How to write engaging case studies to demonstrate impact

Dr Saumya Arora About Dr Saumya Arora

Dr. Saumya Arora is a development professional with cross-disciplinary experience in project management, resource mobilization, donor relationship management, community mobilization and project execution at the field level. She is currently working towards building fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of community-based organizations, apart from developing functional linkages with donors across the world.

A case study is a very important qualitative method of capturing impact. It is an approach to qualitative research with focus on specific in-depth analysis of a particular case, incident, story, or event. For NGOs, case studies reflect successes of a particular program(s) in terms of changing people’s lives, with ‘voice’ of the people impacted. Well-researched and well-documented case studies win hearts, and may even win donors!

So here are a few tips on how to write engaging case studies to demonstrate impact of your work:

  1. Start right:

Set the pace of the case study right from the beginning. Start off at a very interesting note; create a mental image for the reader about the situation. Or, start with emotionally engaging note, surprise element or shock element. For example, “Nikita was very scared to go to school because she was bullied by her classmates and teased about her mother’s profession, sex work.’’ Make the opening lines attention grabbing, so that the reader is intrigued and bound to read further.

How to write engaging case studies

  1. The ‘before’ and ‘after’:

Case studies are all about the ‘change’ brought about by your work or program. Include the situation prior to the program, to demonstrate the differential impact. The situation prior to the program, the specific help or work, or intervention for changing the situation, and the changed picture are the three main elements of a case study. Make sure that the overall flow of the case study includes all three.

  1. Include specific information:

Specific information does not mean including confidential beneficiary information. Names of persons, places, etc. can be changed to protect the confidentiality of the information of beneficiaries. Yet, changed names and other information can be included to give a spin to the story, speak about the impact in ‘people’s voices’, and to make the story engaging for the reader.

These 3 simple basics of writing a case study can make demonstrating the impact of your work easier, more engaging for the reader. Case stories reflect the inspirational people, incidents and events, and the reader starts trusting your work as well. These readers may trust you to enough to donate and contribute towards your cause in future, you never know!

Steps to write a crowd funding pitch

Crowdfunding for non-profits, social enterprises, start-ups and other causes and organizations has been really successful method of raising funds recently. Many organizations have gained a lot from successful crowdfunding campaigns, and their ventures have taken off with the help of these resources. A crowdfunding pitch is the first level of contact with the donors/ funders and the general public. It is very important to create a pitch that clearly spreads the word about your work, while conveying what change a donor or aid can bring about.

Here are 5 simple steps to create a clear and succinct, short and effective pitch for crowdfunding. We will use examples to understand each step:

  1. Introduction:

First, introduce the situation briefly to set the context. Give a brief about the broader scenario, the extent of the problem at hand. You may also use numbers or other data here.

Example: “India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world with 2.4 million Indians accounting for about four out of 10 people infected with the deadly virus in the Asia—Pacific region’’, says a UN report. Among the states in India, Maharashtra has a very high HIV prevalence of 0.40%, which is even higher than the national average of 0.35%.”

Now the reader knows the extent of the problem at hand, and the seriousness of the situation. 

  1. Now explain what problem you will address:

“For HIV-AIDS patients in Maharashtra, it is a very difficult situation. A penniless, Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), which distributes free drugs to HIV patients, has medicines and condoms supply left for just a few weeks! With no funds, the MSACS issued a circular to NGOs to cut down on 25% of their work force which distributes syringes, medicines and kits to AIDS patients, till March 2016.

This will have drastic consequences in the fight against the disease, especially since Maharashtra has as many as 3 lakh HIV and AIDS patients who might be left without treatment as the free medicine distribution programme is set to run out of medicines very soon. The supply of testing kits and anti-retroviral drugs (medicines to treat AIDS), has been erratic since December 2013. As the HIV drugs are very expensive, more than a third of HIV and AIDS patients seek free anti-retroviral drugs from government centres.”

It is clear now that your crowdfunding pitch is focused on solving this problem.

  1. Involve the reader: use attention grabbing headlines:

Use shocking scenarios to make the reader understand the gravity of the situation in simple terms. Example in the current context: “Just imagine, a disruption in the treatment of an HIV infected pregnant woman will result in the child getting infected with HIV in the womb.” 

  1. How do you aim to solve the problem:

Now come to the solution, and what you do, what you aim to do and how you will do to address the problem. “Organization XXX is an NGO/ YY established in 1975 by Mr/ Mrs/ Dr…….. is committed to the betterment of lives of people living with HIV AIDS, their families and communities and is able to achieve this by support from some national and international agencies, and with the help of passionate individuals like you. With your help, we can help these individuals in getting access to the treatment and medicines for HIV AIDS, so that they and their families live with dignity and safety.”

  1. How the reader can help??

This is the most important part of the funding proposal and pitch. The reader now looks for ways to support your work or organization. He/ she needs to have simple, precise yet adequate information about how he/ she may contribute. Make sure you ask for what you need very clearly. Ways and methods of payment, communication and feedback must be also made very clear here.

Example in this scenario: “How you can help save lives – by financial contribution in the following ways:- 1. Mention amounts- with flexible options for the donor. 2. Modes of contribution: Online payment (Netbanking/ Payment Gateway)/ Cheque/ DD. 3. Please find attached the details of our work against HIV AIDS. You may visit our website ________ for details. 4. Do write back to us or contact the undersigned on the address/ telephone number given below in case you need any clarifications. 5. Conclude and thank: We look forward to join hands with you against this deadly disease, and thank you again for your intent to contribute towards this noble cause.”


  1. Maidah Mamoudou Oumar says:

    For some one who wishes to impact lives of people he is assisting, I find intersting your write up
    However training and capacity building opportunities are areas of interest and lookk where ever
    opportunities are available for intellectual building

  2. Wadlihok Jones Nongrum says:

    Thank you so much Madam Arora, every time you write something on this site, it is something which I been planning to do. We are a small organization working in the north east for the last 17 years,and we are planing to do a write up of our a work and to also put in case studies as well, and we will follow your suggestions, and also we are planning to do an impact assessment of certain areas where we have work for the last 22 years or so.

  3. Owino Ogolla says:

    Very reourse ful thanks and send me more on my mail

    • Deepika Singh says:

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