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Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE

About Linda

Capital Campaign Case Statement - Continued (Part 5)

This is Part 5 of a series I'm writing on capital campaign readiness. In Part 4, I introduced you to the case for support and how it fits into your capital campaign. In today's article I will talk about how to prepare the case statement, how to involve donors, and how to translate the case into the various campaign documents that will be needed to convey your campaign message to the constituents.

In a Nutshell

This is Part 5 of a multiweek series on capital campaigns by Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE. In Part 1, Linda launched the series with the basic questions, What is a capital campaign, and when do you need one? In Part 2, she discussed the infrastructure needs for a capital campaign. In  Part 3, she discussed human resources needed to support your campaign. In Part 4, Linda introduced the topic of developing your case for support. In this installment, she continues her discussion of the case for support. Linda is the author of two popular books on capital campaigns published by CharityChannel Press, Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? Assessing Your Nonprofit's Ability to Run a Major Fundraising Campaign and Capital Campaigns: Everything You NEED to Know.

Who Should Write the Case Statement for Your Capital Campaign and Where Does One Get Started?

One thing that should always be remembered is that there must be one author of the case statement. Although it is wise to get input from a variety of sources, the case will not flow well if several authors with different styles write it. In many instances, consultants will write the case, sometimes development professionals write it. Occasionally the case is written by a public relations firm or marketing department; however, a word of caution in these instances is that the case is a fundraising piece, not a publicity piece, and needs to be written by someone who understands the psychology and techniques of fundraising.

The sequence for writing a campaign case statement is:

  1. Develop or review the organizational case for support
  2. Prepare a preliminary campaign case statement based on the organizational case for support
  3. Test the preliminary case statement through a planning study or other means
  4. Prepare the final campaign case statement based on input received during the planning study
  5. Translate the case statement into appropriate campaign materials.

It is essential to have the final case statement done before attempting to develop campaign brochures and other materials. All campaign materials must be based on the case statement in order to present a uniform message to all constituents. Even though the materials may be different in format, the message must be the same.

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more about capital campaign infrastructure? Pick up a copy of Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? Assessing Your Nonprofit's Ability to Run a Major Fundraising Campaign, by Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE.Linda goes into much more detail on capital campaign case statement in her workbook, Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? Assessing Your Nonprofit's Ability to Run a Major Fundraising Campaign, published by CharityChannel Press. You can order it from the CharityChannel Press bookstore,, Barnes & Noble bookstore, or at a bookstore near you.

Involving Donors in the Case Statement

The planning study (which will be discussed in more detail in future articles) is the ideal way to test your case statement and to involve donors in the early phases of its development. A preliminary case statement is developed to be used when the consultant interviews people about their interest in supporting the campaign. Sometimes this piece may be referred to as a statement of need or by other terminology, but basically it is the preliminary case. The preliminary case statement may not have all the emotionalism and graphics that will be in the final case statement, but it will have most of the essential ingredients listed in the previous article about case statements, including opportunities for donors to become involved. An essential element of the preliminary case is the scale of gifts, showing donors what size gifts are needed in order for this campaign to succeed. It is important to involve donors in this process, and to show them that leadership gifts are needed if the campaign is to reach its goals. The study is a good opportunity to stress the need for these leadership gifts and determine if the donor is engaged enough to consider a leadership gift. The scale of gifts also shows that all size gifts are important and that no campaign ever succeeds on the premise of getting ‘1,000 people to give $1,000.’ There are always those few who can give at leadership levels, more who can give mid-range gifts, and many who can support the campaign with modest gifts. This is a fact of life in every campaign and it is important to explain this principle to donors early on in the campaign process.

In rare occasions where a study is not done prior to a campaign, it will still be important to involve donors in the development of the case statement. Some ways this can be done are through personal interviews with selected donors to get their input, or through a series of focus groups where the case can be presented and discussed. Involving donors in the development of the case assures that you are on the right track and allows you to get buy in from key donors before the campaign is launched. In some instances, an organization may be heading down a wrong path unaware that its constituents will not be supportive of the campaign. It is best to find this out before the campaign plan is finalized than to find out mid steam that the community will not support this project.

The Final Step in Case Development

The final step to complete the case is taking the information gained in the study, or other processes used to obtain donor input, and finalize the campaign case statement. Sometimes goals will change, named giving opportunities may be revised, or certain aspects of the program may be given more or less emphasis based on the input received. In most instances, there are not dramatic changes to the case. At this juncture, it is also important to test the case to make sure it contains personal stories that will draw the reader in emotionally as well as rational explanation of why this campaign is needed and that the plan is a solid one. You will also want to gather some dramatic photographs, plans for the building, and other graphics that help illustrate the project.

Once the final internal case is completed, it is now time to think about what kind of campaign materials will effectively present the case. Typical campaign materials developed from the case statement include:

  • Grant applications
  • Individual donor proposals
  • Brochures
  • Pledge cards and letters of intent
  • Letterhead and envelopes
  • Response envelopes
  • Website or web page
  • Press releases
  • Campaign newsletters
  • Speeches
  • Fact sheets
  • Questions and Answer Sheets
  • Volunteer training materials
  • Solicitation letters
  • Phone scripts
  • Named gift opportunities forms

Remember that different constituents will want to see different aspects of the campaign and although the way the message is presented will vary according to donor needs and expectations, the message must be consistent in all campaign materials.


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