Case statements can be long and comprehensive, short and sweet, just-the-facts or something in between. These subjective decisions are typically made by a few designated individuals. Once in a while, a nonprofit will pull in the whole board to attempt consensus. Whatever the method, the opinion that matters most is the reader’s, a.k.a. the donor prospect. After hearing from thousands of campaign study participants, here’s what we’ve learned about their preferences:
They want the case to be “shorter”
Unless it’s a one-page document, you’ll always hear: “I wish it had been shorter.” Which may mean, “I didn’t read it.” Often, this is because the pages were too text heavy, the font was too small, or the photos were too few or not big enough. There wasn’t enough white space to give the eyes a break. Sometimes it means there was too much they already knew (about the nonprofit) and too little they didn’t see (about the nonprofit’s clients and campaign).
They want details on how the money will be spent
Readers/prospective donors want to see a reasonable breakdown of expenses. The budget doesn’t need to be a set-in-stone, down-in-the-weeds itemized list, but a million-dollar goal for programs will need some details. Will you be expanding existing programs? Adding new ones? A little of both? If you’re raising money for a new facility, where will it be located? And if it hasn’t been determined, say that. Anticipate questions, and answer them before they’re asked.
They have strong opinions about the photos
Feedback on photos is usually, “Love the photos!” or “Why didn’t you use your clients’ pictures instead of stock photos?” A few nonprofits may need to purchase pictures due to client privacy, but most have the ability to use their own. However, pictures should be worth thousands of words. They should tell a story and be compelling – nothing posed, blurred or poorly taken; and they should have a high-enough resolution to be enlarged, so the design is open and easy on the eye.
Nonprofit staff, board members and leadership will have a wide variety of preferences and perspectives, but everyone will benefit from keeping these three targets in mind: shorter, more details, great photos. Case closed.