No grant request is complete without a compelling case statement, which has the power to make your organization stand out among a crowd of other appeals. In the simplest terms, the purpose of a case statement is to justify your need for funds. Your reason for writing is to tell a story of the shared values between you and your donor.

It’s all about your reader

When composing your vision, focus your energies on your audience. Your request for financial help is not about you. It’s about the positive consequences a donor will experience when they give, said Mandy Johnson, UK director of partnerships for Change.org.

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about yourself. You’ll need to give your audience some indication of who you are. But use this information to show your reader that you share the same goals for social change. How does your specific dream overlap with the hopes of your prospective supporters? asked Impact Communications. If you’ve researched your philanthropic prospects, you should already have some answers.

Emotions carry 90 percent of an appeal’s weight, but your reader isn’t going to feel much if you ignore clarity and organization in your writing. Be as clear and direct as possible, and be prepared to integrate data into your narrative, said Fundraising IP. Hard facts lend you credibility, while storytelling connects to readers’ sympathies.

If all of this sounds easier said than done, use the following suggestions as a guide:

Begin with a story

Open with a story about someone who was was helped by your organization. This is a great way to build common ground with your reader. If you’ve done your research, you should already know the goals you have in common with your audience. If you’re submitting grant applications to multiple foundations, consider tailoring your opening paragraph to each unique recipient. Grant management software can help in your segmentation strategy.

State your goals

Summarize who you are and the work you do, but keep it concise. If a blurb sounds like it belongs in a newsletter, that’s probably where it should stay, reminded Gail Perry. Readers only need background to why you’re asking for money.

Now, define a current problem your organization wants to solve. In other words, why are you asking for money? Do you want to offer funding to talented students who would otherwise be unable to attend your college? Perhaps you want to hire art instructors to teach community classes. Maybe there’s a need for expanding a high school’s research library. Underscore the impact of this problem by telling your reader the consequences of going without funding. For example, what will happen if students don’t have access to more books? Empower your prospective benefactors by painting a picture of future success, if you’re to receive the right help.

State your plan

Identify ways in which your organization is uniquely equipped to effect positive change. How are you specifically prepared to tackle the problem you’ve outlined? Beyond convincing your reader that your cause is worthy, you need to give them some faith in you. Share a brief action plan. Don’t fear telling your audience outright how much money is necessary to carry out this plan.

Beyond establishing a purpose, a successful vision will have a unique voice that sets it apart from others. Here’s how to use style and format to distinguish yourself in grant applications:

Simplicity is key

The document should be easy to read, both visually and thematically Your reader shouldn’t have to work to parse its meaning. Case statements are long documents, so keep the paragraphs short. This way, your readers can digest each point without feeling overwhelmed.

Show and tell

Words aren’t the only effective tools in telling a story. Carefully-chosen visuals prompt a powerful emotional response. They also break up large blocks of text, so your document looks clean and keeps your reader focused. Images also provide a home for data points that would otherwise interrupt a story’s cohesiveness.

Don’t lose the connection

Maintain focus on your reader throughout the entire case statement, said Gail Perry. Write in the second person as often as you can! Make sure to use “you” more often than “we”.

Practice makes perfect

Even if a grant isn’t immediately on the horizon, you should have a case statement on hand. If you begin your writing early, you’ll have more than enough time to polish a winning vision.