Impress Funders With Your Grant Proposal

Sections of this topic

    (Writing a “Wow” Needs Statement)

    So, how do you capture and hold the attention of the funder reading your proposal?

    The first section of each proposal, after an introduction or executive summary, is the Needs Statement. That is where the proposal writer presents and justifies the request for funding.

    The funder, of course, will be interested only if the applicant’s research had determined, and can demonstrate, that the project being presented is central to the funder’s agenda. Assuming that to be the case, the Needs Statement is the foundation upon which the entire proposal rests.

    The need can be conceptualized as the gap between a situation as it exists and some ideal state.

    For example, an animal rights group documents the abuse of animals and proposes a project of public education to reduce such abuse by a projected percentage. The need always must be presented from the point of view of the population to be assisted (animals, in this case).

    Inexperienced proposal writers often, mistakenly, substitute the needs of the applicant organization for the needs of those being served.

    Strong proposals offer compelling solutions to be carried out by competent, solvent applicants. Funders will not be moved by “needs” that talk about how much the applicant’s endowment has shrunk. [That gets us back to the “readiness” issue of an earlier blog. (See: Grant Readiness)] Only organizations that can present strong credentials will be in a position to address the needs they document.

    The Need Statement must be well structured and supported by research to make the case. The need should elicit a, “Wow! I never realized that!” response.

    Depending on the subject, citations and data can be used as long as they don’t disrupt the narrative flow. Go back to the newspaper article to see how a skilled reporter builds a case and draws in the reader. Then apply that structure to your proposal need and compare it to the ample number of examples available on the web.

    Watch for future (Grants) blogs in this series discussing the other elements of a grant proposal.
    Have a comment or a question about starting or expanding your grants program? Email me at