Case Statement Basics
Case statements are useful for everything from capital campaigns, annual appeals and grant writing.
Tom Ahern, founder of nonprofit communications firm Ahern Communications, Ink, says he writes, on average, one case statement a month for a client. In his session Monday at the AFP 44th International Conference on Fundraising in Dallas, Ahern discussed the basics of building outstanding case statements, including how to gather the right kind of information, how to plan a campaign strategy and a formula for presenting a case in print.
The key to writing a case is to anticipate all of the big questions prospective donors may have about the project, answer them and “put a cherry on top,” said Ahern.
Step one is information gathering. Ahern recommended gathering the following organizational information:
• your vision;
• your values;
• your strategic plan;
• your monetary goal and what that money buys;
• data on those you serve;
• information on emerging or increasing needs;
• the organization’s history;
• all outbound communication;
• news clippings;
• descriptions of programs and services;
• proof that your programs are worth doing and that they work;
• an overview of the organization’s governance;
• staffing; and
He also recommended conducting “key informant” interviews by phone to fill in any blanks in your information.
After gathering information, Ahern recommended sorting it into categories to create an “internal case,” which he described as a database of potentially useful information that’s unedited, confidential and not meant for circulation.
When sorting through the information in the internal case, Ahern says you should ask three questions: Why us?, Why now? and Why you?
• Why us? — What is your organization doing that is so unique and wonderful that people should want more of it and support its new plans?