With so many nonprofits doing important work, it could be very difficult to grab the attention of foundations and supportive services. When preparing to request funding, developing a thorough nonprofit case statement that strongly represents and explains your organization is the first step to building consistent relationships with funders.
A nonprofit case statement is an overview of an organization and includes all of the necessary details to interest a funder in supporting the initiatives.
In this article, we will review those key elements and show helpful examples of case statements from several nonprofits. This may also help you if you are wondering how to format a nonprofit case statement.
What is a Nonprofit Case Statement?
To keep it simple, a nonprofit case statement is a document, created by the nonprofit, that explains why the organization needs financial support and how those funds would be utilized. Potential funders review the case statement to learn more about the organization and make an informed decision on whether to support them or not.
It includes all the information that is fundamental to the organization. Whether it be a written document or a feature on the nonprofit website, it details all important key points to address when someone hits you with the “so, tell me about your nonprofit.”
Case statements differ from the organization’s mission statement. Mission statements are typically 1 to 2 sentences long and briefly state the organization’s overarching goal or goals. Case statements require a bit more time and effort. They answer all questions that may come up when speaking with funders… but before they are even asked (bonus points!).
A nonprofit case statement is also known as a case for support. So think of that name when you are developing this. How can you make a case for support and produce your best case statement? Detailing the mission, vision, and unique qualities of the nonprofit will make for a successful pitch when securing funding.
4 Things to Keep in Mind When Writing Your Nonprofit Case Statement
What goes into a nonprofit case statement? These are the questions to ask yourself (and answer) when developing your holy grail case statement.
1. The Need
What is the need that your nonprofit is working to meet?
Your mission statement and programs both are designed to meet a demand from your community. From inaccessible mental health treatment to mistreated animals, this section spells out the “who” and “why” of your nonprofit work.
You can assume that funders are unaware of the details of the problem so feel free to dive deep! This is your opportunity to convince them that your work is crucial for the population you serve during this time. Research-driven data such as national or local statistics or survey results will help show the severity of the need your organization is working to meet.
2. The work
What work are you doing to meet this need?
You and your team do all this great work, now talk about it! Be sure to thoroughly detail your programs in a concise manner. Yes, you can include more than one program.
When writing about your programs, address some points that show that you are qualified to do the work. Points such as the expertise of your employees or how long a program has been run are all things that show off your program’s successful track record.
When going over the important work you do, try your best to mention what makes your organization special.
You may be so used to your nonprofit’s day-to-day that you tend to overlook what makes your organization unique. These key components speak volumes to your organizational culture and are valuable in the eyes of a funder. Having a bilingual staff, employees going on-site to children’s schools, the center having night hours to accommodate those working late, are all details that make your organization shine and stand out from the rest.
These perks of your organization are additional reasons why your nonprofit should be chosen for financial support.
3. Can funders trust you?
How can you prove to funders that you will use their funds properly?
Giving large sums of money to organizations could be considered risky.
How can the funder trust that their money will be used to help the community? How can they make sure their money will have a direct impact? Try to highlight the following in your answers.
The community you serve are your biggest supporters! Whether you help people, animals, or the environment, there are people that can vouch for you. Testimonials provide a perspective that not even the nonprofit employees have. 2-3 of these stories about their experience with the nonprofit and the help they received or witnessed is the emotional push behind your work.
If possible, try to include images with your testimonials. Sometimes putting a face to a name makes the message more powerful.
To ease funders, it would be best to be prepared with outcomes. In addition to hearing about the organization’s emotional impact, they like to see how many people are being helped and exactly how they are being assisted.
Adding numbers to an outcome creates an attainable goal that funders can rely on when they donate. An example is, “this year our organization provided accessible mental health care to 100 people. 97% of those served showed a reduction in trauma symptoms”.
List your experience with other funders. Private foundations, corporate foundations, and government sources are all reputable names that provide a sense of relief when a funder sees they are not the only one on board. If other funders trust you, why shouldn’t they?
Providing details of how exactly granted funds would be used can instill trust with funders through transparency. Funders will appreciate you being prepared. Instead of waiting until you are awarded to figure out how to use the money, the plan is already in place.
Informing them that the funds would be used to purchase supplies for a workshop or hiring new employees to serve more people will start a conversation. If they like what they see in your organization but are not interested in funding that specific initiative, this allows for discussion of what else within your nonprofit they might want to fund.
4. The Vision
What is the plan for the future?
In the nonprofit case statement, go over any plans for expanding or growing in the future. Even include some goals of the organization. Do you hope to pair up with other nonprofits to expand your outreach? Do you plan to grow your staff and begin new programming? Funders will appreciate seeing that the work is not stopping after their funding is used.
The organization's aspirations are inspiring to them. This is the place to display your passion for the nonprofit.
3 Examples of Successful Nonprofit Case Statements
Nonprofit case statements vary in the way they are presented but usually fall under the “About Us” category on a nonprofit’s website. Below are a few of the best nonprofit case statements.
This nonprofit includes their testimonials on a separate page linked from their case statement. This approach is good to avoid the information getting too cluttered on the site.
They did not include photos of people served due to confidentiality, but they did use photos to break up the text. These testimonials are thorough and really give insight into the person’s life before the nonprofit’s help and how their life has changed since.
This case statement also was successful in gaining the trust of funders by mentioning their data points. In their case statement, Dress for Success claims to have boosted the attendance at their Professional Women’s Group by 36% thanks to their initiatives.
This nonprofit case statement lists their outcomes as recent accomplishments. This bulleted list of details further shows funders that they are extremely productive and financial support would not go to waste. They did a great job including numbers in their impact, giving funders a tangible goal.
The organization’s achievements are in a list format. This is easy to read and acts as a quick reference to see outcome numbers. One example is they “placed 90 residents in new jobs in 2018 averaging more than $16 hour.” These numbers prove that people need their help and they are successful in assisting them. They also help further show that the organization can be trusted with funds.
In this case statement, the programs are right at the forefront. As encouraged earlier in the article, they include more than one program. There are different links for each of their three programs — at the center, within the schools, and throughout the community. These descriptions include the key points of what makes their organization special.
This organization also includes quotes as testimonials for each of their programs. Hearing from schools and community members that they assist adds to the credibility of their programs. It also shows their success and ability to have positive relationships with other organizations throughout the community.
If you're looking to start building your own nonprofit financial statement, get started quickly by using our Nonprofit Financial Statement Template. The template is made in Canva, an an easy-to-use creative design tool. You can jump right in, change colors, add your logo, and adjust the copy so it fits your brand.Why start from scratch when you can use one of our templates?
Wrapping up: What is a Case Statement for Nonprofits?
Now you are ready to develop a perfect nonprofit case statement for your organization!
Once you flesh out the details of the demand the organization is meeting, what makes your nonprofit’s programs unique, the impact on your community, why funders can trust you, and your goals for the future, you are one step closer to securing that funding needed to continue your work.
Something to avoid when writing a nonprofit case statement is selling yourself short! Try to include important details that will entice a funder to collaborate with you.
Refer to our examples for assistance, but the question of how to format a nonprofit case statement is up to however best suits your organization.
Once you have your nonprofit case statement ready, try out our 14-day free trial to assist your organization with finding funding opportunities!