By Erin Weldon
The Needs Statement
The first step of a funding request is to convince a potential funder that there is a serious, immediate, and unmet need in the community. The needs statement is one of the most, if not the most, crucial aspects of your grant proposal--if you haven’t convinced someone there is a problem, they have no reason to invest in your solution.
The needs statement (also known as the problem statement) answers the question: “What need or problem does your proposal address?” A compelling statement pulls at the reader’s heartstrings, but is backed by statistics and research. Key components of a need statement are:
- Facts or figures about the extent of the need.
In addition, research can demonstrate the extensive impact of the problem you are addressing. For example, if you are addressing a high drop-out rate in high school students, include research demonstrating the long-term negative impact of failing to graduate--higher unemployment, higher risk of incarceration, and poor health.
For example: 10% of all Smith County residents over the age of 65 are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Individuals who suffer from hunger are more likely to suffer from a variety of life-threatening health problems; this risk increases with age, as key nutrients are crucial to preventing many health problems, including diabetes and osteoporosis.(1)
(1) Don't forget to cite your sources! Use MLA or Chicago style.
- Story of the need
For example: Jim, a retired Smith County resident, has trouble making ends meet with his Social Security checks. Some months, he has to choose between paying his extra medical bills and going to the grocery store. He often turns to fast food, which is cheap and easy—but at his last medical check-up, his blood pressure and cholesterol were at dangerously high levels. Jim’s arthritis also makes it hard for him to do basic tasks. Even if he could afford healthy food, it would be a struggle to prepare it.
- What is being done & why it isn't enough.
For example: While food banks do a lot to combat hunger in our community, they are difficult to access for homebound seniors who are unable to leave their houses. In fact, ABC Food Bank in Smith County noted last year that their services reach “only a small portion of those in need.”
Remember, a needs statement always addresses the need of whoever is receiving the services--it does not address what your organization itself needs. Never say "Our organization needs money to fix the gym ceiling,"--instead, "Our community's children need a warm, dry place to play."
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This is the second in an eight-part series on grant writing from Aril Consulting.