Making the Case

Making the Case: The No-Nonsense Guide to Writing the Perfect Case Statement
by Jerold Panas

I like Jerold Panas’s writing style. It’s concise and entertaining while delivering great messages. This book does an excellent job of addressing two seemingly paradoxical points. First, he asserts writing, and especially writing case statements for fund raising campaigns, is hard work. Second, he then proceeds to provide the reader with the necessary support, tools, and guidance to make this hard work a lot easier.

Like his other books, such as Asking (also reviewed on this site), Making the Case is written in short, easily read chapters that are far more profound that they at first appear. Re-reading the short chapters is well worth the time investment. There are nuggets of wisdom that may pass by too quickly to be retained the first time around.

The quotes from famous authors about the difficulty of writing are worth the price of the book. Writing is hard work, and writing well is a result of either excruciating agony or divine inspiration. Writing persuasively for a committee (or committees) about a subject of great passion and great financial import only compounds the pressure. Finally, this task is often given initially to someone not accustomed to writing in this way. Panas makes a compelling case for a nonprofit’s fund raising case statement to be tackled by a professional with the experience, time, and informed distance from the charity’s key stakeholders to provide a product that will be effective.

Writing in simple language, always being forward-looking and present tense, leaving nothing unsaid, and writing in a captivating style are keys to case statement success, and Panas uses many examples from his own practice to illustrate the points. Appendices include sample case statement titles (should be gripping to the reader) and sample paragraphs from case statements. These examples should not be expected to be “ready for use.” Each case statement is different, and the language should be original. However, the samples help the reader think more like a case statement writer, and that is very helpful. The appendices also include a case statement checklist and an evaluation tool to help you assess whether your case statement is complete and ready for presentation.

Arguably, the best sample of case statement writing in the book is the book itself. Reading these pages makes me believe I can write effective, inspiring case statements. Isn’t that precisely the reaction we wish from donors reading our own case statements — to identify with the case and be impelled to act?