need statement

The Core of Your Proposal: The Problem Statement

In this blog, I will address need statements specifically for programmatic grants, which will have a heavy focus on the beneficiaries. The need statement, also known as the problem statement, is a key element of any proposal. It makes a clear, concise, and well-supported statement of the idea you are proposing. It needs to be well-researched and evidence-based.

The best way to collect information about the problem is for you to conduct and document both a formal and informal needs assessment for your program in the target or service area. The information you provide should be both factual and directly related to the problem addressed. Areas for you to document are:

  • Purpose for developing the proposal – what need you identified or what problem will be solved. You also have to address why you identified this particular need and why you and your organization are credible and able to make a substantial difference in terms of the solution.
  • Beneficiaries – who they are, how they will benefit, how they were chosen, how many were chosen and how you came up with this approach must be documented and specifically addressed.
  • Social and economic costs – who and what will be affected and by how much. Here you will need to address the percentage of change you expect and why. Obviously, cost is always a consideration, and if you can demonstrate that your intervention will save institutional and individual costs, this will be to your benefit.
  • The nature of the problem – provide as much hard evidence as possible. This will be accomplished via the literature review, your past experience, surveys, and past and present data that demonstrate your past and anticipated future success with the targeted beneficiaries.
  • Objectives – the specific way you will solve the problem, including the resources needed, how they will be used, and to what end. The goal and objectives will be the “heart of your proposal” that together will constitute your plan of operation.
  • Sustainability plan – explain what will happen to your project when funding has been exhausted. If there is a way to institutionalize the approach  (e.g. train the trainers), this will demonstrate that the donor’s funding will make an ongoing difference, not just a one-time intervention.

There are several types of data you might want to collect, depending on the project: historical, geographic, statistical, as well as studies completed in your field. Unless otherwise specified, a mix of qualitative and quantitative data usually works best.

The need statement will ultimately be about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature that requires understanding and deliberate intervention. Making the need and your credibility to solve the problem clear to the donor, will make the difference between being funded and rejected.

Mathilda Harris

Over the past 18 years, she has written grants, conducted capital campaigns, developed strategic plans for grant procurement, and assisted individuals and institutions to write winning proposals for various donors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.