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Writing a Great Case Statement

Answer These 5 Questions for Your Case Statement

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What Is a Case Statement?

Every fundraising campaign has the Case Statement at its center. It is the core document that sits at the center of your plan and strategy.

The Case explains to your potential donors what you need the money for, and what the benefits will be if the donor gives to your cause. Case Statements can be used in any fundraising campaign, but they are particularly useful in major gift campaigns, capital campaigns, and endowment campaigns.

Who Is the Case Statement for?

Your case statement should appeal to a wide range of your supporters, or stakeholders. It should be directed at both external and internal stakeholders. The Case should be as understandable to your organization's receptionist as it is to your wealthiest prospective donor.

What Should the Case Statement Accomplish?

Bernard Ross & Clare Segal, in their immensely useful book, The Influential Fundraiser, point out that a good case needs to answer these five key questions:

  1. What is the need? Specify precisely what the need is, and who exactly will benefit when that need is met. Be sure to make the need manageable so that supporters will feel that they can make a difference. Global poverty is too big for an individual to get his arms around. But he may be able to save an individual or help a family.
  2. What evidence is there that this is a pressing need? Make it clear that the need is now, and that it needs to addressed soon. Include surveys, expert opinions, or statements from the beneficiaries.
  3. How is your organization uniquely qualified to tackle this need? While there may be several organizations that could tackle this issue, what is special about you? Is it your track record, the newness of your approach?
  4. What will be the benefits of your action? If you take action now, what will be the positive consequences, both major and minor? What can be guaranteed, and what is possible?
  5. What are the negative consequences if you fail? Sometimes this is the strongest motivator for donors, so lay out clearly the major and minor negative consequences if you do not act.

What to Avoid

Ross and Segal also say that the biggest problems with cases is that they are too internally focused; are too long; and are too fixed.

Write your case for your donors and supporters, not your internal organization. Although cases will be reiterated in various forms and formats, make sure that the "nut" of your case is simple and easy to express. Don't fix your case in stone. Major donors, particularly, will not want to see a finished plan to fund. They will want to be involved in its development. Give them space to contribute their ideas, thus strengthening their engagement.

Finally, use your Case Statement to guide your other fundraising materials, such as your direct mail materials, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, proposals, emails, news releases, and newsletters.

Recommended Resources:

The Influential Fundraiser, Bernard Ross & Clare Segal, Jossey-Bass, 2009 Compare Prices

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