Spotlight Your Story: 3 Tips for Writing a Dynamite Case for Support

Gambling isn’t really my thing, but here’s a bet I’d take any day:  Even if you do not have a single word written down on paper, the ingredients for a great case for support (aka case statement) are floating around your organization right now. Successful fundraising depends on a compelling case for support.

Most definitions in the world of nonprofit fundraising lingo distinguish between “Case” and “Case for Support” (or Case Statement). According to AFP’s Fundraising Dictionary:

  • Your case is the reasons why your organization both needs and merits philanthropic support, usually stated by outlining the organization’s programs, current needs, and plans.

  • Your case statement is a presentation that sets forth your case.

For you, I like this definition best as it will help guide your creation of a dynamite case for support:

Your case statement is the compelling story of WHY your organization exists.

Your case is a bedrock ingredient of your fundraising program. You literally cannot raise money without one. Yet, many nonprofits fail to take the time to organize a good case and get it down on paper to create a strong case for support.

Full-blown case statements often include sections on organizational history, financial needs, etc. But the meat of the case lies in the story you tell about your impact and your vision. Here are 3 key elements to give extra attention as you craft your tale:

The Big Picture

Resist the temptation to dive into the details of your organizations’ programs right away. Zoom out and give your reader a broader perspective. Describe the problem your organization is fighting on a state, national or even international level. Eighty percent of all women in Africa are less educated than men. One in four American children are obese. Lay the groundwork for a larger context. From there, you will drill down (gradually) to your organization’s specific universe.

Key Facts

Sift through your organization’s evaluation results and cull your most compelling data points. Use these in your case statement to prove that your approach is working. Great case statements are a delicate balance of drama, compelling stories, clear descriptions of your work, and cold, hard facts that show your results.

Your Vision

A case for support is a persuasion piece. Donors want to hear and feel your organization’s bold vision for a brighter future. They want to be inspired. A great case for support will invite others to get caught up in your vision, and lend their support to help you fulfill it.

Once you have a solid case for support for your organization as a whole, you can begin developing case statements for individual programs, and all of your case statements will make a great jumping off point for grant proposals. These subsequent cases will be a breeze compared to the first!

For more on developing a case for support, check out “Developing Your Case for Support” by Timothy Seiler, a director at The Fund Raising School, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. There are some good basics in the book, and it’s a great resource for those new to the fundraising profession.

What do you like most about your organization’s case statement? What suggestions do you have for other fundraisers?

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