The building blocks of a strong statement of need are why, who and supportive data and/or statistics.

Why this program/project is necessary?  Describe the nature of the problem – the nagging research question, the difficulties people face, etc.

Much like researching – think broad first, and then narrow. Start with the generalized problem as it exists/occurs in your community.  Then explain the conditions which make this a problem.

If there are others addressing the problem, identify gaps in what they’re doing – and how your program/project will fill those gaps. Be cautious not to be critical.  As you investigate the need for specific programs within your community, it is imperative to avoid duplication of services. Where services may overlap, consider strategic collaborations.

  • Let the donor know that you fully understand the problem at all levels.
  • Use statistics to support your case.
  • Use extreme adjectives (inadequate, outdated, tiny, underserved, worthless, etc.).
  • Use graphics and be clear and concise
  • Use factual, objective, well-supported, current information to substantiate the need for your program  (authorities in the field as well as from your organization’s own experience)
  • Strike a balance between ‘need’ and ‘hopelessness’
  • Don’t editorialize
  • Avoid negativity

I like to answer the following five questions when beginning to develop a statement of need:

  1. What is the need or problem?
  2. Who has the need or problem?
  3. Why is this a need or problem?
  4. What will happen if the need or problem is not addressed?
  5. How do you know this information?