What is the one thing that I see most often with grant proposals?
The need statement is a big assumption, full of fluff and vague language. And, in many cases, this needs statement lacks what it takes to entice a foundation that is dealing with one major problem after another to take action in favor of supporting your proposed solution.
Yes. “Say it ain’t’ so!” But it is.
In this day and age, the process of grant seeking just became overly competitive. And, to be competitive, you must be able to compel a foundation to believe that there is a need and that your organisation provides one of the best solutions.
The days of grant need statement complacency have gone. We have reached “Olympic” times, and you gotta have the goods to be in the game.
So, here are my top ten tips for creating a winning grant need statement.
1) You must be able to answer the most important question – Why would a grantmaker give money to my organisation? Let’s face it. Foundations only have so much funding to give away. And, most plan to give it to those organisations who are serving the greatest need.
2) You must know your community’s demographics and understand them in detail enough to demonstrate the need or problem that you have identified. You must show that you can compellingly solve this need or issue. But, the foundation wants to base its decisions on concrete facts and solutions.
3) Don’t make assumptions. We are going to make those in fundraising. Don’t make assumptions about your donors, and don’t make assumptions about foundations. Please don’t assume that they know all about your problem and the solutions available.
4) Be in a competitive funding shape. Competition for funding is fierce, and you can bet your bottom dollar that your competition has documented and explained the need. Even if you think the funder knows the issue, be sure to state what issues impact your stakeholders briefly.
5) Look for sources of supporting data. Support data may include the latest census data, municipal planning departments, local United Ways, school district data, relevant trends, research, and stories from the community, program participants, etc. It may also include focus groups, and participant survey results need assessments, newspaper reports, police, health department data, etc. Data must demonstrate the existence of a problem and gaps in services that your organisation is addressing.
6) Remember that program officers must represent your proposal to others. So make your needs statement clear and straightforward. And, government sources are responsible to taxpayers. So the needs statement is supercritical.
7) With a finite amount of money and many options, needs statements must be clear and follow a formula. A needs statement must include a description of your target population and their needs using key indicators such as income, age, education, etc. A needs statement must also include context from the national level down to the local with research and stats.
8) Outline all of the possible solutions and practices that have attempted to solve the problem, elements of your solution that have achieved success elsewhere, and explain why your organisation’s answer to the problem will be successful.
9) Don’t just throw in data randomly. Be sure that it flows from an overall structure and supports that structure. Case statements are structured arguments that make a support case. It is a narrative story that attempts to say your organisation can best address the need.
10) Use footnotes as necessary to build a Case for Support towards your solution. And use as many of them as you need to support your possible solution.
Times just got tougher. And, foundation funding a bit fiercer to obtain. No longer will watered down, assumption-filled needs statements do. They must be tight, focused, and compelling to win the grant. Foundations make grants to organisations that can demonstrate clear needs. Use these tips to get your needs statement in shape.
Development Consulting Solutions has a team of experts who can meet your needs through serving as your grant reviewer, grants researcher, proposal template developer, and ongoing grant writer. Check out our list of grant writing services here.
The Case for Support Checklist Needed For Your Next Appeal…
If you want your Not-for-Profit to build a powerful message, you need the building blocks to a successful Case for Support.
Do you want a checklist to help you design this messaging? Then email me for your copy of my new Case for Support checklist to ensure that all critical components and elements of a Case are answered in your next appeal letter, grant application, social posting, and more!
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