A well-developed grant proposal must include an understanding of your organization's own needs and strengths, as well as your community and its needs and strengths.

Why is it important to assess the needs of your agency and community first? In this article, you will find 5 reasons why and 5 key elements of a good needs assessment.


Here are 5 reasons to assess the community's needs first:

REASON 1 - You will avoid duplication of other projects doing similar activities.

REASON 2 - You can determine the "most pressing" of all the problems/needs first. By prioritizing the most pressing needs first, you have a greater chance of success, and success more quickly. Instead of spreading yourself out too thin, you focus on what's at the top of your list first. With a success or two under your belt, you can attract more funding to address other "less pressing" problems later.

REASON 3 - You are in a better position to leverage and maximize the resources you have within your agency and community.

REASON 4 - You are able to determine the "impact" of getting a grant. Most people don't realize the "side effects" of getting a grant or contract. These are often unexpected. For example, you may experience a change in the structure of your organization, personnel may have to be terminated later (unless sustained funding is secured), priorities may have to be changed, and there is likely an impact on facilities and equipment.

REASON 5 - You can better able to justify the need for your project and grant.

A "needs assessment" is a survey instrument used prior to seeking funding. It's a tool you can use to determine the needs and interests for your agency, your agency's clients, as well as the community overall.


A good needs assessment should have these 5 components:

1) A clear, concise statement of the problem in your community that your grant will try to solve.

2) An accurate description of the population to be served by your grant.

3) A list of factors or specific reasons why your idea should be prioritized over other requests for funding.

4) A summary of literature, research or studies that have addressed this same problem, as well as a summary of other programs which have tried to address this same problem in a different context elsewhere.

5) Mention of any additional data that you propose to collect during your project.


Let's look at an example...

A colleague worked for the city government in a neighboring state. They conducted a confidential survey of the citizens and asked for their priorities in making the city a better place to live.

The response was nearly unanimous from the citizens. Not only did the community want a community center, but over 70% request senior services, as well as a youth center with structured activities for the city's youth.

With the results of the needs assessment, the city created a Community Action Plan Task Force that met monthly and was comprised of local business leaders, local seniors and youth, the City Council, and other concerned citizens.

The Task Force recommended creating a facility that would house the Community Center. Collectively, the community members recommended moving a donated historic train depot from its present location at a new site where construction of the new City Hall and an all-in-one Community Center could take place.

With a strong needs assessment and community action plan, the city was approached by a Foundation who agreed to fund the project. So, if you are serious about addressing the needs in your community, conduct a needs assessment. It's the first step to getting funding.

And now I would like to invite you to claim your free subscription to a high-quality, content-rich Grant Writing Newsletter, written specifically for today's fast-paced grant writing professional when you visit http://GrantWritingNewsletter.com.

Author's Bio: 

With a 93% grant success rate and $1.2 Billion in grant funding for over 3,000 students, the Grant Professor Phil Johncock is the “world’s greatest grant writer” according to Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul. Check out the Grant Professor’s 3-day Grants Conference and How to Create a Grant Readiness 3-Ring Binder for U.S. Nonprofits, as well as Grant Professional Certification (GPC) Exam Prep course for experienced grant writers.