The case for support spells out the purpose of the philanthropic support you seek. It is your story, and it should make it easy for anyone to see why they should contribute to advancing your cause. It is used to communicate with your stakeholders and serves as your bedrock throughout the campaign.
Preparing for your case statement
Before you start writing your case for support, collect and organize your information. Include the following:
- Success stories about the people you serve.
- Quotes from people you serve, board members, and community leaders.
- Measurable impact of your organization’s services and programs.
- Project and/or programmatic details.
- Cost estimates.
- Photos, if applicable.
- Organizational information such as vision, strategic plan, and evaluations.
Components of your case statement
Each case component outlined below is an essential part of your case statement and should be addressed.
The components are in no particular order.
|Case Component||What It Must Articulate|
|Mission statement||The purpose of your nonprofit: The social problem you address, and what you do to improve the lives of the people you serve.|
|Vision statement||What the community you serve will be like as a result of the work you do.|
|Problem||What is keeping your organization from achieving your vision? The statement of the problem sets up the solution (and your campaign).|
|Goals||The overall social benefits likely to result from the programs and services that the funds raised will support.|
|Objectives||The impact – specific outcomes that can be measured – likely to result from the programs and services that the funds raised will support.|
|Programs and services||The programs and services your nonprofit will be able to provide to people with the funds you seek — illustrated by stories that show how the lives of those people will improve.|
|Finances||The cost of operating your organization, including programs and services, operations, facilities, and other organizational infrastructure.|
|Governance||The character and quality of your organization, as shown in staff and volunteer leadership, and governance structure.|
|Staffing||The qualifications and strengths of staff.|
|Facilities and service delivery||Available facilities, and the advantages, strengths, and effectiveness of the mechanics of delivering programs and services.|
|Planning and evaluation||Plans for your programs and fundraising, as well as your processes for evaluating your programs and fundraising.|
|History||What have been your past successes, and what have you learned from your past mistakes?|
|Call to action||The “ask”: What, specifically, are you asking donors to do to support your efforts? How much are you asking individual donors to give, and what will be the return on their investment?|
Source: Adapted from Hank Rosso’s Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising, 2003
Qualities of your case statement
The goal of a case statement is to move the potential donor to action and make an investment in your organization.
To do that, it is important that you make your case statement easy to read, and that it engages and motivates the potential donor. When writing your case statement, keep these five qualities in mind:
- Relevance – How real, in the potential donor’s life, is the social problem your nonprofit will be able to address with the funds you seek?
- Sense of the future – How will the social problem you are addressing improve in the future as a result of the funds you seek?
- Immediacy – How urgent is it that the potential donor makes a gift to help solve the problem?
- Excitement – Does your solution to the social problem capture the imagination of the potential donor? Does it motivate the donor to make a gift?
- Importance – How critical is the social problem you are addressing? Why should the potential donor care and make a gift to your organization?
Writing and formatting your case statement
Writing a case for support takes time and practice. You likely will write several drafts before you have your final document. The following tips on writing and formatting may help you communicate your message and connect with potential donors:
- Be personal. Always write in the first-person plural (“we”) and second-person singular (“you”).
- Keep it short. Shorter sentences are easier to read than long sentences. They keep the readers’ attention.
- Keep it simple. Use common words and stay away from jargon.
- Use short paragraphs. Readers can get lost in longer paragraphs.
- Use bullet points.
- Use headings.
- Avoid redundancies and repetition.
- Don’t be afraid of white space; it helps readers sort and digest information easily.
- Use a common and easy-to-read typeface (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman), and make the type large enough for readers to follow.
- Use high-quality paper.
- Create an attractive and compelling cover page.
- Be precise.
- Use quotes; they enforce your story and make it credible.