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Case statements, inside and out
The ABCs
Internal cases and external cases

A case statement is your organization's vision ... in print.

This is where you explain to prospective donors exactly what you hope to do and why you need their money.

A good case statement makes it points quickly, dramatically, with compelling logic and unfeigned emotion. And that's just the start. A great case statement stirs the soul. The hairs on your neck rise. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a great case statement.

At the most basic level, there are two types of case statement: (1) the internal case; and (2) the external case.

The external case

Donors only see the external case. Your solicitors refer to it during face-to-face meetings (both during the feasibility study and once the campaign is properly launched).

The external case is also a leave-behind, a so-called "silent salesperson." It can be fancy or not. Some are plain-vanilla Word documents with a few pictures tossed in. Some are "no expense spared," with breathtaking photography and advertising-type headlines.

There's no rule. It all depends on your audience. Sometimes you start with the unfancy version for your "quiet period" solicitations, then graduate to a more spectacular piece once you've entered the "public phase."

Southcoast_case.gifCover for an award-winning external case designed by the internal marketing group at Southcoast Health Systems; for a $20+ million campaign to modernize the emergency wing of a hospital; team-written by Southcoast and AhernComm

The internal case

The internal case, on the other hand, is a source document. It's not for public viewing. It's used in-house by the organization's board, staff and vendors. Henry A. Rosso (esteemed co-founder of the Fund Raising School at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy) calls the internal case a "data base." The internal case is the genetic material from which you build the external case.

The internal case gathers in one document pertinent and up-to-date information about your organization: its services, its unique qualities, its achievements, its plans, its reputation. Internal cases can include anything that might advance your cause: quotes from key interviews, snippets from news articles, statistical data, "competitor" analysis, testimonials from those served.

Why does your fundraising program need an internal case?

You might end up developing many different pieces for your campaign: brochures, appeal letters, newsletter articles, speeches, phone scripts, press releases, website items, etc. They all extract their messages and information from one place: the internal case statement. Having an internal case helps ensure that your communications remain "on message" and help build your campaign's momentum.
Copyright © 2005-2015 & ∞, by Tom Ahern and Ahern Donor Communications, Ink. All rights reserved. Cool portrait photo: Jonathan Feist
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