For the past few weeks our focus has been on grant funding. You can read previous posts in this series here. Today, we will continue this focus by looking at the Needs Statement.
Virtually every grant proposal has a section called the Needs Statement, Problem Statement or Issue Statement. This section provides your organization with an opportunity to discuss the needs in your community that your organization will be addressing. This section requires you to paint a picture that helps the funder understand what is going on in your community and what will happen if the need is not met.
What the Needs Statement is Not For
The grant proposal is not the place for you to discuss what your organization needs to continue functioning; frankly, the funder doesn’t care what you need. Instead, they do care about the needs that exist in your community and the needs you will be addressing. Yes, your organization may need funds for staff positions; however, your focus needs to be on the work being done by those staff…how do they serve, what will happen to those you serve if the staff are nonexistent?
We will discuss the Program Description next week, but know that you will want to tie the information contained in the needs statement to the program description. In other words, the program description should be a way to solve the needs you are discussing. But, the needs statement does not include a solution (program description) – only needs.
Gathering Information for Your Needs Statement
So, where do you get the information to include in your needs statement?
Research Relevant Data
Census data provides good background information about your community. You may also want to include data about school students; for this information you will want to review the School Report Card for your district. Unemployment statistics can be obtained by accessing Department of Labor data and health related information can be found by visiting the Healthy People 2020 website. Remember as you are gathering data, use data that is relevant to the problems that you are seeking to address and data that comes from reputable sources.
And, know that the information to include in your grant proposal is generally not information found in the Tourism Office or the Office of Economic Development.
Use Case Studies or Stories
Finally, as you develop your needs statement, consider including information about a specific individual or an anecdote about the work your organization does. It is possible to paint a picture with data that connects with the head (logic) but including a story connects with the emotions (heart). The most successful Needs Statements connect with both.[bctt tweet=”The most successful Needs Statements connect both logic and the heart. #grants #nonprofit #ministry” username=”Grantconsultant”]
When telling a story, paint a picture of someone who has accessed your services or is your typical client. What do they look like? What types of situation are they in? What needs have they identified and what needs exist beyond those the individual has identified?
Tying the data with the face of a real person provides the potential funder with a full picture of the needs your organization is seeking to address.