Not Your Mother’s Nonprofit Case Statement

case statement

When you work in the fundraising space, sometimes it seems as though you refurbish the same materials. Grants language? Check the latest proposal, or if you are very organized, a master proposal that contains updated language. Impact? Check the annual report. Heartwarming stories? Check your annual appeal letter. While writing can be rewarding, it can also be arduous, painstaking and time consuming. Is there a way that we can spice up our writing without it detracting from our organization’s core messages? 

Let’s revisit the nonprofit case statement. While the case statement, or case for support, is generally viewed as a portion of a large grant proposal or fundraising document, it is a standalone document, and can have multiple purposes. Let’s discuss how this dynamic piece of writing can cover multiple areas of interest and appeal.

What should a case for support contain?

  • Why: Nonprofits are generally excellent when it comes to describing what they do, who does it and sometimes how it gets done. However, we often miss a key component, which is why. Can you articulate the why or purpose for your organization and/or program? This is the first ingredient in developing a robust case for support. Without the why, what is it that will compel a funder to not just donate to your organization or award a grant, but to build support for your work and engage others in your cause. 
  • Vision: A nonprofit strategic plan provides the framework for future organizational activities, and highlights the key goals, objectives, activities and future impact to measure whether your organization is making a difference. The vision is aspirational, but it allows your organization to think big and coalesce others to see what is possible. 
  • Journey: People like to follow a path, so showing how your organization will take people from an organization’s current state to a future state will provide context for what you want to achieve. The journey is a path towards growth and provides the steps for how you will achieve your vision.  

How should it look?

  • Visual: Since people often look at materials on their mobile devices and they’re not printed, a case for support should be visual. This means it should be colorful. Use the organization’s existing color scheme and messaging, and have the same look and feel as other organizational marketing materials. Other visuals such as infographics, photos, and videos (even video links) can draw in a reader and enhance your narrative. 
  • Storytelling: Providing a reader with a first-hand experience, case study or success story, makes the narrative more compelling. Storytelling elevates the written text and allows for a more personalized image of the organization’s needs. These can be included in the text itself, in separate callout boxes or links to other materials where these stories are highlighted.

Think of the case statement as a functional tool to provide more context about your organization to others with limited awareness of what you do. You also don’t need to be a graphic designer to build out something powerful, as there are multiple free design software tools you can use (like Canva).

The case for support is your opportunity to be creative, inspiring and informative. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and you can even modify it for different programs or needs. The point is to be open in how you approach connecting with funders and the general public, and what you will do to connect with others to garner interest.

What will you do to create a case statement that shines?

Nonprofit Sustainability

Rachel Werner, MPA, GPC, PMP
Rachel Werner is the Owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC . She and her team provide grants, fundraising and project management consulting support to nonprofits, government and business entities.
Rachel Werner, MPA, GPC, PMP
Rachel Werner, MPA, GPC, PMP

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By |2020-02-25T15:56:37-05:00February 26th, 2020|Nonprofit Brand, Strategic Planning|

2 Comments

  1. Diana Alonzo Watkins March 11, 2020 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Love the post Rachel, great work on breaking down the case statement for newbie fundraisers and ED’s!

    • Rachel Werner March 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Diana!

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