Winning grant funding can make a huge difference for nonprofit organizations. However, writing an effective needs statement is critical for your success. In this blog post, we will discuss what goes into a strong statement of need and how to create one that will make your grant proposal stand out from the rest!
What is a statement of need?
There's no shame in Googling "how to write grant statement of need" if that's how you found this post, and don't worry we're here to help!
A statement of need, or needs statement, is a document that articulates the problem that your nonprofit is trying to solve. It should be clear, concise, and persuasive. This document is important because it tells the grantor why their funds are needed and how they will be used to make a difference.
In other words, a needs statement should capture the actual problem you're trying to solve and focus on that problem statement, rather than the entire proposal. Sometimes grant writers go wrong when they try to say too much in a needs statement, rather than leaving more of the organization's solution for later on in the grant application. The needs statement is a chance to introduce the problem you're trying to address.
Why do you need one for your grant proposal?
Put yourself in the position of the grantor and it's easy to understand why they must have a needs statement as a required part of a grant proposal. They need to know why your work is important.
Consider the needs statement your opportunity to explain to the grantor why their funds are needed and how they will be used to make a difference.
You're solving a critical need and you should describe it in a way that points toward the funder's objectives as well. They should begin to see a straight line from the compelling needs statement you've written to how their funding opportunity can make a difference.
This section of a grant application allows you to focus on the problem you're trying to address and describe its impact on the community.
How to write a grant needs statement that is convincing and well-written
When someone finishes reading your needs statement, ideally they should not have any unanswered questions about the problem lingering in their mind. They should be eager to hear about how your program is going to address the problem.
There are a few key things to keep in mind to make your needs statement compelling:
Keep it clear and concise
You want to be able to articulate your problem and solution in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.
This is your chance to convince the grantmaker that your team is the best option for their funding.
Include reliable data and statistics
Use hard numbers to back up your claims and show the grantmaker the statement establishes the magnitude of the problem you are trying to solve.
Tell a story
Stories are a powerful way to connect with the reader and convey the human impact of the problem you are solving.
There are a few key things to avoid doing:
Avoid circular reasoning
For example, if a grant writer says, "The leading cause of homeless dogs is lack of shelter.", a grant reviewer will immediately see that the underlying problem is not addressed.
Don't rely only on qualitative data
Use more than just descriptions of the problem you're solving. Try to have unmistakable data, hard numbers that tell profound stories.
Try not to use too much generalized data
If possible and opt for local data to show that you really understand the true impact of the problem solving work you're doing.
The components of a strong needs statement
When writing a needs statement there are basic parts you should include.
An effective needs statement is built upon a clear and compelling description of the problem that you are trying to solve. When you begin writing, you should understand this statement drives the project and the rest of the grant proposal.
Data and statistics
You need to make a case, using data and statistics, for why this problem is important and why your group is the best one to solve it. Successful projects usually include strong research and data gathering to support the grant application. It's also a good idea to share a compelling story or example of the impact of your program.
Show how your proposed solution will make a difference. Explain how your work creates the desired outcomes for a community or group served by the project. This is another great opportunity to use data and statistics.
You need to demonstrate that you and your team have the ability to carry out your proposed project or solution. Support your assertion with evidence such as an example of a prior successful project, testimony from the community, and descriptions of the expertise of your team.
Examples of good and bad statements of need
Now let's take a look at some examples of needs statements.
"ABC nonprofit is addressing the problem of childhood obesity in our community. We are the only organization in our town that provides free cooking classes for families with children ages 0-18. Our classes are designed to teach families how to cook healthy meals on a budget.
To date, we have served over 500 families and our classes have been shown to reduce childhood obesity rates by 30%. We are requesting $50,000 to expand our program to reach more families in our community."
This statement uses current data (500 families served, reduced childhood obesity rates by 30%), is free of grammatical errors, notes contributing problems (limited access - the only organization in town), it acknowledges the target audience (families with children ages 0-18), and
"Our organization provides free cooking classes for families. We would like $50,000 to expand our program."
Grant applications with a needs statement like this one will struggle to win grants. Effective needs statements must address the successful outcomes of the project, cite evidence or data to back up these claims, describe comparative statistics or context, and relate the current situation to how the requested funding will improve services and outcomes.
Tips for writing a needs statement that stands out from the rest
Now that you know what goes into a strong statement of need, here are a few tips to make your needs statement stand out from the rest:
People remember stories
The best way to make your needs statement and grant proposal stand out is with a memorable story. People are moved by compelling stories, an episode that leaves reviewers with an image in their minds of the program or services they're being asked to support for grant funding.
No pity parties
If you provide a solution for underserved populations, try to avoid placing the focus on the lack or deficiency of the community or group being served, and focus your writing on the desired outcomes of the work and how those served are also agents of positive change. People are often placed in situations beyond their control, and despite difficult circumstances, they are just as capable as others.
Enthusiasm is infectious
Grant writers write a lot. It's easy for the writing to become monotonous and to lose its persuasive power if the person writing feels burned out. If you're feeling this way, give yourself the opportunity to take a step back and recall why you are passionate about this project. If you can write with a fresh perspective and enthusiasm for the project, it will come through in your writing.
By following these tips, you can be sure that your needs statement will be convincing and well-written. With a strong needs statement, you are one step closer to grant writing that will win the funding you need to support your important work.
The statement of need is important for the success of any grant proposal. It is the section that explains why your project needs funding and how it will address the problem and benefit the community or group you are proposing to help.
A well-written needs statement is persuasive, making your case for why your project should be funded. However, a poor statement of need can ruin an otherwise good proposal. In this article, we’ve provided tips for writing a strong needs statement as well as examples of good and bad statements.
Explain the problem clearly.
Research and use the right data and statistics.
Uplift any community you serve.
Describe clear program outcomes and impact.
Write with enthusiasm.
We hope these resources will help you create a statement that stands out from the rest and convinces reviewers to fund your project. Good luck!