Grant writing case statements are a beautiful thing.
If you’ve never used one for grant writing before, it’s time you started and this blog post is going to show you how useful they are and exactly how to incorporate them into your grant writing for maximum success.
First, a little primer for anyone who may be new to using case statements in a grant writing context:
Case statements are documents wherein you make your case for supporting any programs or projects, or even the organization and its mission as a whole. Most nonprofit professionals have heard of case statements (sometimes also commonly called a ‘case for support’) in the context of traditional fundraising campaigns, but they absolutely can, and should, be used for grant writing, too!
When it comes to grants, think of a case statement as a living document – meaning that it should grow and evolve along with whatever program/project/organization its meant to support.
Now that you have a bird’s-eye view, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
The case statement should contain….
- answers to the most commonly asked questions found in grant applications
- a coherent storyline that’s woven throughout the sections/answers
- relevant data, research, and statistics incorporated in logical places throughout which supports the need for your project/program/organization
- relevant data, research, and statistics incorporated in logical places throughout which supports the approach your org is taking to address the need
- Information threaded through the narrative sections which underlines why funder support is needed to make the project/program a reality or to keep the organization running
One last note on the data, research, and statistics you choose to include in your case statements: make sure the age of the sources makes sense relative to whatever point you’re trying to make.
For example, if you are trying to use local data to show how much a neighborhood has changed economically in the past few years, you don’t want to use data that’s too old. Instead you probably need some data from a few years back to compare with recent data from this year or last year to help you make your case. Or maybe you’re citing studies that show how arts education benefits students in the long-term. For that sort of purpose, you could use landmark studies that are older but should also be using more recent sources from within the past 5-6 years to shore up your argument and show that it’s still accurate and supported in contemporary research. Use some common sense when choosing your sources and you’ll be just fine.
Let’s get out of the data weeds and back to the main subject of case statements.
Creating a case statement, filling out the sections, and keeping it updated means that you always have content from which you can pull to create compelling grant proposals. However, it does not mean that you should just copy and paste from your case statement and call it a day.
Remember that each grantmaker you approach will have differing priorities, different criteria for evaluating proposals, and different needs and expectations in a nonprofit partner. Although case statements are fantastic starting points for creating solid, highly fundable grant proposals, you absolutely should still make the effort to customize every proposal to the individual funder and RFP in question.
Specifically, make sure that you revise your wording to answer the actual question. Different funders will phrase questions differently and sometimes the devil is in the details. Re-read the questions every single time and make sure that you have truly understood any nuances to their phrasing and gotten to the core of what that grantmaker wants to know. Sometimes this may also mean that additional research will be needed or you may need to talk to others in your organization to gather the information needed for a substantive answer that’s appropriate for their question.
Customizing your proposals, letters, and attachments from the case statement is 100% necessary, so don’t skip it. This can often mean the difference between getting an award or a denial.
I use case statements with almost all of my clients because they’re such great tools. They allow you to organize your thoughts and data into a thoughtful narrative and keep you from completely reinventing the wheel each time you start working on a proposal. Because they can save you so much time, this also means you can be more agile in responding to grant opportunities. With a thorough grant case statement, you may be able to submit a proposal with a tight deadline when you otherwise couldn’t have pulled it off. They’re also great for getting everyone in your organization, as well as any outside collaborators, on the same page and preserving all-important institutional knowledge about your organization’s programs and operations which can then be used a variety of purposes (e.g. marketing pieces, PR pieces, fundraising campaign letters, website copy, and more).
I’m a true believer in the power of a good case statement and hopefully, you’re on your way to being one, too.
But in true CNPS fashion, I like to make things as easy and painless as possible for my readers, so of course, I’ve made you a free tool.
If you’d like a super-easy way to get started with grant writing case statements, just click the button below to download your case statement guide. It comes with a quick explanation of what a case statement is, a list of some common documents and attachments you should also plan to compile for your grant writing efforts, and a template to fill in to create your first case statement.
And don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on case statements, whether or not you’ve found them useful, and what other tools you might like to see CNPS offer.