Be a Grants Master, Make that Needs Statement Stand Out

The Grant Advisors are intensely aware that grant writing is one of the most rewarding projects anyone can have. Grant Advisor Ray Sweeney is a veteran of the grant writing wars, successfully winning an array of funding for his clients. But, grant writing can also be the most overwhelming, confusing, and time-consuming task you’ll ever be faced with. It can be daunting.

However, mastering the art of grant writing is critical for nonprofits—especially when securing grant funding may mean the life or death of your organization. And, getting grant funding is even more difficult these days because funders receive thousands of applications for a single award. And all of them are for worthy causes. So how can you make your organization stand out?

One way to shine is a good needs statement. After the one-page executive summary of your grant proposal comes a statement of need, usually two or three pages. If the reader makes it to these pages, then a nonprofit has successfully caught the reader’s interest.

The statement of need is where the reader learns about your issue. Here, you’ll document your need for funds with well-chosen statistics and present a logical argument.

  • Choose your facts carefully and get them right.Make sure your data are accurate. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being told by a funder your data are out of date. Data unrelated to your project weaken the proposal.
  • Give your reader hope.If you paint too bleak a picture, the reader will wonder whether a grant will help. Don’t be overly emotional. Here’s one way to phrase such a message: “Car crashes kill children. But statistics show children in car seats are more likely to survive an accident. Therefore, a program providing low-income parents with car seats will reduce the risk of children’s deaths from car accidents.”
  • Is your project a potential model?If you present your project as a model, funders may expect you to follow through on a replication plan. If you choose to represent yourself as a model, explain how the need you’re addressing also exists in other communities.
  • Is your problem acute? Be clear about why you’re asking for funds.
  • Don’t knock the competition.Even if you feel your solution is best, don’t criticize others’ approaches. Funders don’t like to see you bringing others down. In fact, they like collaboration, and may wonder why you’re not already working with other groups on this issue. Explain that you’re on good terms with other nonprofits in your field.
  • Avoid circular reasoning:Don’t make a circular argument like this one: “The problem is our community lacks a swimming pool. Therefore building a pool will solve that problem.” Rather, emphasize the benefits a pool will bring.

Grant Advisors Frank Klimko and Ray Sweeney love to hear from members of the GA community. Contact them through their website or phone: (410) 934-7652. Or you can subscribe to the mailing list and never miss a funding tip or related posting. It’s free.

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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