You need a case statement.
Most development folk know this. They know they need a case statement which has been “tested” and is characterized by what I term the 3 C’s: clarity, concision, and compulsion. They know they need a case statement because:
- Every organization has a glossy, oversized, impressive case statement, and;
- Donors will make giving decisions based on the effectiveness of the case statement.
Hmmm. If those reasons aren’t convincing, you are not alone.
Your donors really do not need a clear, concise, compelling case statement. What your donors need is a clear, concise, compelling case. Big difference.
Donors don’t make charitable investment decisions based on the quality of the case statement. Donors make charitable investment decision based on the quality of the case. They need to believe in the leaders of the institution, understand, appreciate, and be moved by the need, and be encouraged to act generously by others whom they respect. They need a strong case, not a strong case statement.
But everyday, development professionals pay large sums of money to write, design, and print huge quantities of multi-page, glossy case statements. And about 80% of them end up collecting dust in boxes in the storage room. Sound familiar? Why does this happen? Because we don’t understand the true purpose of the case statement. We think it’s about donors, when it is really about us.
So, if your donors don’t really need a gorgeously produced case statement, why do you need one? Here’s the answer:
Because the process of creating a case statement forges a focused, integrated, and agreed upon message institutional leaders can use to explain the need and importance of the funding priorities. The case statement is primarily an internal document, not an external one.
After that clear, concise, and compelling case has been hammered out, I encourage clients to print far fewer traditional case statements. Instead, I spend time with them identifying strategic communication vehicles to best deliver the case depending on audience and/or constituency. The communication vehicles may be event-based, electronic, print, video, etc.
Yes, you need a case statement. Your donors just may not.