How to Uncover Hard-to-Find Statistics for Your Grant Application
Knowing how to find current and relevant demographics (also known as statistics) is crucial to writing an effective grant application. Unfortunately, these statistics aren’t always easy to find when you need them.
But if you know where to look, you can dig up hard-to-find information — everything from risk indicators for your target population and service area to internal data that’s chock-full of outcomes from your organization’s previous grant-funded programs and activities.
Local labor database
If you’re writing about employment trends, unemployment rates, or occupational demand in your narrative, find your state’s Department of Labor Web site and look for reports, publications, and research statistics related to your service areas. If you can’t readily locate this information, call your local employment services office and ask whether it has a recent labor market report that you can copy.
Try calling your local One-Stop Career Center (state-funded offices to help high-risk individuals obtain training and get jobs), which you can find by visiting CareerOneStop. This service provider collects historical data on employment trends for a county or a series of adjacent counties.
Public health indicators
If you need statistics regarding incidences of death, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancies, cancer, diabetes, or other diseases, locate the Web sites for your state and county public health departments.
Print out five years of data so that you can build comparison tables in your grant application narrative. And always cite the source of your data.
If you’re writing a grant application to benefit your school, you need to gather education data on your district and state-level comparison data. Start by locating your state Department of Education’s Web site. Look for links to research, reports, or school report cards (the demographic reports on districts and individual schools).
Up-to-date census data
If you’re writing about your target population’s increasing or decreasing growth trends, the best source is the United States Census Bureau. You can use QuickFacts, which is one of the Bureau’s data tools, to find state, county, and city-level trends for population, housing, income, poverty, and employment.
A recent community-needs assessment is a survey that’s taken from a representative percentage of a community’s general population. It shows a community’s risk factors as they relate to education, health, substance abuse, income, housing status, and more. You can try to find the assessment for your area by calling your local United Way (to find it, visit this United Way Web page).
Large nonprofit organizations (such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, YMCAs, YWCAs, your county’s board of commissioners, or your city council) are additional sources for accessing community needs assessments.
Regional environmental scan report
When you need to present a large picture of the problems in your community or county, look for a recent environmental scan report, which is a thorough and frequently updated document that captures the demographic characteristics of a county or a local community. Environmental scans are done by government boards and agencies, as well as universities. If you can’t find an environmental scan report with an online search, call your nearest university or even the United Way to locate a recent one.
When you’re writing intervention and prevention applications for high risk youth and adult populations, it’s important to incorporate the crime statistics in your community. Check out your state’s Department of Justice or Department of Criminal Justice Web site by looking for the governor’s Web page for your state. Or you can browse your State Police or state Department of Public Service’s Web site for critically needed and up-to-date statewide crime statistics. For more local info, turn to your local law enforcement agency’s Web site or give the agency a call directly.
Your organization's service statistics and trends
When you want to write about historical services numbers for your organization, you need accurate and reliable data. In some instances, your board of directors requests frequent reports from your executive director on the organization’s service statistics and demographic trends (such as average age, income, and education level). Ask around your office to see who has this report or has access to the electronic files containing this type of information.
Archived data for comparison studies
If you’re trying to show that a problem has worsened, you can use target population comparison studies. These types of studies come in handy because they contrast one year to another year for the same target population. Your first stop when searching for this archived data should be your local or regional college or university library. Often, graduate students conduct extensive research on population groups and trends and publish their theses or dissertations (which are then available in the library). Another possible source for this info is your local community foundation.
Previous evaluation reports
Previous evaluation reports created by your organization for past grant applications can be treasure troves of old statistics and program outcomes and outputs, so start scrounging around for them. The best places to begin are with your organization’s administrators and your board of directors. If you hit a road block looking for old evaluation reports, you can try looking at computer hard drives throughout the organization for any old evaluation reports or grant application files.