The importance of a map (less better known as a case for support)

road mapMy mom heard a roar come from the front room of the house. She knew it was coming and had tried to get some distance. I was just a little girl – probably about two or three – so I only know the story through what people had said.

You see, my mom wanted to go to Connecticut to visit her father – and had somehow convinced my father that Connecticut was ‘on the way’ from Indiana to North Carolina. The roar came when my father realized how ‘on the way’ it was. It all turned out fine and became one of our family stories that we still get a chuckle about occasionally.

In the nonprofit world, a ‘case statement’ can serve as a map of sorts. While it’s no longer commonly used as the go-to fundraising piece, it is a great source of information for other materials and documents. And, in some cases, it is still a great piece to leave with potential supporters. Here are the parts that I encourage my clients to put in their case statements:

  • Introduction: Start with a story of one person that your organization has helped – and how you helped them. This is in addition to an executive summary of the overall case.
  • Needs Statement: What issues in the community is your organization addressing? I recommend picking between three and five to do some in-depth research on. Statistics can be very helpful in this section. This is your opportunity to educate readers about the why behind what you do.
  • About the Program(s): In addition to including a broad overview of how the programs operate, also include information on how the program addresses the community needs that were outlined in the Needs Statement.
  • About the Organization: What are you uniquely suited to do the work you do? Have you won awards? Been recognized by your peers? Already seen results? Does your staff have credentials and experience that will help the program succeed?
  • The Cost: What will it cost to run the program(s). Overhead costs are a legitimate cost of doing business, so you’ll want to include them in this cost estimate.

So in addition to serving as a communication tool with donors and a source for other documents, the case statement can serve as a roadmap for the organization and can help you stay focused on the impact on the community.

Developing a case statement is just one step in planning for fundraising success. Introducing people to your organization, engaging people in the work that you do and having systems in place to ensure that donors are thanked properly are just a few others. What else do you do?

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