Your Needs Statement or Problem Statement addresses the issue that your nonprofit organization is attempting to solve. This important segment of your grant proposal must address the reason why this is a problem and why it is important to solve this problem. It is one of the most critical segments of your grant proposal. This statement addresses:
- Why the project is important.
- The support available to you in the community to do this project.
- Impact this project will provide in solving or addressing the problem.
- The timing of your project in response to the problem.
This segment of the proposal is where evidence is required to demonstrate proof of the problem and need. In order to do this, we need to deeply understand the issue in order to convey this to funders. Data collection of statistics that support your points are incredibly useful and helpful in garnering the funding support you seek.
Understand the Problem
Data collection is time consuming and it can even become expensive depending upon the source of the data. It may feel overwhelming collecting this information when you already have so much on your plate, but it is crucial that you have this information not only for grant support, but for all of your fundraising support. It also helps you to more deeply understand the needs you serve in your community. It is one thing to visually experience and serve those needs, it’s entirely another to see the statistics involved. This can also help you implement strategic planning to scale your efforts more effectively. An adequate strategic plan to tackle a problem is essential to winning grant funding. It is also important to make sure your data comes from a credible source. Do your due diligence.
Once you have collected the data, you will need to differentiate between qualitative and quantitative data.
- Quantitative Data – numerical data and analysis
- Qualitative Data – Stories and experiences
Both of these are important as one provides real numbers and budgetary realities, and the other provides the emotional connection that makes the issue meaningful and real. Your funders will come from different viewpoints. Some are more moved by numbers, while others prefer the emotional connection to the problem.
Facts vs. Wants
Wanting something simply because you want it doesn’t make it necessary. Provide valid facts as to why what you want is critical to solving this problem. Wanting more money is common, but without deeply justified reasoning for the specific request amount, it appears that you don’t really have a grasp on what it is you aim to solve. Wanting nice things isn’t the same thing as needing critical things. Know the difference. Is your program nice or critical?
We encourage you to use the following data sources if you feel they can provide you with the information you are seeking when completing your client information form for us.
- Census data from the Bureau of Census
- City, county, and state government agencies or departments provide data on health, housing, or demographics, including: health departments, human service departments;
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- School districts and school report cards
- KIDS COUNT Data Book from The Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Urban Institute
- Newspapers articles that highlight recent research
- Police records or safety maps
- Chamber of Commerce
- Hospital admission and exit records
- County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
- Centers for Disease Control
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
- Academic journals available at local libraries or universities
- Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action connects individuals in the sector who are interested in research;
- and the International Society for Third-Sector Research promotes research and education for the nonprofit sector.