Using Credible Research To Write Compelling Needs Statements

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    This posting is by Lynn deLearie.

    I initially want to refer all readers to an excellent post about Needs Statements written previously on this blog by Andrew Grant (see the link at the bottom of this post).

    In that piece, “Impress Funders With Your Grant Proposal (Writing a “WOW” Needs Statement),” Andrew said that, “the Need Statement must be well structured and supported by research to make the case.” He went on to say, “Depending on the subject, citations and data can be used as long as they don’t disrupt the narrative flow.”

    I agree wholeheartedly, and almost always cite relevant research in the Needs Statements that I write.

    I have done most of my recent grant writing for a private middle school that serves impoverished, African American students and families living in North St. Louis. The other accessible educational option for these students is the unaccredited St. Louis public school district, which had an average 2012 graduation rate of 64%. The need to provide a low-cost, quality education to the students that this middle school serves is obvious and compelling…

    So, why did I cite research in these Needs Statements? Because, as Andrew states, it helps to build the case for support, and “captures and holds the attention of the funder reading your proposal.”

    In addition, citing credible research adds to the credibility of your organization. It shows that you clearly understand the needs of your target population within the broader context of your community.

    Citing credible research can also demonstrate that your program staff has done its homework, and uses evidence-based methods when implementing the programs that meet the needs of your clients.

    Now that you know why to cite credible research in your Needs Statements, where do you find the research to cite?

    Start with your program staff. They are the experts on what your organization does and will have the most relevant and up-to-date research related to their programs. You can ask them for data and statistics to use to make a strong case for supporting what they do.

    Also look at what your competition is saying… on their websites, in their newsletters, in their annual reports. It’s a good bet that they have also applied to the same foundations you are writing to, and you need to be aware of the research they are citing, as well as the results their programs are delivering.

    A Google-Search will also turn up other sources of citable research; but not every source that such a search turns up will be credible – double check. The last thing you want to do in your Needs Statement is to cite an unverifiable source.

    Impress Funders With Your Grant Proposal
    Lynn deLearie Consulting, LLC, helps nonprofit organizations develop, enhance and expand grants programs and helps them secure funding from foundations and corporations. Contact Lynn deLearie.
    Look for Lynn’s ebook on Grants & Grantsmanship. It’s part of The Fundraising Series of ebooks
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