There are four essential elements to every successful capital campaign: the Case; Leadership; Prospects; and, the Plan. This article will focus on defining the Case and how to prepare a case statement.
The “Case” is the reason for the campaign. It makes the argument of why prospective donors should support the campaign and what the campaign will make possible. Case statements vary in length, depth and scope according to the particular needs being addressed.
It is often helpful to begin with a “Preliminary Case” or “Background Information Statement” either for use in a Feasibility and Planning Study or as a basic outline to build a final case statement. A Preliminary Case statement should be more factual than persuasive, be between two to four pages and include:
- Institutional background and mission
- A couple of key historical facts
- Key statistics and facts (i.e. constituents served, community impact, etc.)
- Affiliations and accreditation (if you think necessary)
- The opportunity
- Description of the project
- Financing plan (including the proposed campaign)
The writing should be brief and succinct with good, simple grammar. Use bullets to outline the project elements. The basic elements of a final case statement should include:
- Mission description or statement
- Brief, relevant history
- Compelling conditions for campaign
- Project description
- Project benefits
- Giving opportunities and forms of giving and donor recognition
When preparing a final case statement, remember to focus outward on community needs and the benefits derived rather than inward on institutional desires. Try to develop eight to ten strong, compelling reasons to support the institution and use these as your guiding principles going forward. It is helpful to focus on writing a case that unfolds in a logical sequence:
1. Background Information
- History of the institution
- Reason for its founding
- Its mission
- Noteworthy accomplishments
2. The Situation Today
- Role of the institution in the community
- Specialized programs and/or services
- Facts and figures regarding its operation
3. The Challenge
- Challenge confronting the institution
- Opportunities for better service
- Demands on the institution requiring a response
4. The Response
- The institution’s proposed plans
- Description of construction, renovations, etc.
- Intended results of the plans
5. Program Financing
- Current sources of funding available
- How the difference could be financed
- Proposed fund-raising campaign
6. Fund-raising Campaign
- Careful planning which led to the study (the process of due diligence)
- Proposed campaign goal
- Total need, if different from goal
- Tax-deductibility of gifts
- Timing of campaign
- Benefits of a successful campaign to the community
Keep in mind that the case is often more important to the asker than the donor. It’s a tool or prop that helps the solicitor relate the organization’s needs in an informed and confident manner. The case often becomes a “word bank” for other materials later in the campaign, especially public relations materials.
In summary, the case statement is one of the four essential elements of a successful capital campaign and must be carefully researched and crafted. Remember to keep the case persuasive and focused toward prospective donors in a manner that makes a compelling “case” for their support.
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Custom Development Solutions, Inc. (CDS) is among the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada. If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.