The Guide to Creating a Perfect Nonprofit Case Statement
A nonprofit case statement is a summary of your organization’s work. Think of it as an elevator speech. Salespeople can spend hours, even days, perfecting their elevator speech before making a sale. As a nonprofit fundraiser, you should spend no less time on your case statement. Case statements are helpful in several scenarios but can…
A nonprofit case statement is a summary of your organization’s work. Think of it as an elevator speech. Salespeople can spend hours, even days, perfecting their elevator speech before making a sale. As a nonprofit fundraiser, you should spend no less time on your case statement.
Case statements are helpful in several scenarios but can be especially helpful when connecting with potential sponsors or reaching out to major donors during a capital campaign. The article will explain what you need to include in your nonprofit case statement and how to make it stand out in the crowd.
A case statement is a valuable tool for nonprofits to explain their purpose and impact. The point of these pieces is to show how your nonprofit is different and how donor gifts help you make a difference. Case statements can be used for major donor appeals, corporate sponsorship proposals, and even added to the website to appeal to a larger audience. Nonprofits may assume sharing their mission is enough, but they can tell compelling stories and share images using brochures, website pages, and annual reports with a strong case statement.
Case statements can be any length. Organizations get the best results when these case statements are targeted towards specific campaigns and appeals.
We understand creating a great case statement (especially for the first time) can be a little tricky. Therefore, Donorbox nonprofit coach Cara Augspurger talks about the persuasive power of case statements to inspire nonprofits in the podcast episode below. Take 10 minutes and give this a listen –
What are the Essential Components of a Great Nonprofit Case Statement?
Great case statements include more than just facts and figures. You may have educated millions of children without explaining why and how. The number feels unimportant to many donors, no matter how large. When creating a case statement, a few aspects must be included.
1. The problem
You’ve built a nonprofit to address a need. Here is where you must share the depth of the issue with your donors. If you’re addressing homelessness or poverty, there are statistics everywhere you can include in your case statement.
Other needs may be more difficult to highlight. In these cases, you can look at your mission and discuss the original purpose with board members to come up with a convincing reason for your existence.
2. Why you are different
There are probably hundreds of other nonprofits committed to addressing the same problem. How are you different? Have you been around for a longer time? Do you have specialized skills or a new way to address the problem? When developing your case statement, be sure to focus on this section to help your organization stand out to the donor.
3. Your beneficiaries and their stories
This section is probably the most important. Honestly, donors do not care about your nonprofit’s history. They care about the people you’re trying to help. Giving your supporters compelling stories that share the results of their gifts automatically catches their attention and connects them with your organization. Nonprofits can share these stories with letters to donors or even video interviews. Tales that reveal how an individual’s life improved thanks to the donors’ gifts will have the best results.
4. How donations are used
After sharing stories and images that catch the eye, it is time to explain exactly how donor funds are used. People and companies are not exactly jumping at opportunities to give their money away. Donors are more aware than ever before and want to know their donations are going where they’re most needed. Your nonprofit can give them peace of mind in your case statement by specifying how your organization uses its gifts.
For example, if your organization provides education, break it down.
How many students have been benefited?
Which are the age groups you’re helping?
What are you teaching?
What products are being provided students with for the best education?
These details are only part of the way to address donor concerns. Other information you can provide like how many students graduate each year and what their prospects are for the future, thanks to your organization. By addressing both the now and future for these students, you flesh out the need for your organization.
5. Why people should trust your organization
Trust is critical to donor giving. After giving your supporters an in-depth explanation of how their gifts help, your organization can address additional trust concerns in a few different ways.
Stories from beneficiaries are not the only ones your case statement should include. Find a few donors willing to share their experience with the organization. Ask them why they originally came to the organization, what responses they receive from the nonprofit after giving, and how communication is between them. Peer reviews give donors assurance that you will treat them well.
Also, by sharing ways your organization looks for donor opinions and advice to improve the organization, you can entice more involvement.
5.2 Transparency websites
Companies like Guidestar and Charity Navigator give donors financial and program information on nonprofits. These websites also rate nonprofits on financial, accountability, and transparency. Adding this rating to your case statement will ensure that donors trust your nonprofit.
How to Best Structure a Nonprofit Case Statement
Case statements can be beautiful brochures or shared online. Adding images and infographics can make your piece more compelling and easier to understand. Remember to include other facts and stories to draw the attention of different donors.
Here’s how you should structure the perfect case statement for your nonprofit.
1. Start with your mission, imagery, and a tagline
Start with your mission and a suitable picture to grab attention right away. In the image below, the picture can melt one’s heart while the line underneath gives a powerful yet concise view of the mission. The below example has been taken from Outta the Cage‘s case statement.
2. Letter from leadership
Letters from your organization’s Executive Director or Board Chairperson provide transparency and trust for your donors. This letter should acknowledge donors’ efforts to help the organization reach its mission and share the nonprofit’s vision for the future. Here’s what Lady Freethinker (LFT) has added to their case statement.
3. Tell your nonprofit’s history
Mention details about your nonprofit, the past, the locations impacted, the growth, and the story. The picture below is a great reference. They’ve included a map as well to portray the words through imagery. Here HDF does a great job at displaying its history with a map view and a heart-warming image.
4. Say what you do
Here is where you want to explain exactly what your organization offers. But it is important to not make it descriptive and too lengthy. Turn it into an infographic that keeps the amount of text to a minimum and concisely depicts all aspects of your work. We love how Asia for Animals Coalition (AFA) does it through dedicated sections and links to the respective pages.
5. Show the impact
Share details on how your organization has already made a difference. This is the perfect place to add an infographic with facts, numbers, percentages, and more that matter to donors who make the impact possible. The below image should be a great reference for you.
6. Let people visualize your goals
Your vision is big and you’re relentlessly pursuing it so it comes true. But sponsors and donors must believe in your dreams and the vision, and for that, they must visualize it as you do. Let them know your goals, near and far ones, tell them how you want to meet the goals and reach the vision. Make them feel like a part of this vision.
7. Build transparency
Add some testimonials here or throughout the case statement. Share any awards or reviews your nonprofit has received from reputable websites. Highlight them with pictures of donors or logos of websites. They should grab attention and offer transparency to the organization.
8. Mention ways to give
This is vital! After donors read through the case statement, they are primed and ready to give. Here is where you want to share exactly how you want them to support the organization. If your organization is in the middle of a capital campaign, here is where you’ll want to give specific details on how to help your efforts.
Also, add ways to donate to your general giving campaign – the different methods, the events that are coming up, any crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaigns, and other ways to get involved.
Case statements are one of the most powerful tools a nonprofit can use to raise funds. Whether you need it for a capital campaign or general donor communications, your case statement must explain the need and details on the people you help. Throughout your case statement, find ways to address the donor’s or sponsor’s hesitancy with testimonials and assure them that you could not fix the problem without their support.
When you share ways to give, a great way to increase donations is to direct or link to an online donation page. Donorbox is one of the most affordable options and provides nonprofits with customizable online donation forms and other advanced features. To learn more about what we have to offer, visit our website.
Read weekly fundraising tips and resources on our nonprofit blog and subscribe to our newsletter.
Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.