Before you send that first check...
We may be the best-trained case writers in America. Still, we're not right for everyone.
Ahern Donor Communications writes 6-10 cases a year. The samples on this site are early work. You may arrange a confidential review of recent cases by calling 401-397-8104.
"One word — DYNAMITE." -- Jeff M., chief development officer, re: the case for a new cancer center at a community hospital, 2013
"... wanted to say thanks for your help. Capital campaign going so well. We have upped goal 2x. We are 500,000 from new goal of 3.5 M. Your words and framing are an important element in getting us to this place and I thank you!" -- Virginia S., ED, child abuse treatment center, 2013
Writing a case is a process. You won't "know a good case when I see it." You have to forge a good case with hammer blows. Here's what the forging process entails:
(1) We talk to you about your target audiences.
(2) We conduct "key informant" interviews.
(3) We write a "marketing brief." "Marketing brief" is an advertising term. The brief outlines the case, as we see it. The brief might be 500 words long, maybe less.
(4) You push back. This is a dialectical process. You tell us where we're wrong. And we tell you where you're wrong.
(5) Once we've agreed on an outline, only then do we flesh out the case. The full case will be 1,500 to 2,500 words, more or less.
[below: proposed cover for an air museum case]
Cases are not like other kinds of fundraising documents. They are not grant proposals, for instance. Grant proposals are read by paid professionals. Those professionals will plow through all your prose, no matter how many blizzards of jargon or statistics they encounter.
Cases, on the other hand, are read by volunteers, giving you a few minutes of their precious time. A well-written case for support is something like a magazine article. Anyone can understand it. It's entertaining. It's fast. It gets to the point.
The question you need to ask yourself is this: Are we ready? Do you really know what the project is all about? Do you know who your readers (i.e., target audiences) really are? Are you ready to accept an outsider's view of your organization?
Organizations often call us and say, "We've tried to write the case ourselves. But our story's too complicated!" And we say, "No, it isn't. Because it can't be."
[Below: proposed front and inside cover for cancer center case]
A good case for support has ONE angle of attack. It has one main point it makes, compellingly. Everything else supports that point.
You think your story is complex because you're tangled in the thorns; insiders often are. The Heath Brothers call this "the curse of knowledge" in their business bestseller, Made to Stick.
A good case writer will find a single reason why your mission matters and bend everything else toward that one point of attack.