When it comes to capital fundraising campaigns, the top item on the “list of things to do” is the case for support. Heiko Plange provides some wisdom on producing what he calls the “campaign bible”.
The case for support or case statement is at the heart of every capital campaign. A core document, it establishes the purposes and principal objectives of your campaign, galvanises high-level leadership support, and serves as the basis for all future marketing activities.
What is a case statement?
Without doubt, the case statement is the most important document published during a fundraising campaign. Normally 20-40 pages long, it covers a number of areas fundamental to your organisation and to the campaign itself.
Who uses it?
The case statement is used by board members to interpret and re-evaluate your organisation’s direction and goals; and by campaign volunteers to sell the concept of the campaign at every opportunity.
What’s in it?
Each campaign has its own idiosyncrasies, but generally speaking a case statement contains the following essential elements:
A list of board members and senior executives. This is important for potential donors who want to know who is behind your organisation. A short, one page introduction to “set the scene”. A brief history of your organisation including a concise statement of its purposes and functions and how it has fulfilled its mission or charter. This will be particularly important if its roots are deep and its heritage rich.Why and how did it come into existence? What issues caused its formation? Describe in dramatic terms its incomparable mission, but keep this brief. Remember, you are making the case for the future and for your organisation’s dreams – not its distinguished past! Philosophy. Describe the organisation’s values, its social and demographic setting and who or what was responsible. Be emotive and begin to draw on the “heart strings”. Use tradition to capture the reader’s imagination. The Need. Describe the compelling opportunity and challenge for progress that is presented to your organisation at this time. Write persuasively about the urgency and keep in mind that people are most commonly motivated by what saves lives or changes lives. The Challenge. This is your organisation’s plan for solving the basic problem. Most capital campaigns are implemented to raise funds for a specific project. The project should be described in detail including its dimensions or scope, costs, who will benefit and how. Planning should be fairly well completed before the case statement is issued. Vague and uncertain plans do not inspire. You must motivate the reader to give. Your Organisation. Explain why your organisation is best qualified to respond to the need, meet the challenge and render the proposed service. Illustrate what sets you apart from others and state why voluntary contributions are sought. The Fundraising Plan. Describe how your organisation proposes to raise the required funds. Also, provide evidence that this plan is right and will be successful. Include statements concerning the nature and kind of gifts sought. The Leadership. The case statement must include the names and qualifications of those who will lead the fundraising program, and those who will ultimately be responsible for the program at the end of the campaign, and policies for spending the money. How do you write the case?
In essence, the case statement should be written and designed so the reader cannot resist opening and reading it. Proceed as if addressing the most resistant donor imaginable.
It should be brief and factual, with its logic and arguments aimed at the donor. It should also tell prospective donors what their gifts will do for the things they, the donors, hold most dear.
It must state what is needed and how this is going to be accomplished and, in the end, must motivate the reader to give.
Case statement questions
Here are some questions that can be used as a guide for preparation of the case statement:
Does your organisation have a mission/vision statement?
How is the organisation positioned in the community and what is its heritage?
How does the campaign benefit the community?
Why is a fundraising program necessary?
Does the organisation have strong leadership?
Summarise the key points of your case for support in one page or less. It’s important to finish as strongly as you started and drive home the real need and value of your cause.