes gets presented that way.  It does not have to be for a campaign, although campaigns usually involve one.  It is an argument (case) for why supporting your organization NOW will achieve the social priorities of the reader.

Most importantly, a case statement presents a compelling CALL TO ACTION for prospective donors.

A good case statement is externally focused.  It should not talk about your financial needs first, but rather the needs of your clients.  The foundation of your case (the “cake” as it were) includes:

  • The problem/opportunity to be addressed (e.g., child abuse, hunger, housing, etc.  The problem is never “we need more money”!)
  • The proposed solution to the problem (e.g., education, intervention, etc.)
  • The unique role of your organization in addressing the problem
  • Your credibility – track record, history, leadership
  • A vision for how the world will be better because of your work
  • Your organization’s mission and goals
  • A description of your programs and what’s special about them this year
  • A CALL TO ACTION (please give…NOW)

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of these elements are similar to what you’d include in a grant proposal.  But, be careful that you don’t end up with a dry, academic document.  You need some icing for the cake.  Your case should include compelling statistics and inspiring stories.  Start strong and end with a good close. Quotes and testimonials are fabulous.  And be sure to write it in a conversational tone.

As for the process, it must be inclusive.  We don’t mean that you write the case by committee.  That’s a very, very bad idea as you know!  Rather, we mean that you work with the key players at your organization to reach agreement on the key messages.  Then designate a writer to turn those key messages into prose.  Limit the number of people who can participate in editing and approving the prose document.

Finally, test your case!  Have external reviewers provide feedback.  They may be donors, prospects, clients, your grandmother, or whomever you can convince to give you their time and honest opinions.

We’ve attached two sample cases.  The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County has developed a designed piece for a specific fundraising initiative. The Golden West Foundation has developed a simple Word document that captures their story which they can share as is or draw from for letters, brochure language, etc.  Thanks to both of these wonderful local organizations for sharing!

 

 

 

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