Welcome to the second part in the series: Five basic parts of writing a winning grant: "Needs & Target Demographic." In the first part, we went over the "About Your Organization" section to identify what funding sources are particularly looking for concerning your organization.
Specifically, we covered the following:
- Status of your organization
- Your vision
- Activities your organization has completed
- Other grants or funding your organization has received
- Board officers and members
- Staffing structure
- Financial oversight and management of funds
- Job roles for projects
In this podcast and blog, we will be talking about the ‘Needs and Target Demographic’ section. Funding agencies want to know what your organization’s needs are and what community or sector you will serve to meet those needs.
In this blog, we are going to discuss your target demographic, how to clearly state (and cite) your needs, and how to write a powerful problem statement. This section is going to take more time than you think – if you do it right. You cannot just pull statistics out of the sky.
Back to our previous example of Youth Soccer Rocks: Let’s think of an organization that is located in a city called Rocking Socks city and they are wanting to create a project with soccer camps for the disadvantaged youth in their community. You may think, ‘well, I know that the city of Rocking Socks has high poverty, so I will just write that.’ You are probably correct, but you need to reference a current source to prove your point. For instance, you can look at the U.S. Census to reference the number of households under the poverty line in Rocking Socks. You could also include information from newspapers, articles, surveys, community meetings (reference minutes of meetings), and so on.
Try and find statistics or references within the past five years. If you are serving a niche, or a small community that does not have robust data, it may be hard to find recent statistics. That is fine, but you may want to state why most of your data is outdated.
An even better way to get recent data is to simply develop it. If you really see a need, but have no stats to back it up, you could create a survey, conduct focus groups, facilitate a SWOT analysis, or record conversations with your target demographic. This is very powerful because you are not just talking about your target demographic in general, you are talking directly to your target demographic about their specific needs.
This is where you could also bring some of the potential beneficiaries into the creation of the project. For example, some of the information that you find from your discussions or data gathering might be different than you anticipated. You might have thought that the most pressing need for disadvantaged youth is no access to free soccer clinics on Saturday mornings. But when have the discussions with the disadvantaged youth they may report that if they have help with their homework they would have more time to participate in soccer after school. Furthermore, a majority of the youth may work on Saturday mornings or take care of siblings and they would only be able to attend free soccer clinics on Friday evenings. Thus, your findings will help guide your grant objectives and outcomes and may change the original design of your grant project.
Get to know what your target population wants and needs. Not only will this make your ‘Needs & Target Demographic’ section in your grant more powerful and increase your chance of funding, it could be the difference between long-term sustainability and implementation failure.
Let’s get to the actual problem statement. You will clarify one specific problem. All those great statistics and survey findings will support the problem statement.
First, let’s start with what to NOT do. Don’t use the words ‘lack of’ or ‘need for’. Be specific and clear. Youth Soccer Rocks may have the problem statement, “There are no free soccer programs available to youth in Rocking Socks City.”
Or they could be very precise and state something like, “Out of the 95 disadvantaged youth surveyed, 95% stated they have no support with their homework and therefore spend three hours per night working on homework and have no time to participate in sports.”
On the flip-side, the goal for the first problem statement could be, “To ensure all disadvantaged youth have access to free soccer clinics in Rocking Socks city.”
The goal for the second problem statement could be, “To ensure that disadvantage youth are not marginalized and have access to tutors.”
Do you see how this could shape two different projects? Be precise in your problem statement by leveraging the support of all your great needs information.
The target demographic is usually a much easier concept. It simply states who you will serve. For these above examples, your target demographic is disadvantaged youth in Rocking Socks city. You could be more precise and say 12 to 15-year-old disadvantaged youth in South Rocking Socks city. It really depends on where you find the most needs and who you want to serve. Sometimes it also depends on the funding agency. A certain agency may release grants that only serve certain ages or target specific geographic areas.
If you would like a Needs & Target Demographic Checklist, go ahead and sign up for my grant team list at www.hollyrustick.com/grantbonus or click below. I’ll add this to the FREE templates that you automatically receive when you sign up.
Let’s summarize the second part in the series: Five basic parts of writing a winning grant: “Needs & Target Demographic.”
When articulating the needs of your target demographic be sure to identify and state needs that adequately reference the needs in the community. Utilize information, statistics, and data from the previous five years. If recent citations or references are difficult to find then start coordinating efforts to support your needs. These efforts could include conducting surveys, facilitating focus groups, or gathering testimonials.
For your target demographic, make sure you are clearly serving one area. Yes, certain projects may serve an entire community, but be sure to clearly explain that community and that they have a common need. Be clear and precise with this section. Use quantitative and qualitative information to demonstrate the issues.
As always, shoot me an email if you have any grant specific questions and I will do my best to answer them via email or possibly through the podcast.