Be Clear About the Need

Be Clear About the Need

May 18, 2015

Any grant proposal — short or long —will always require a “statement of need.” This description of the problem or social condition you are targeting is most effective when written after conducting a “needs assessment” to gather information from key stakeholders, including those most affected by the problem. 

You may also want to test your assumptions about the nature or root of the problem with a “situational analysis” in which you strategically combine various data points and perspectives — relevant statistics and anecdotal evidence —to illustrate the breadth and depth of the social condition you’re tackling. 

For example, a criminal justice program that aims to reduce severe sentencing for non-violent offenses might gather evidence about the issue by surveying those most affected by such sentencing. The findings of this needs assessment could then be examined in the context of demographic data, such as rates of incarceration by race, gender and age, and other statistics on sentencing patterns, to inform a powerful statement of need.

Remember: The goal of your statement is to educate your reader (the program officer) about the social condition your program addresses. This piece of your proposal is never about how much money your program requires, but rather the universal need to solve a systemic social problem. Once you have made a convincing case, your readers will be eager to learn about the solution you propose.

Luz M. Rodriguez