If you want to win grant funding with your proposal, you’re going to need a compelling needs statement. Think of it this way: You’re the only one who really knows how big and how important your need is, so it’s your job to convey that need in a compelling manner.
Professional grant writer Betsy Baker shows you the four major ways to successfully convey your need to obtain the necessary grant funding. Read more in her guest article below.
State Your Need: How to Write a Compelling Needs Statement That Wins Grants
When you financially support charity, what is it that makes you want to give? You may be moved by the puppies that have been mistreated. Or it makes you shudder to think of cancer patients without access to lifesaving treatment. Or it could be that you want that prison inmate’s child to have presents at Christmas.
We are motivated to give because we want to help solve the problem presented, right? A well-demonstrated need is what compels people to give. Period. How is it, though, that you can effectively present your need in a grant application without photos of puppies and children?
Every successful grant proposal, and every other type of request, hinges on a compelling need. You know how huge your need is – but the person reviewing your grant proposal has to know it – and feel it – too. Here are some tips to help convey the urgency of your need on paper:
First, recognize that all needs should be external to the organization. In other words, they need to be of benefit to the public you serve. Yes, an iPad may be something that you want, but unless you can find a way to justify your target audience benefiting, leave that on your own personal wish list. Grant makers aren’t Santa Claus.
Let’s imagine though that your organization desires a new building on your school’s campus. Instead of making it about the organization needing a new building, focus on the students needing a new building. What could a new building mean to the students? A new building means you can add more classes. More classes mean that more students learn the skills they need to get jobs. Is an uneducated work force your problem? Then you just presented a need and offered a compelling solution.
Second, lead with need. Before you begin describing the project that you want funded, present your compelling need first. Think about crafting your proposal as you would an elevator speech. When you lead with need, it gets the grant reviewer’s attention. Remember, a need is simply a condition or situation in which something is required. Present your need first and your requirement in meeting that need next.
Third, present need with concrete evidence. Even though the problem is evident to your organization, a grant funder needs more than you telling them that there’s a problem – they have to be shown. National data is helpful but the closer you drill down to your certain area the better. Describe your need so that it paints a picture inside of the reviewer’s head. Try county census data, county health profiles (usually found on your state’s public health department’s website,) quotes from recognized area subject experts and other published reports.
Expect that the grant reviewer won’t know the people you serve as intimately as you do. Make it as easy on them as possible to get to know your audience better. Remember that grant funders are looking for a social return on their investment and they invest in people that they feel they know.
Fourth, avoid mistakes. Okay, here are the most common I see: a complicated need, confusing the solution with the problem, using adjectives instead of compelling details, too much focus on an organization’s needs, too little documentation that a problem exists, needs that don’t align with the organization. I could go on but I’ll spare you.
If you take a moment to think about it, do you see how each of these mistakes would be seen in a grant reviewer’s eyes? We have to prepare our proposals precisely and be dedicated to introducing the grant funder fully to our audience and the need that exists with them. When they “get” the need, and are moved by it, money follows.
About The Author
Betsy Baker is founder of BetsyJBaker.com, dedicated to teaching freelancers, consultants, coaches and other solo service professionals how to create and leverage an online presence, quit trading dollars for hours and serve more clients, realize more income and enjoy more free time.
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