1st November 2021
5 Tips for Writing a Needs Statement for a Grant Proposal
When you apply for a grant to fund a community project, you have to include a needs statement. The needs statement is arguably the most important part of the grant writing process because it defines the problem that you are seeking to address.
Donors will award funding when they are convinced that a project will address a real and urgent gap in current provision. So how can you make your needs statement as compelling as possible? Follow our tips below to maximize your chances of getting that grant.
- Focus on one core concern.
- Show how your project ties in with the funder’s objectives.
- Support your claims with quantitative and qualitative data.
- Demonstrate the urgency of the need.
- Proofread your needs statement before sending it.
Read on to explore these tips in more detail:
1. Focus on the Main Problem
You should clearly identify the main issue that you hope to address. Community projects usually bring multiple benefits, but it is important that your needs statement highlights the core concern.
For example, if you were applying for funding to offer English lessons to refugees, your needs statement should focus on the barriers to integration that are caused by the inability to speak English. There will certainly be other issues that the provision of English lessons will affect, e.g., loneliness and lack of knowledge about benefits and services, but these only need to be briefly mentioned.
Be sure to avoid the common mistake of defining the problem as the absence of your project (a form of circular reasoning). In the above example, this would mean stating that the issue you will address is the shortage of English classes for refugees. This does not make a very convincing case because you have not explained why limited access to English lessons is a problem.
2. Link Your Project with the Funder’s Objectives
Your needs statement should clearly show how your project aligns with the aims of the funder. When a representative of the institution you are applying to reads your needs statement, they should be convinced that by financing your cause, they will be furthering their own interests.
So, if you were approaching an institution that prioritizes improving employment rates, you would focus on how providing English lessons to refugees will help them find employment.
If you struggle to make a connection between your community project and the objectives of the potential donor, then you should probably seek funding from a different source.
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3. Use Both Hard Statistics and Human Stories
You need to provide as much evidence as possible to support your application for funding. For example, you could cite other projects that are similar to yours that have made a difference in their communities.
It can also be helpful to use comparative data. For instance, research may demonstrate that refugees with more access to English lessons have a greater chance of gaining employment. Make sure that any figures you quote are as up to date as possible, come from reputable sources, and relate to communities similar to yours.
It is important to build a logical argument by quoting relevant statistics, trends, and expert opinions. But you should also engage your readers’ emotions with real-life testimonies. Vivid descriptions of the difficulties faced by individuals can reach people in a way that statistics alone can’t.
When you include personal stories, remember to respect the dignity of the people involved. We suggest not giving the real names of contributors unless they have given you permission to do so. In addition, be sensitive to the community when you describe its challenges. While you want to convey the reality of the difficulties a community faces, you should avoid defining a group of people by those problems.
4. Emphasize the Urgency of the Need
Your application will have the best chance of success if you can persuade the donor that the need must be addressed as a matter of urgency. So as you write, be sure to answer the question “What will happen if this project doesn’t go ahead straight away?”
Institutions may have to demonstrate to their trustees, shareholders, etc., that funds have been distributed in the most effective way. If you don’t convince them that prompt action is critical, they are likely to direct their funds elsewhere.
5. Make Sure Your Needs Statement is Error Free
No matter how keen you are to get your project off the ground, it is always worth proofreading your writing before you send off your grant proposal.
Typos and grammatical errors will make your organization look unprofessional. Moreover, as well as spotting mistakes, a good proofreader will highlight any unclear sentences and help you to communicate as effectively as possible.
Our team of expert proofreaders is available around the clock, and we can return your document within 24 hours. If you haven’t tried us out yet, you can even submit 500 words for free.
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