How to Create a Case Statement for Nonprofit Fundraising
A case statement is a tool often used when asking for a contribution. It’s a short, compelling argument for supporting the nonprofit that can be presented as a brochure, a one-page information sheet, or a glossy folder filled with factsheets, photographs, budgets, or charts. It should be professional, factual, and short enough that readers will read it all the way through.
A good case statement can be used in many ways in fundraising:
After talking about the agency with a potential donor, you leave behind a copy of your case statement for her to consider.
If you need to phone a potential donor, you keep the case statement close at hand as a reminder of the key points to make about the agency.
If you mail or e-mail a fundraising letter, you can borrow wording from the case statement to write that letter or include a copy of the case statement with the letter.
Follow these steps:
Make notes about the following subjects. Be selective; allot no more than 100 words to any of these items:
The history of the organization
The services it offers
The organization’s key accomplishments
Affidavits, reviews, or quotes from enthusiasts who have benefited from the organization’s work
The organization’s future plans
Toss in no more than 50 words on each of these topics:
The organization’s philosophy or approach to providing service
The pressing needs the organization works to address
The ways the organization will measure or recognize its success
Stir in whatever else you have on hand, including
Compelling photographs of the organization’s work
Charts or maps illustrating growth — for example, increasing numbers of clients the organization serves or the increasing geographic area it serves
An overview of the organization’s budget and finances, particularly if the budget is balanced and the finances are healthy
Anything else that shines a light on the agency: publications completed, awards received, testimony given, work it does with other agencies, and so on
State the giving opportunities your nonprofit offers.
The giving options must be clear and not too complicated. Donors want to understand how their contributions can make a difference. Sometimes giving opportunities are linked to the cost of providing services, such as the following:
The cost of immunizing one child against a deadly disease
The cost of replacing one chair in a symphony hall
The cost of rescuing and rehabilitating one injured wild burro
The cost of college tuition for one year for one student
The cost of planting one acre of trees in a reforestation area
Sometimes opportunities are linked to premiums or gifts the donor receives in return. For example:
For a gift of up to $50, the donor receives a coffee mug as a token of thanks. A larger gift is acknowledged with a tote bag.
For a gift of several hundred dollars, the donor’s name appears on a brass plate on the chair the gift has paid to refurbish.
For a gift of $1,000, the donor receives quarterly progress reports from the scientist whose research the gift is supporting.
For a gift of several thousand dollars, the donor’s name is etched on a tile in the lobby of the organization’s new building.
For a gift of several million dollars, the lobby is named after the donor.
When writing your case statement, lead with the strongest points and leave out the less compelling items. Choose a strong writer to draft the piece and then test it on others — both within and outside your agency — to see whether it tells a clear, impressive story.