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Planning your case
Scheduling the work
Five steps and we're done (actual times may vary)

"The case statement looks fabulous. The board reception was a hit and the statement literally received applause. I am a happy camper." -- Lisa B., APR, directing a $35 million capital campaign for a nationally-ranked zoo

"Gary couldn't stop praising the case statement. He was ecstatic over it." -- Bob O., Director of Development, Maryland social sevice agency

If you choose to commission a case statement from Ahern Communications, you will find that the following schedule is pretty realistic. Keep in mind, though, that we are a small, artisanal shop with exacting standards, and demand for our services is high. It may take 2-3 months before we can begin your project, depending on other commitments. Call. Let's talk about your needs.

If you're preparing a budget, FYI, the cost for writing a case for campaigns above a million dollars is typically at least $20,000 to cover our research and writing. A perfunctory case is done with a couple of phone calls. A profound case usually requires a site visit and lots of interviews.

Step One -- Research (1 month)
During this stage, we review everything that currently exists in print about the organization: annual reports, newsletters, articles, press releases, the Web site, etc. That's called "secondary" research. During this stage we conduct "primary" research as well. This typically consists of key informant interviews, focus groups, or even surveys.

Step Two -- Develop a Concept (1 week)
Based on what we learn during the research stage, we then develop a communications concept (or strategy). This concept includes the main selling message (the so-called "tent pole," the most powerful message we have, off which everything else hangs); the supporting messages; and a very rough draft of what the case statement will include, showing headlines. The purpose of the concept is to test the waters: to see what we got right, to see what we got wrong, and to spot weaknesses and gaps. Many cases require more than one concept; three is not uncommon.

Step Three -- Final Writing (2 weeks)
Once the final concept has been approved by the client, we begin the final writing, fleshing out the details. The concept gets refined repeatedly during this stage. Also during this stage, we begin to involve a graphic designer, for planning purposes.

Step Four -- Graphic Design (3 weeks)
Once the writing is fully approved, the graphic designer can start her/his real work: making the piece entertaining, easy to read, visually gratifying, and dramatic.

Step Five -- Printing (3 weeks)
The graphic designer oversees this step of process, exercising quality control.

Zoo_cover.gifCover for Roger Williams Park Zoo $35 million case
Copyright © 2005-2015 & ∞, by Tom Ahern and Ahern Donor Communications, Ink. All rights reserved. Cool portrait photo: Jonathan Feist
10 Johnson Road, Foster, RI 02825, Phone: 401-397-8104, Email: Twitter handle: thattomahern.