The Holy Grail of Grant Writing (excerpts from In the Trenches: Grantsmanship) – Statement of Need

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This is one in a series of excepts from HUB Philanthropic Consulting’s Expert Grant Guru, Heather Stombaugh, GPC, CFRE from her latest book.  In this excerpt, Heather reviews the ever-important Statement of Need.

Part II: Chapter 6: Telling your story by the numbers

The Statement of Need provides the evidentiary basis for your persuasive argument.  The purpose of the Statement of Need is to establish the rationale for your proposal and lay the foundation for the development of the other sections by answering the fundamental question, “Why is this project (or organization) needed?”

As you develop the Statement of Need, there are three points you must consider: answer the real question, collect and synthesize data,and balance emotion and evidence.

The outline for the Statement of Need is comprised of the answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the problem/need?
  2. How long has the need existed?
  3. Who is in need?
  4. Who will benefit primarily from your proposed solution?
  5. Why is there a need?

The Statement of Need must lead the reader from acknowledging there’s a problem, to feeling like they can do something about it, and finally to choose to invest in the changes your nonprofit wants to make in the world. But they will ever agree with your argument without a logical progression of facts.

Here are a few points to remember when writing your Statement of Need.

  • Write the most important information first
  • Statements should be clear and to the point
  • If there are multiple needs, focus only on those that your proposed project will address
  • Present data that will support your case, but do not overwhelm readers with numbers

The first place you should go for data is the nonprofit. This is called primary evidence, because it comes directly from the source. Once you have primary evidence, pair it with secondary evidence from reputable sources. What types of data should you collect?

  • Demographic data
  • Problem or issue-specific data
  • Data to support the proposed solution

We recommend that you use the CRAAP test to evaluate your sources before including them in your proposal. CRAAP is the acronym for:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

Most importantly, you must pair good data with the human element. Remember that people give to people, not proposals. Grant funding is never about your organization and it is always about the people or communities you serve. Describe how the proposed solution will benefit clients and improve their condition, not how your organization will benefit.

How will you tell your story?

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