This article is adapted from Making a Case Your Donors Will Love, by Jerold Panas. For more information or to order his book, click here.
The French have a term, Mise en Place. It means all the pieces are in proper and perfect order. With this in mind, let’s examine the eight pieces of your case one by one. You’ll find a fuller explanation in my book, Making a Case Your Donors Will Love.
The Title develops the theme and tone. Its inexorable job is to propel donors to turn to page one and your opening paragraphs. No shrinking violet, the title should light the sky with fireworks.
Your Introductory Paragraphs must create an irresistible bridge to the rest of your case. If you lose the reader here, you won’t get her back. Often, a compelling quote in the early part of the case works well.
Write these introductory paragraphs in a way the reader can’t escape your grasp. “Come with me. We’re about to visit with some people you’ll never forget . . . I’ll take you by the hand.”
You can’t begin this journey without leaving footprints. Your readers will follow because you’ve marked the way.
The Irrefutable Case. Here you describe the need and the reason for urgency. It’s important the case become bigger and even more significant than your organization.
You demonstrate in this section that your case is relevant. You make certain it has dramatic and emotional appeal. Most important, there must be a sense of urgency. Time won’t wait. Double thunder!
This is where your case takes flight. If you want your reader to be with you on the landing, make certain they’re involved on the take-off.
Your Unique Position. This section describes how your institution is uniquely positioned to meet the need head-on. You are first and last. No other group touches lives the way you do. You burn yourself into the hearts and minds of your readers.
Waving the Flag. Here you describe the strength of your organization, its history, and mission. It would be easy to stumble here. You’ll need to go to great lengths in this section to make your copy come alive. Your mission is your guiding anchor, but if it’s dry or weighty it won’t make the heart race.
Reinforcing the Urgency. This reminds the reader of how pressing the need is. It must be addressed at once. Martin Luther King called it, “The fierce urgency of now.” Remember, it’s not about your organization. It’s about those you serve. “Every 40 seconds we lose a child to malaria. We cannot linger, we cannot wait….”
Making It Happen. This describes what will be required financially to address the need. The case expresses your dreams and vision with a dollar sign. You’re successful when your reader says, “I believe.”
The Benediction. This provides the close and final blessing to the program. The theme, which has been used selectively, and seductively, throughout, is employed once more for emphasis. You close with psalms of passionate wonder and celebration.
In Making a Case Your Donors Will Love I describe each of these elements in more detail. Don’t worry about making each a separate segment in your writing. You probably shouldn’t. Each will tend to meld together.
Jerold Panas is among a small handful of the grandmasters of American fundraisers. He is considered one of the top writers in the field and a number of his books have achieved classic status. Hailed by Newsweek as "the Robert Schuller of fundraising," Jerry is a favorite speaker at conferences and workshops throughout the nation. He is executive director of one of the premier firms in America and is co-founder of the Institute for Charitable Giving. The very term "philanthropy" would mean less without Jerry's influence. He lives with his wife, Felicity, in northwest Connecticut.
BOOKS BY JEROLD PANAS
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