How to Describe the Need in Your Nonprofit’s Grant Application
A grant writer begins to shape the argument behind the nonprofit’s proposal plan in the problem statement or a statement of need. Generally a writer prepares a problem statement when proposing a new relationship with the constituents who would be served by the project. A statement of need talks about the challenging situations of people (or animals or historic buildings) that the nonprofit already serves.
If someone notices a decline in the population of a bird species along a lakeshore and writes about that concern, such a discussion would be a problem statement. If a bird conservation organization that has been working to preserve that bird population for several years observes a change in the birds’ food source that’s affecting their health, that written piece would be a statement of need.
Whichever of these statements a writer prepares, this proposal section brings forward the reasons behind the program for which the organization is seeking money. It does so by focusing on needs of constituents the project would serve. It should incorporate some data or statements from experts to back up the needs or problems it describes. And it should capture its reader’s attention — making him want to read on.
You shouldn’t describe your problem as a lack of money but as a situation in the lives of the constituents, whether they’re spruce trees, retired adults, or former race horses.
A common mistake made in a problem statement (or statement of need) is identifying the problem’s solution. Wait! Hold off! The rest of the proposal is boring for your readers if you propose the solution here. At the most, you may want to plant the beginnings of an idea, or suggest a direction that may be fruitful.