Making the Case
"Administrative details" may include your list of board members, a detailed history of your nonprofit or even the logistics of how you carry out your work. These may come up later in conversation, but your case needs to whet a supporter's appetite, not give her indigestion.
Tip No. 2: Prove you're doing a great job without getting too statistic-heavy
I love numbers and statistics, but I realize that they often are pretty boring dinnertime conversation. Don't fill your case statement with bullet-point lists of stats. After a few, it's hard to wrap your mind around the message they are meant to make clear.
Instead, find a way to make your statistics mean something. Use illustrations, or break a big situation down into a smaller, representative explanation. Not sure how? Check out this classic explanation of how the world would look if it were a village of only 100 people.
How can you explain the scope of what your nonprofit is doing in a creative, interesting way that gets rid of the overwhelming nature of too many facts and figures?
Time No. 3: Never forget the emotion
Your case statement doesn't have to be the plot for the next Hallmark commercial, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't engage your reader's heart along with his or her head. From the very first paragraph, get your reader feeling like part of the story. Share the need as well as your success so far, showing how your nonprofit is a reason for the good news.
These stories are the Reader's Digest Condensed Book version, to be sure, but they still need to paint enough of a picture that your reader feels like he or she is standing right next to the person you are talking about.
Photos can be used to convey your story, too. A few well-chosen photos that pull the reader into the case can truly be worth 1,000 words.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.