How to Create a Compelling Case Statement

One billion-dollar campaign at a university printed a book, and cradled it in handmade wooden box…

Another produced a glossy, four-color, seventeen-page document on 14x 17 card stock as its case for support…

Still another used hand-made paper bolted between copper plates…

The collection of case statement materials in our office runs the gamut from black text on white paper to multi-media and textured art.  Advances in electronic media have resulted in video portrayals, from personal testimonials of beneficiaries, to 360 degree “tours” of the proposed renovation or new structure, complete with people, animals, and/or art.   

One board member asked, “How can we make our case statement materials so distinctive that it compels people to give transformative gifts?”

For the most part, it isn’t the materials that provide the urgency, but the story your organization tells through its case, and by its volunteer leadership and staff.  Sometimes the most effective way to accomplish this is as simply as possible, a white paper, carefully outlining the need, and conveying the impact of the campaign.

Millions of dollars in the flooring phase of a campaign have been raised with simple narratives, as prospects are drawn in to give their opinion on the need.  If bricks and mortar are campaign priorities, conceptual drawings are a nice addition to help visualize the end result.

One executive director complained to me that at the end of their last campaign she had a closet full of fancy cases for support that were never used.

Another, whose printed case won an award, quickly became an obsolete document as the goal was lowered.

Yet another case statement had to be scrapped when the architectural firm ceased to exist.

Those of us who’ve been around for a while will recall the boxes of VHS tapes that were never distributed.

Prospects have been known to question the outlay of funds from a non-profit for a case statement that gives the impression of opulence or waste.

How does a non-profit set a budget for a case statement?

Generally, a campaign should cost less than 10% of the funds raised, with the larger the goal permitting an even smaller percentage.  Collateral materials should be approximately 1% of the overall funds raised.

When developing a case statement, the designer needs to keep the organization’s mission at the forefront.  Attractive materials that tell the story are important.

Equally important is that the case statement itself doesn’t compete with the organization’s need, or imply that the institution has exceeded an unlimited budget in producing such materials.

Follow these guidelines when you begin to create your campaign’s case statement, and you will be sure to reach your donors more effectively!