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User need statements: the ‘define’ stage in design thinking.

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March 24, 2019 2019-03-24

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In design thinking (as well as in any product-development process), it is important to define the problem you want to solve before spending time and resources on generating possible solutions. ( A great solution to the wrong problem will fail .) This approach maximizes resource use and decreases the likelihood for friction and disagreement in the prototyping, testing, and implementation stages.  

User need statements , also often called problem statements or point-of-view statements , are the primary tool in the second stage of design thinking — the define stage; they align different points of view before moving forward into ideating . It doesn’t matter which term you choose to use (user need, problem, or point of view)— it only matters that you remain consistent throughout your organization. 

User need statement:  An actionable problem statement used to summarize who a particular user is, the user’s need, and why the need is important to that user. It defines what you want to solve before you move on to generating potential solutions, in order to 1) condense your perspective on the problem, and 2) provide a metric for success to be used throughout the design thinking process.

Most importantly, the purpose of user need statements is to capture what we want to achieve with our design, not how. They help advance our presumptive solutions from specific features (such as a button or other UI implementation) towards deep insights about the problem that the user needs to solve. Simplistically, user need statements encourage us to see users’ needs as verbs (that is, goals and end states) instead of nouns that describe solutions . For example, users don’t ever need a dropdown (noun); they need to see the choices that they can make and select one of them (verb). They don’t need a dashboard (noun) — they need to digest varied information in one place (verb).  The nouns are possible solutions to users’ needs, but they are not the only solutions. If we focus on these nouns, we run the risk of ending up with suboptimal designs. The entire purpose of ideation is to explore ideas, so don’t lock yourself down prematurely by selecting the solution too early. 

In This Article:

Format: 3-part, user need statements in practice, user need statements vs. development tasks, stories, and epics.

Traditional need statements have 3 components: 1) a user, 2) a need, and 3) a goal. These are then combined following the pattern [A user] needs [need] in order to accomplish [goal].

For example, [Alieda, a multitasking, tech-savvy mother of 2] needs [to quickly and confidently compare options without leaving her comfort zone] in order to [spend more time doing the things that really matter].

The user should correspond to a specific persona or real end-user segment you’ve done research on. It is helpful to include a short tagline that helps remind everyone who the user is, especially if the need statement will be used by a large team or by stakeholders who are removed from research: 

  • Alieda, a multitasking, tech-savvy mother of 2
  • Carol Ann, a researcher with an appetite for adventure
  • Sam, a connected YouTuber in the city

The need should be real, should belong to users, should not be made up by the team, and should not be phrased as a solution. Stay away from features, interface components, and specific technology. For example, possible goals may be:

  • To quickly and confidently compare options without leaving her comfort zone
  • To meet and socialize with others, while maintaining family balance  
  • To get validation from others when making an important decision

Keep in mind: users do not always know what they need, even though they may say so. A famous quote, attributed to Henry Ford, says, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It is your job to understand the real need of your user. 

The insight , or goal, is the result of meeting that need. It should be rooted in empathy. Look beyond the obvious — what will this solution allow the user to accomplish?  For example, think about the user’s hopes, fears, and motivations: 

  • Spend more time doing the things that really matter 
  • Feel confident having new friends over for dinner
  • Pursue a lifelong dream that has always taken the back seat  

The cognitive and collaborative process of making a user need statement and the finished statement itself have important benefits for your team and your organization:

  • Capture the user and the need

A need statement distills your knowledge of the users and their need into a single sentence. It is especially helpful in condensing research insights (survey answers, user-interview transcripts, empathy maps) before looking for solutions — thus increasing clarity and allocation of time. 

  • Align the team along a concise goal

A user need statement is a concise, articulate way of communicating your user and their need across multiple team members and stakeholders. Once created, it should act as a guiding force — alignment throughout a project of what you and your team seek to solve. 

  • Identify a benchmark and measurement for success 

User need statements, if properly crafted, have the added benefit of providing a metric for success prior to the onset of ideation, prototyping, and testing. Use the insight, or goal, and ask yourself: how will we know if we accomplish this? Then, as you create your needs statements, establish corresponding metrics for success. This approach will decrease friction down the road and set a clear bar for your team or organization. 

1. Set the scope 

User need statements can be applied to varying scopes. It is likely you will have multiple need statements within one project: an overarching, umbrella statement and subordinate need statements that articulate smaller goals for that user type. You should scope your need statements based on your current project needs. 

Start by creating an ‘umbrella’ or ‘parent’ (broadly scoped) need statement when your goal is to: 

  • Establish alignment for a long-term vision or roadmap
  • Define the problem statement at the onset of a product’s conception

A ‘parent’ need statement will likely have a broad goal that will overarch each component of the project. For example, the need statement from above could be regarded as a parent goal:

[Alieda, a multitasking, tech-savvy mother of 2] needs [to quickly and confidently compare options without leaving her comfort zone] in order to [spend more time doing the things that really matter].

Conversely, it is beneficial to start with a ‘child’ (small-scope) need statement if your goal is to: 

  • Increase your comfort and fluency with need statements 
  • Create personal benchmarks for success as an individual practitioner or UX team of one  
  • Align the team on a user need within a larger product or service 
  • Set a goal for a week-long sprint

A ‘child’ need statement will have a specific need and a goal that can be satisfied in 1-2 releases: 

[Alieda, a multitasking, tech-savvy mother of 2] needs [to schedule an installation appointment] in order to [coordinate her family’s schedule ahead of time and prevent additional stress].

2. Conduct (or gather existing) qualitative research 

Gather the research you will be using to fuel your understanding of the users and their needs. Qualitative inputs such as user interviews , field studies , diary studies , or qualitative surveys can drive deep insights about your users. Also look at  maps that your team has already made, such as empathy maps , journey maps , or service blueprints .  

3. Generate, then mix and match

Using your research, generate candidates for the 3 variables in your needs statement: a user with tagline, a need, and an insight. Don’t worry about creating the perfect statement from the onset; instead, think about each variable in isolation, then start to mix and match. Combine different pairings until you have a statement that represents the user’s real need. 

First time practitioners are often apprehensive to include anything that is not a verbatim finding from research in their need statements. However, it is important to remember that our users will not always directly say or even know precisely what they specifically need or why. Instead, it is our job as user-experience professionals to use the research, combined with our expertise, to derive insights.  As Rebecca Sinclair, of Airbnb, reminds us “you are the designer. Your job is to be a deep, empathetic listener and to imagine ways to solve their problem. Take responsibility to create something better than the customer could have imagined. They are the inspiration, but you are the creator.” Practice this by continuing to ask yourself why :

  • What does the user care about?
  • Why is this important to the user?
  • What emotion is driving the user’s behavior?
  • What does the user stand to gain? 

4. Critique your statement

Once you have a working statement, begin critiquing and iterating on it. Mix and match, altering the language and combining different inputs. Challenge yourself with questions:

  • Are you thinking about your users’ needs as a verb, rather than a noun? 
  • Does this need statement launch you into ideation? 
  • Does the statement capture the nuances of what solving this need would mean in your user’s life? 

5. Add methods of measurement

Upon landing on a final need statement, identify how you can measure its success. If you were to satisfy that need for your user, how would you know? Common methods of measurement include:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Number of returns
  • Renewed policies or continued use
  • Recurring purchases or subscriptions
  • Likelihood to recommend the product

A user need statement must be used throughout the product-development cycle in order for teams to reap the full benefits. Below are examples of when and why it is helpful to create and refer to a user need statement: 

Example 1: Research 

When: Analyzing and sharing a key finding from a user interview  

How: After completing individual research analysis, create a user need statement on your own. Compare this user need statement to that generated by peer researchers. Combine and remix the various needs statements until you have a user need statement that is the best objective representation of the interview insights. 

Why: To help you condense the essential from research into a single actionable statement that is easy to digest, share, and distribute  

Tip: Directly compare need statements for different users to articulate the differences between user segments. 

Example 2: Project Kick-off 

When: Identifying goals at the beginning of a new-release cycle or sprint 

How: Create the user need statement in a collaborative, hour-long workshop. Ask participants to generate needs, then insights for a particular user. Prompt them to mix, match, and rewrite until they agree on one statement.

Why: To force alignment and prioritization across a multi-disciplinary team in a clear, articulated statement that team members can unite behind; also to mitigate objections or concerns later on in the release cycle 

Tip: Have each team member sign or initial the statement to indicate they bought in and aligned behind the release goal.   

Example 3: Retrospective  

When: Reviewing the success of an added feature or capability after it has been implemented 

How: Begin a retrospective by returning to the user need statement created at the onset of the project. Ask participants to rank their perception of success against the statement.

Why: To compare the effectiveness of what was implemented, against the original purpose  (A user need statement should be accompanied by a clear definition of  what success means  —for example, higher click rate, more return purchases, etc.) 

Tip: Compare self-evaluations of success to analytics and user data of the new feature or capability. Identify relationships and themes, and use the insights for the next release.

At a glance, user need statements seem to be like other structures commonly used product development. Development tasks, user stories , and epics often take the same format: “[a user] needs [a way to do something].” 

To better highlight the difference, let’s compare a need statement with a development statement:  

Need statement:  

[Alieda, a multitasking, tech-savvy mother of 2] needs [to quickly and confidently compare options without leaving her comfort zone] in order to [spend more time doing the things that really matter] .

Development statement: 

A user needs a comparison table in order to see different prices. 

The need statement gives us a specific user, something that the user needs to do, and a clear, empathetic insight into why Alieda has that need. The development statement presents a generic user and a solution ( comparison table ), with an insight that explains what the solution will support, and is not based on research.

Both have their time and place. If you are early in the design thinking process, you should be pushing yourself to generate quality need statements that can act as a pillar throughout the ideation and prototyping. Use development statements as a mechanism for implementation, once you know what you want to address.  

If you currently work with epics, stories, or tasks similar to user need statements, return to them and challenge yourself: can you make the user more specific? If you were to turn the noun into a verb, how would that need change? What is the deeper insight? 

As their name suggests, user need statements articulate the end user’s problem we are going to solve, and why it is worth solving. They are a tool to help us stop thinking about users’ needs as nouns and start thinking about them as verbs. When done collaboratively and correctly, they can serve as a single source of truth for what you want to achieve as a team or organization. 

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The 4 Fundamental Features Of A Strong Needs Statement

In order to be successful in grant writing, you need the funder to clearly understand the problem you are attempting to solve, and you need to be able to back it up. It’s this fact that makes a needs statement so important to the entire grant writing process. A needs statement drives the entire proposal. It defines the problem, describes the implications of the problem, and identifies the gaps in your community. When you begin the process of writing your next grant, the needs statement should be the place you start, and may be the section you spend the most time digging into.

Of course, all parts of a proposal are integral to telling your story to a funder, but the needs statement is really what makes the rest of the grant application relevant.

A poorly written needs statement puts the entire proposal in jeopardy, as it often leaves reviewers and funders with too many unanswered questions. Not knowing how to write a compelling, concise, and effective needs statement could lead to a lot of unfunded projects, so we want you to have the information you need to confidently and successfully complete a needs statement.

What Is A Needs Statement?

Before we go any further in unpacking some of the essential elements of a needs statement, it will be important to know exactly what is meant by this term, one that might also be referred to as a “problem statement.”

A needs statement establishes the rationale for a project by clearly identifying the gap or problem within a specific community.

A needs statement should determine the focus an organization will take by addressing the particular needs of a specific target audience through a very distinct project. The needs statement should also explain to a funder what the community requires or what it is lacking, and defines the underlying issues the applicant is addressing. Ultimately, the needs statement should answer the questions, “What is the problem or need?” and “How do you know it’s a problem?”

Why Is A Needs Statement Important?

A needs statement answers the “So what?” question. It should provide the funder with a reason to care and lets them know the issue being highlighted is significant and requires a solution.

While the needs statement identifies the problem in a community, it should also provide the funder with an understanding of the surrounding conditions in that community that are aggravating and heightening the problem.

4 Fundamental Features Of A Strong Needs Statement

Crafting a strong needs statement can bring increased levels of success for grant writers. Here are four key components to writing a needs statement that will make your reviewers take notice.

1. Focus On One Main Issue

It almost goes without saying that your community likely has a variety of concerns and issues it needs to confront. It may also be a fact that your program is tied to more than one specific problem. However, it is important that your needs statement focuses on a central concern, and not the issues on the periphery.

For example, if  you are seeking funds to provide hands-on construction skills training for unemployed youth, your focus of your needs statement should be on the unemployment rate for youth in your community, the lack of local jobs for youth, and the link between skills training and later employment. Don’t spend too much time writing about the issues that are not the main concern. The fact that unemployed youth don’t have effective resumes and may lack quality interview skills, although important and may be dealt with inside the program, are not the core concerns.

Also Consider: As you write your needs statement, avoid the circular arguments that too many grant writers are guilty of in their proposal writing. The need for a skills training program for unemployed youth does not exist because there are currently no skills training programs for unemployed youth. That argument is not compelling for a funder. Also, link your program to the funder’s objectives. If your needs statement does not align with the goals of the funder, you may need to consider pursuing a different funding opportunity.

2. Use Data And Comparative Statistics

An effective and strong needs statement must resonate logically in a funder’s mind. The use of quantitative information, made up of the most recent, relevant, and local data you can find, provides an overview and snapshot of your community. Numbers, data, and statistics can paint a picture and tell an important part of the story in underlying the need for your specific solution. For example, it is very different to say that “many youth in Middlesex County find themselves unemployed,” than it is to write that “based on December 2016 stats, 12.5% of youth in Middlesex County aged 16 to 29 find themselves unemployed or underemployed compared to 9.5% in the surrounding counties.” The use of recent and relevant data reveals a much clearer picture of the problem.

By using comparative statistics, a grant writer could show the growing unemployment trend in the area by highlighting the increase in youth unemployment over the past 12 months, or could compare the unemployment rate in other counties in proximity. Use the data to demonstrate the need and the urgency of the problem.

Also Consider: As mentioned earlier, it is important for the data to be recent, relevant, and local. Using municipal data compared to national data will provide a clearer idea of the real problem in your specific community. Incorporating data from 2015 will hold more weight than sourcing statistics from 1999. The more focused the research is on the specific problem in your community, the more a funder will understand the true impact their investment can make.

3. Connect With The Heart

As much as funders will want reliable data and concrete logic in a needs statement, they are also human beings with authentic emotions. Make sure a funder understands the reality of the situation and how the problem in the community is impacting real people. Make it legitimate by telling a story or two. Use qualitative information from surveys, interviews, and ongoing interaction with clients and community members to share testimonials that relate to the heart and soul of the people you wish to serve and the problem that needs to be overcome.

Also Consider: Your needs statement needs a balance of qualitative and quantitative data. Don’t think that by simply pulling at a funder’s heartstrings your proposal will move to the top of the list. Be honest about the challenges your target audience is facing, but not at the expense of their dignity and value. Be prepared to show a funder a glimpse of the community you serve and the impact that will be made.

4. Highlight The Hurdles

One of the final pieces to include in a needs statement is a clear identification of the hurdles or challenges to addressing the problem. In your writing, leave some room in the overall statement to describe the gap that exists between the current state of the community and what the community would be in the future if solutions were implemented. You might also take the opportunity to feature some of the barriers that have prevented resolution of the problem in the past.

Also Consider: It is important for the funder to understand there is a sense of urgency related to the identified gap in your community. As you write, be sure to answer the question, “What happens if we don’t run this program now?” If the funder feels like your solution can wait, or that the need does not demand an immediate response, they will often seek other investments that do require funding immediately.

A Few Final Thoughts

If your grant proposal does not have a compelling need, it is likely that you don’t have a compelling project… or at least that’s what a funder might believe. Take the time to conduct strong research in order to present unmistakable data and profound stories of real people to establish the focus and rationale for your proposal.

Make sure your needs statement sets the tone for the rest of your proposal and provides the opportunity to demonstrate that a critical need exists in your community and that your organization’s solution will make a difference.

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How To Perfect Your Needs Statement [With Examples]

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Table of Contents

Everyone has a good idea — but not all ideas are fundable, and not everyone has the commitment to succeed in grant application writing.

Any quality grant application will first begin with an urgent need and then a project idea to meet that need. It is important to understand the specified need drives the activities of the grant proposal. And it is the urgency and caliber of this need that will get the idea funded .

This article will explain what is a needs statement in grant writing, why needs statements are important for your proposal’s success, how to get started writing, and examples and templates for needs statements.

Grant Proposal Template for Nonprofits (+5 Tips Included)

What is a Statement of Need in Grant Writing?

Grant Writing Needs Statement

‍ Within a grant proposal, a statement of need outlines the compelling societal or community issue that an organization or project aims to tackle.

Crafted effectively, a needs statement emphasizes the urgency of the situation, underscores the existing gaps, and vividly portrays the tangible consequences of unaddressed needs.

This can also sometimes be called a problem statement, and essentially, they are the same thing. The main difference comes down to the root of the issue and your organization.

If there’s a human element to it, then it is a needs statement. If it’s more environmentally based and there’s no direct human element, then it will be a problem statement.

As you write your grant proposal , make sure that you title the section appropriately based on the application instructions to prevent confusion or potential disqualification for not following the requirements.

A succinct statement of need not only captures the attention of funders but also underscores the project's significance and potential positive impact. Your goal is that by the end of the needs statement, the reviewer should have a clear understanding and recognition of the underlying problem—not just its symptoms—and be inspired to be part of the solution.

Why are Needs Statements Important for Your Proposal's Success?

Importance of Needs Statements for Your Proposal's Success

Your needs statement should establish that if the underlying problem or issue is not addressed, it will cause critical failure in your community.

As a grant writer, it is your job to establish the problem and current conditions within your community that you plan to address in your grant application. ‍

The needs statement for grants gives reviewers a sense of the scope of the problem and helps them to establish the relevance and importance of your grant application. It is also a prime opportunity to link the relevance of your grant application to the funder's mission statement and goals .

If your grant application lacks a compelling, urgent need, your grant will be equally unimpressive. Again, it is an urgent need that will get the idea funded. The statement of need drives your grant proposal and outlines why the project must be undertaken.

Furthermore, it provides you with an opportunity to show why your organization is the perfect fit to address the urgent need.

At every point in your proposal, your application should showcase your organization's strengths to meet the need and solve the problem. Next, let’s explore what makes an effective needs statement that will improve the likelihood of success.

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What Makes an Effective Needs Statement?

What Makes an Effective Needs Statement

Strong Description that Gives a Strong Sense of Urgency

A compelling needs statement should read like a human-interest story that shows the grant reviewer a behind-the-scenes picture of a catastrophe, imparting immediate tragedy but also hope for the future .

Try to put a face on the need and make the problem real and immediate.

Assume the reviewer does not know anything about the problem or conditions that drive the project in your grant proposal .

Describe why this issue is an urgent need, who else sees it as a problem, and what are the various community stakeholder views.

Describe what will happen to the community, or those served, if the urgent need is not addressed.

However, do not editorialize or provide emotional appeals—stick to the facts and describe the need in rational terms.

You have the Magic Solution

Reviewers are smart, intelligent people who have to read hundreds of applications one after another— your job is to make the reviewer's job easier by connecting all the dots and making it clear and easy to see that you have the magic solution to solving the detailed urgent need.

Depending on the funding opportunity, it is likely that every application in the reviewer's pile sounds alike and uses the same data—you need to stand out and catch their attention with clear and concise data, an urgent need, and a compelling solution that blends previous success with new innovative answers.

Recent, Reliable, and Rich Supporting Data

An effective needs statement for grants clearly defines the problem with valid and compelling data . It is important to provide accurate and supporting statistics when describing the need. This will prove that someone other than you believes your need is a critical problem.

When identifying data, be sure you use comparative data .

In other words, find data that provides an appropriate comparison (apples to apples) within the community and at the national level. Identify your target population and ensure all of your data is looking at that same populace.

Look for the most recent datasets that are available to ensure recent and timely updates with downward trends. Consider data bias and reliability when comparing sources to ensure that you have quality information to support the urgent need you want to address.

Data can be found across many different sources, including federal and state agencies, demographic information clearinghouses, scholarly journals and articles, and industry publications. Look at recent local surveys or needs assessments. Talk with local colleges, universities, and libraries about public data sets. Approach regional planning committees or development councils to see what data might have been collected.

Consider using Google Scholar as a starting point to find high-quality data sources. Focus on data that compares, describes, predicts, or explains your urgent need. Furthermore, when searching for data , consider both quantitative (mathematical numbers and facts) and qualitative data (stories, interviews, and open comments).

Implications and Importance of the Problem to the Wider Community

An effective needs statement describes the implications and importance of the problem to the wider community .

Describe the cost to the community — and society as a whole. Explain previous and current challenges in addressing the need. Then, illustrate the gap between the current situation and the desired state. Be sure to state all of the various factors that have prevented a sustainable resolution of this urgent need, and then describe why this problem needs to be addressed now. Lastly, include what is currently being done.

Connecting Your Mission to the Funder's Mission through the Needs Statement

An effective needs statement relates the funding application to both your and the funder's mission .

Describe why external funding must be used in order to meet the urgent need, solve the problem, or reduce the gap. Make sure that you address the urgent need locally and on a wider scale — use data to show the problem on each level.

Do not assume that national issues are automatically an urgent local need—find the data to back it up. Focus on describing what could be accomplished within the given funding timeframe, and then briefly detail an action plan that focuses on achievable and measurable goals to meet the specified need.

A word of caution:

Do not confuse your business needs with the urgent need of your target population. Your grant application and your statement of need should focus on the community of interest.

Remember, it is the urgent need that will get the idea funded.

Show the impact of the urgent need in your community or region.

Related Gaps (Not Just Symptoms) Turned to Opportunities

And, finally, an effective needs statement shows the gaps in the current system that provide opportunities for progress .

Use deductive reasoning to show what has not been discussed in the literature or within the community – what has not been addressed and missed.

Describe important gaps within the current system that could be leveraged to create sustainable change.

Set the stage for your grant application to show that your proposed grant will fill the gap and meet the urgent need.

When stating the related gaps, be sure to avoid circular reasoning, where the absence of your solution is the problem.

Circular reasoning is claiming that the absence of your proposed solution is the actual problem.

For example, "Our problem is that we have no health center. The solution is to build a health center." Firstly, in this example, it is not clear how you know that the absence of a health center is truly an urgent need, nor is it specified how you plan to uniquely tackle this lack. An effective needs statement for grants does not frame your solution as an urgent need — it separates and fleshes out the two.

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Tips for Writing Needs Statements

‍ Grant proposals can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to begin to make yours stand out.

Here are some tips to help you write compelling needs statements that will grab the attention of funders:

Understand Your Audience

You need to take a step back and really understand your audience—and when it comes to your needs statement, that means the grant funder.

What do they stand for? What are they looking to accomplish? How can you help them further their mission?

Instrumentl has funder profiles that are helpful in giving you streamlined insights into different grant makers, reducing the time you need to search for information about them. For example, Instrumentl’s Giving by NTEE Code snapshots show you which types of work a funder has given to most.


The more you can understand about a particular funder, the better and more targeted your needs statement can be.

Use Empirical Data and Research

Observational and anecdotal evidence is a great way to draw the reader in, but you need to use empirical data and research to back it up. This objective information can prove that what you are proposing is really needed. It’s not just something that you think is necessary.

Data and research communicate how well thought out your needs statement is and how it ties into the bigger picture. This kind of empirical research is really compelling for companies who are trying to expand their corporate social responsibility efforts and impact their communities in measurable ways.

Incorporate Beneficiary Voices

A great way to humanize a needs statement is to incorporate the real voices of people who have been impacted by your work.

They can speak to the real difference that you’ve made and how it’s changed their lives. These voices add dimension to your needs statement. They help funders see what you’ve accomplished and how they can be a part of growing your impact.

Address Potential Objections

When writing your needs statement, take a step back and consider potential objectives. Is there a way that you can address them?

For example, perhaps you want to solve hunger in your community. That’s a lofty goal, and some may wonder how what you’re doing in the short term will achieve long-term sustainability.

It doesn’t need to be in-depth, but by addressing these issues, you show funders that you are aware of challenges and have plans to address them before they even happen.

Highlight Proven Solutions

You have an idea of how you want to solve the problem or address the need. Your needs statement should be building toward this, so make sure you include why you are uniquely suited to provide the solution.

The funder has many applications, so why should they choose you? What can you do that’s different from others?

Crafting a compelling and comprehensive needs statement is one of the most effective ways to help your proposal stand out against the competition.

What Are the Components of a Needs Statement?

There are different elements that you should include in your needs statement. Here’s an overview, and we’ll walk through examples of how these elements play out in the next sections.


Include a short introduction to set the scene.

It should be no more than a sentence or two, but you want to introduce the reader to the need. You can link it to a global or local need. Was there some catalyst that prompted you to start? You want to entice your reader from the first sentence, so make sure to catch their attention with a strong hook.

Description of the Problem

Next, go into a short description of the problem or need in the community. You don’t want to get into how you plan to solve it yet, so these should be objective statements about what you see as the need.

Relevance and Urgency

Why is the problem important? Is there a driving need for why it should be solved now?

Now that you’ve established the problem, you need to talk about why now—and why you are the organization to address it. Make sure to add data, current research, and other statistics to support your claims.

Local Context

Is there a tie to the community that you want to highlight? What’s the context? This part can help you establish the local impact, which will be critical as you look to engage funders who want to make a difference in their local community.


Who will benefit from this work? Are there community voices who have already benefited that you can highlight? This introduces a human element to your needs statement, so make sure you connect it to actual people.

Comparison With Similar Needs

Are there any similar needs that you’ve helped address? Or other community success stories when a need has been met?

When you’re writing your report, share how you’ll build upon the work that’s already been started and bring it to the next level or distinguish yourself completely. You need to acknowledge that you’re not the only one working on it, but you still have unique value to add.

Barriers to Addressing the Need

Be realistic about any challenges you will face or why this problem continues to persist—after all, if it were easy to fix, it wouldn’t be an ongoing issue!

If others have tried and failed, address how your approach will be different. This does not have to be a comprehensive list. It simply should address that there are challenges you may face.

Evidence-Based Solutions

Everything leads up to this piece: how do you plan to solve it. What evidence do you have to back up your claims? Use data to back up your needs statements where possible. You don’t have to have all the answers, but funders want to see that you have a clear plan about what you want to do.

Organizational Capacity

Why are you the organization to solve these problems?

Here’s where you tie your statement together about how you’re uniquely positioned to meet the need with the help of the funder. You can talk about what you’ll set up with their help, including any increased capacity within your nonprofit.

End with a short conclusion and an action statement about how you will be able to make a difference, but only with their help. You want them to feel like they are an engaged part of the solution and not just a check. Inspire them to be a part of the change with you.

How to Get Started Writing a Good Needs Statement

Getting Started in Writing a Good Needs Statement

In order to get started writing a good needs statement and grant proposal , consider answering the following questions:

1. What Is the Urgent Need That Your Project Will Address?

You need to showcase that your project will address an urgent need.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Who is impacted by the problem, and how?
  • What are the facts and sources that substantiate the urgent need for your project?
  • Can you put a human face to the problem by telling a story, using an example, or sharing a quote?

Your needs statement really needs to speak to the why behind the project, so getting clear on that from the start will be beneficial. You want to inspire funders to be part of the solution, and that starts by explaining the urgent need for the project.

2. What Is Your Solution to the Urgent Need?

Make sure you have an elevator pitch that explains why you are the nonprofit to solve that urgent need—just a short statement of how you plan to solve the issue at hand.

Of course, you’ll have a more detailed plan of how you can solve it with programs and/or services. However, being able to succinctly summarize how you plan to solve the issue will help you pitch your programming in your needs statement and land funding.

3. What Will the World Look Like After Your Project Is Completed?

Allow yourself to imagine how your project could positively impact the world around you and paint that picture for funders. You want them to be inspired to join in your efforts.

For example, if you want to create an afterschool program, you could talk about the impact it will have in the community, how children’s education will be improved, and how it will allow families to work and improve their socioeconomic status.

Think about a big-picture view of the best-case scenario—just make sure you have a clear path to help get there.

5 Needs Statement Templates and Examples

Needs Statement Templates and Examples

Below are three templates and two examples you can use as a starting point for writing your own statement of need.

The Gap in Services Application

Next step in a larger goal application, time-sensitive need application, charity: water needs statement example.

While not part of an actual proposal, Charity: Water does a great job of explaining the need behind their mission on their website .

Charity: Water

“703 million people in the world live without clean water.

That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide. Or, twice the population of the United States. The majority live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Not only does walking for water keep children out of school or take up time that parents could be using to earn money, but the water often carries diseases that can make everyone sick.

But access to clean water means education, income and health - especially for women and kids.”

Why It Works

This statement of need gets right to the point, setting the scene on a global level and backing it up with statistics. It shares why it’s a problem, the impact it has on the community, and what the solution could bring. Best of all, it packs it all in just four sentences!

Kids First Chicago Needs Statement Example

Here’s another great example of communicating need from Kids First Chicago :

“Imagine a Chicago where every child in every community has access to a world-class education—the kind that opens the doors to new opportunities in college, career, and life. These exceptional schools offer an array of unique and innovative programming, and 100% of our students not only graduate, but graduate with the skills to shape our city and the world for the better.

Help us take Chicago’s public education system another “impossible” leap forward. Together, we can create a system where every kid defies gravity—a system that ensures equitable access to quality, funding, and transparent information in all communities—a system that can change the world.”

Why it Works

This statement has an aspirational tone, and brings you along the journey with them to be a part of the solution. It inspires you to take action and imagine a better future.

Recap of Top Tips for Writing a Needs Statement

Recap of Top Tips for Writing a Needs Statement

The Needs Statement Drives your Entire Proposal.

In order for your grant application to be successful, you need the funding reviewer to clearly understand the urgent need that you are attempting to meet—the problem you are trying to solve—and you need to be able to clearly back it up.

Writing the needs statement should be your first step in grant writing, and all parts of your grant application connect back to the needs statement story.

A poorly written statement of need puts the entire grant application in jeopardy, as it often leaves reviewers with too many unanswered questions and a lack of urgency.

A compelling, concise, and effective needs statement establishes a grant application's rationale by clearly identifying the urgent need or unmet problem within your community.

Focus on One Main Underlying Issue.

There are likely many concerns and issues within your community that your organization is trying to address. However, your statement of need must emphasize one single central concern.

Do not get distracted by small, contributing problems. Sort out the urgent central need that you will address. Do not get distracted by symptoms of the central unmet need.

For example, the fact that the unemployed homeless don't have effective resumes and may lack interview skills, although important and may be addressed inside the program, are not central concerns. Find the baseline underlying need that, if not addressed immediately, will cause indeterminable damage to the community.

Use Comparable Data and Statistics to Define the Need.

An effective needs statement clearly defines the problem with valid, accurate, and compelling data. Use both quantitative and qualitative data to tell the story of the underlying need in your community and how your proposed solution will meet that urgent need.

Use both national and local data to show that the problem is focused and evident locally. Do not assume that national trends are relevant to local neighborhoods—demonstrate a clear need and the urgency of the problem by highlighting local trends over the last year.

Tell a Compelling Human-Interest Story.

The needs statement should be balanced with reliable data and authentic emotion. Show the reviewers the true story and how the unmet need is affecting real people. Try to put a face on the need and make the problem real and immediate.

Describe what will happen to the community or those served, if the urgent need is not addressed. Be honest about the challenges your target population is facing by sharing testimonials that are related to the heart of your community.

However, do not get carried away or make emotional appeals—stick to the facts and describe the need in rational terms.

Include Potential Problems and Solutions.

In every grant application, there are potential hurdles or challenges in addressing your urgent need or problem. It is your job as the grant writer to address those obvious concerns for the reviewer.

This may include highlighting barriers that have hindered a resolution of the central need in the past, or challenges that your grant application proposes to meet in new and innovative ways.

It is important to show what has or has not worked in the past, and how your program will incorporate that history of problem-solving.

Don't reinvent the wheel—if something has worked well in the past for your community or for counties in proximity, highlight the continued use of those resources in your proposal. These facts will help the funder to understand the true impact their investment can make in your community.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Write a Needs Statement for Grants

How to Write a Needs Statement for Grants

A compelling needs statement presents unmistakable data and profound stories of real people to establish the focus and rationale for your grant application. The needs statement sets the attitude for the rest of your proposal and provides the opportunity to demonstrate that an urgent need exists in your community and that your organization's solution will make a difference.

Two things as we wrap up: if you need help writing general operating grants, you may find our post on that topic helpful here .

And lastly, to increase your grant writing efforts and bring all of your grant writing needs into one place, try Instrumentl for 14-days free !

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How to Write a Compelling Need Statement for Your Grant Proposal

by Fundid on Nov 17, 2021 1:45:00 PM

Before giving you funding for a grant proposal , a benefactor has to be convinced that your project fulfills a pressing need. They need to be assured of its importance both practically and passionately.

That balance can be difficult to master. But it can be done by writing a document that serves as the rational and philosophical center of your proposal: the statement of need.

What Is a Statement of Need in a Grant Proposal?

The need statement serves as a direct definition of the situation, problem, or issue that your project addresses or solves. It spells out the situation to the foundation or agency staff who are ultimately responsible for issuing the grant.

The needs statement is the primary driver of your grant proposal. It explains the problem at hand, its effect on the community, the benefits of solving it, and the ramifications of not solving it.

Oftentimes, the needs statement is the starting point for the grant proposal . Before the grant writer sets out what they want to do, it’s helpful to understand the depth of the problem they want to address. The needs statement establishes the context for the whole proposal.

Why is a need statement for a grant proposal important? Quite simply, it tells potential funders why they should care about the issue. A good needs statement inspires benefactors to be agents of change. It makes them want to take some responsibility for improving the lives of others.

But first, funders have to be convinced that the issue is important to solve — and that the grant will help to solve it. 

What Makes a Compelling Needs Statement for a Grant Proposal?

The needs statement is a combination of data and insight that appeals to both intellect and emotion — in other words, it addresses both the mind and the heart. An effective needs statement navigates that balance to create a riveting narrative.

A successful needs statement has a few necessary components:

What is the current situation that your proposed grant addresses? Explain it in detail. For example, your community may have a problem with teenage crime, and you believe building a youth recreation center will help ease the problem. Describe the known facts and current status of the issue at hand.

Tell the stories of the person or group most affected by the situation. What have they experienced as a result of this problem? How has it affected them and their families on a personal and measurable basis? A few real-life accounts go a long way in spelling out the impact of the problem.

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Funders want to see evidence. They need to have real, comparative, and current data that shows how the problem is affecting the community. They also need comparative data that shows how your solution will work, or how similar solutions have worked in other communities. 

This data should be quantitative and quantitative — both hard numbers and reasoned interpretations.

A well-written needs statement organizes all these elements in a clear, concise, and logical way. It can’t be too aspirational or unprovable — it must be comprehensible and realistic, while being interesting and engaging for the general readership. 

What Should a Need Statement for a Grant Proposal Include?

Here’s how to write a statement of need and every element it must cover. Staying organized during this process is important for any business owner. If you are looking for a way to keep everything organized, try ClickUp or Asana as a project tool with you or with your whole team.

Project Name

Your project should have a captivating name or title that creates interest on a wide scale. This doesn’t have to be the first thing you do , but it should be the first thing listed on your needs statement.

When will the project launch? Try to be precise -- to the exact date, if possible.

Problem Description

Explain the underlying problem you’re concerned about — what is the situation you want to fix? It could be anything from a sidewalk in disrepair to a rise in violent crime or a local housing shortage.

Who’s Affected by the Problem or Need?

Funders will want to know the people who are suffering the most from this issue — who are they? How are they connected to the problem, and what effect has it had on their lives? Describe the people who hold the highest stakes in solving the issue.

Problem Implications

Tell about what will happen if the problem is not resolved. What or who will suffer the most and exactly how will it impact the community? This point will likely need real-world, comparative data to back up your assertion.

Potential Roadblocks or Challenges

It’s important to be upfront with prospective funders about what could go wrong with your project — everything from schedule conflicts and equipment shortages to public resistance and difficult approval processes. The grantor may even have ideas on how to overcome these challenges.

Sense of Urgency

Why does this solution need to happen now ? Why can’t it wait another minute? A good needs statement will convey why the project should be a top priority but won’t be melodramatic or exaggerated.

Potential Outcome

What will be the result if your proposal is accepted, and work is completed? What tangible benefits will occur, and how will lives improve? This may be the most important factor in lining up financing — it’s the result your benefactor wants to see come from their gift.

Real-World Examples

The problem you’re trying to solve may seem unique to your locality — but chances are other communities have faced very similar problems and found ways to solve them. Find anecdotal examples that show how your solution has worked in real life.

Statistics and Data

Where possible, every element in this section should be backed up by hard data. It should be extensively documented, clearly explained, and easily verifiable. 

Foundations and charitable organizations have missions uppermost in their minds — but they’re also businesses. All businesses thrive and survive on data and research. With this in mind, you’ll want to have as much data as they can digest to support your case. 

Tips for Writing a Need Statement for a Grant Proposal

Here are a few guidelines for writing an effective statement of need.

Write for a General Audience

You should keep the reviewer in mind as your target audience. But aim to make your statement understandable to anyone who may be interested in the issue. To that end, avoid using jargon or “insider” language in your statement — spell out unfamiliar terms or acronyms.

Assume the Reviewer Isn’t Familiar With Your Situation

No matter how much experience the reviewer may have with issues like yours, assume they don’t. Explain your story in detail, outlining the causes and conditions that have led to the problem you want to solve.

Appeal to the Heart — But Rely on the Facts

A needs statement needs to reflect a tricky balance between emotions and intellect. While you should make a case that resounds on a personal level, let rationality drive your efforts. Avoid over-editorializing or sentimentalizing the issue — just explain how your solution will work. 

The statement of need is the inspirational core of your entire grant proposal and the project it serves. Search for examples of need statements that have worked for other organizations and use them to create your own compelling mission statement and plan. Are you interested in getting some help with this? We have a tool Upwork that we use as a company and gives you the opportunity to hire a grant writing expert to help you with this.

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need statement meaning

Writing a Strong Need Statement for Your Grant Proposal

Master the art of crafting a compelling need statement for your grant proposal.

need statement meaning

The heart of every grant proposal lies in its need statement. It’s the section that makes the reader understand why your project or program is essential.

A compelling need statement can mean the difference between a grant’s acceptance or rejection.

So, how can one ensure that the need statement stands out and hits all the right notes?

Read on to master the art of writing a strong need statement.

need statement meaning

A need statement is a clear, concise, and well-structured section in a grant proposal that describes the problem or issue your project seeks to address.

It provides context for the reader, painting a picture of the current situation and detailing why there's a pressing need for your proposed solution.

It's not just about stating the problem but also showing the gravity of the issue and the difference your project can make.

1. The Components of a Robust Need Statement:

Clarity and Specificity: The issue should be well-defined and presented clearly. Avoid generalities or vague statements.

Evidence-Based: Support your claims with credible data and research. This can include statistics, studies, or expert testimonials.

Relatability: Even with the use of hard data, there should be an emotional or human element. Stories or anecdotes can make your statement resonate more.

Alignment with Grantor's Objectives: Ensure that the need you describe aligns well with the grantor's goals and objectives.

2. Crafting Your Need Statement: Step-by-Step Guide

Begin with Research: Start by gathering all the relevant data that can highlight the severity of the problem. Look for recent studies, statistics, or testimonials that can support your claims.

Describe the Problem: Clearly outline the issue you're addressing. This could be anything from a lack of access to clean water in a community to the need for improved mental health resources in schools. Be specific in your description.

Show the Impact: Detail the broader implications of the issue. How does it affect individuals, families, the community, or even society at large? Use both quantitative and qualitative data to showcase the problem's ripple effects.

Personalize the Issue: Include personal stories or anecdotes that can make the problem more relatable. This humanizes the data and gives it a face.

Position Your Solution: Briefly hint at how your proposed project or program can address this need. This is just a teaser for what's to come in the proposal.

Reiterate Alignment with the Grantor: Ensure that the problem and your solution align with the goals and values of the grantor. They should see a clear connection between your proposal and their mission.

3. Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Overloading with Data: While it's crucial to back up your claims with data, overloading your statement with too many numbers can be overwhelming. Strike a balance.

Being Too Vague: Avoid general statements. If you're discussing a health issue, for instance, don't just say "health is a concern." Specify what aspect of health and why.

Overly Emotional Appeals: While personal stories can be impactful, they should be used judiciously. Relying too heavily on emotion without the data to back up your claims can appear manipulative.

Not Tailoring to the Grantor: Different grantors have different priorities. Tailor your need statement according to the specific grantor you're addressing.

4. The Role of Language and Tone:

Using persuasive language is vital. Your words should inspire urgency and a desire to act. The tone should be serious and professional, yet compassionate. Remember, you're not just stating facts; you're making a case for why the grantor should invest in your solution.

5. Conclusion:

A well-written need statement is more than just a description of a problem. It's a compelling narrative that underscores the significance of the issue and highlights the potential of your proposed solution. By combining clear, evidence-based data with relatable anecdotes and aligning with the grantor's objectives, you'll significantly enhance your proposal's chances of success.

Further Reading:

For those keen on diving deeper into the art and science of grant writing, the book " Advanced Grant Writing" is a must-have resource. Not only does it provide more in-depth strategies for crafting powerful need statements, but it also covers every facet of the grant writing process.

From identifying potential grantors to crafting compelling narratives and ensuring all proposal components are cohesive, this book will guide you every step of the way. Don't miss out on unlocking the secrets of successful grant proposals.

Purchase " Advanced Grant Writing" today.

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Need Statements in Healthcare Innovation

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Need screening is a rigorous process of filtering and ranking a collection of need statements based on objective metrics such as healthcare value, market size, clinical impact, disease state, and disease pathophysiology. 9

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User Need Statements: The ‘Define’ Stage in Design Thinking by Sarah Gibbons, Nielson Norman Group.

User Need Statements: The ‘Define’ Stage in Design Thinking

The user need statement. What is it and why do you need to make one? In  design thinking  (as well as in any product-development process), it is important to define the problem you want to solve before spending time and resources on generating possible solutions. ( A great solution to the wrong problem will fail .) Creating a user needs statement maximizes the use of resources and decreases the likelihood for friction and disagreement in the prototyping, testing, and implementation stages.  

The user need statement , also often called a  problem statement  or  point-of-view statement , is the primary tool in the second stage of design thinking — the define stage; they align different points of view and create a common understanding of the problem to be solved before moving forward into  ideating .


Grant Writing Made Easy

How to Write a Strong Statement of Need Grants Grant Writing research writing How to Write a Strong Statement of Need How to Write a Strong Statement of Need

  • by kristakurlinkus
  • September 15, 2022
  • Grant Writing , Grants , research , writing

The statement of need . . . of all the sections of the grant, this is the most complex because it involves the most research and argumentation.

Today I’m going to share some strategies for laying the foundation for a well-argued statement of need.

Before we go any further, let’s review what a statement of need is and what it is not .

This section of a grant is where you seek to convince the grantmaker of the need for your work. While it seems obvious to you that the cause you’re addressing is important, it’s important to step back and consider how to convince the grantmaker that your work, of all the work being done by nonprofits, is what they should fund right now.

The statement of need is not a section to describe why you need funding or what you’ll do with the funding; it’s all about the need for your organization and/or your program.

Read on to learn:

  • The questions you should ask first
  • The role of research in your statement of need

Your next steps

The question you should ask first.

When I teach the statement of need in Grant Writing Made Easy, I encourage people to start by writing about why they first started doing the work they’re seeking funding for. So for example, if you run an after school program, why did you start it? Get specific about the very moment you saw the need for your work.

Did you talk to a teacher about the need for after school tutoring? Did you hear from a parent you know that they needed a safe place for their child to spend the after school hours? Maybe you’re a parent, and you saw the need in your own child’s school.

And what did you first hope to accomplish with the program? In this example, maybe it’s better reading test scores. Maybe it’s better social and emotional skills. Maybe it’s a sense of community in a school that had a problem with bullying.

Once you write down your personal story for doing the work, begin looking for the assumptions within it. 

Let’s say you started the after school program for students at a local high school to help them with their post-secondary planning. Two of the assumptions underlying this program are that post-secondary planning leads to better outcomes for students when they leave high school and that meeting with a trusted adult will help students with their post-secondary planning. There are also local factors that you need to consider – what are post-secondary attainment rates in the school you’re working in (i.e. how many students attend college, trade school, or enter the workforce after graduation) and does the high school have a guidance counseling staff that meets the needs of the students. 

Once you have your origin story down, list the assumptions and then ask questions to guide your research. Again, while it may be obvious to you that the particular community you’re working in needs an after school program, it won’t be obvious to the grantmaker.

So in this example, you could list the following questions (and more, but these are a good starting point):

  • What research supports the claim that post-secondary planning leads to better outcomes for high school graduates?
  • What does the research say about the role of a trusted adult in a student’s post-secondary planning?
  • What were the post-secondary attainment rates in your school before you started your program? (And has there been a change?)
  • How does the ratio of guidance counseling staff to students affect post-secondary attainment rates?

Again, this list of questions could go on and on, but these are a good starting point. Start with a few questions, and then use those to guide your research. (Read on for more about the role of research in a statement of need.)

The role of research in a statement of need

Once you have your list of questions, you’ll need answers! That is where research comes in.

Grantmakers want to hear not only what you have to say about the need, but also what the research says about the need. 

Incorporating research is one of the best ways to boost your ethos (or credibility) to a grantmaker. 

With that in mind, I have a few best practices for using research. First of all, make sure the research you include is credible. It’s not enough to do a quick Google search and pull the first statistic you find, if it’s coming from a source that can’t be trusted. A good rule of thumb is to go to government and academic sources first, and then go on a case-by-case basis with other sources.

Secondly, you need to make sure the research is relevant and timely. If you’re based in Detroit and writing a statement of need for the post-secondary planning after school program, it’s best to include statistics that are as local as you can get them and within the past few years. 

Third, don’t stop at demographic data or statistics. You can also use research to support your program strategies. You’ll do more of this in the program design section, but you can include some of it in the statement of need. For example, what does the academic literature say about the importance of high school students having a trusted adult involved in their post-secondary planning. 

You can draw a throughline from the ratio of guidance counselors to students to the need for your program, if the research says that it’s important for students to spend time developing trust with the adult helping them plan for what’s next after high school. 

How to conduct research and integrate it into your writing is a whole other discussion, and I don’t want to overwhelm you right now. Read on for your next steps.

Once you’ve written the story of how you became aware of the need for your work and brainstormed a list of questions you need to answer with research, you’ve laid the groundwork for a compelling and well-argued statement of need.

The work does not end there, though.

Like I said, there are strategies you can use to find the right information (credible, relevant, and timely) and particular techniques that you can use to integrate that information into your own writing.

I am covering all this and more in the first-ever Statement of Need Workshop .

I’ve done workshops like this before, but this is the first one I’m doing on the statement of need.

Here is what’s included when you sign up:

→ 2-hour live training on September 29 at 11 am CT/12 pm ET

→ Fillable workbook

→ Slides and recording of the training

→Templates and example statements of need

Registration is open right now. We’re capping this event at 150 people, so make sure you save your spot ASAP !

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Examples logo

13+ Need Statement Examples & Samples in PDF

Need Statement Examples

The need statement provides a clear explanation of an issue being addressed by a proposal template . Every proposal hinges on how well the need statement is written and how it conveys the message across much like a mission statement would to a company or organization.

A financial statement , for example, conveys the financial state of a company and conveys that message across to decision makers. Other need statement examples found in the page further explains the importance of a need statement to all proposals and how an effective needs statement could spell award or grant for the proposal or project.

Statement of Financial Need Example

Academic scholarship financial need.

financial need statement example for scholarship

Size: 120 KB

Business Needs Statement Example

It business needs.

it business needs statement

Size: 26 KB

Mission Need Statement Examples

Fda mission statement.

fda mission need statement

Mission Need Statement Example

mission element need statement

Size: 151 KB

What Are Needs Statements?

Needs statements, otherwise known as problem statements, specifies the existence of an issue and how a proposal plans to solve that issue. The needs statement sets the tone for the entirety of the business statements that follow and how to go about solving the issues stated.

Importance of a Needs Statement

A needs statement holds significant importance over any proposal since it clearly defines the problem or issue in relation to the solutions presented in the proposal. A good needs statement should mainly include answers to the following:

  • What is the problem? A needs statement clearly identifies the problem statement presented in the proposal
  • When an issue occurs, where does it occur? You must always include the location of any issue and the time it occurs.
  • How do you know? The needs statement should be in conjunction to the supporting document being provided.

Impact statement like needs statements summarize the importance of the effect that any group or organization has on the community or to the issue being discussed.

Proposal Needs Statement

Grant proposal needs.

grant proposal needs statement

Size: 305 KB

Operational Needs Statement

Urgent operational need.

urgent operational needs statement

Size: 229 KB

Universal Need Statement Example

Urgent universal need.

urgent universal need statement

Size: 687 KB

Training Needs Analysis

training needs statement

Size: 156 KB

Research Needs Statement

research need statement sample

Size: 134 KB

What Document Includes a Needs Statement?

There are potentially many different documents that would include a needs statement.

Research papers or documents have a needs statement for the purpose of identifying what the research statement is about and what present issues there are in relation to the solutions that will be presented in the entirety of the research paper. The needs statement encapsulates the different reasons behind the research and where the research is headed.

Grants , whether for scholarly or business purposes, must always include a needs statement. The needs statement clearly identifies the purpose of the grant and how it is related to the cause of the organization asked for funding.

Contracts always include a needs statement since the formulation of such contracts solely depend on whether or not the exchange of the contract would solve the issue being presented.

Mission statements essentially in themselves are needs statements. They contain the aim or purpose of the organization and the direction in which to take in tackling identified problems.

Proposals.  The very nature of proposals shout out the purpose of a needs statement. Proposals aim to solve an identified problem. Proposals specifically answer the statement of the problem provided in the very structure of the proposal.

There are several other documents that may contain the needs statement but the above mentioned should cover for most of them. Needs statement help convince potential sponsors or decision makers to invest or provide funding to a proposed project or grant proposal.

Statement examples in Doc and statement examples in Excel found in the page all provide additional information regarding what documents have needs statements in them and how the needs statements provide direction or goal to a proposal or project.

Educational Needs Statement

educational need statement

Size: 91 KB

Customer Need Statement

customer need statement

Size: 19 KB

Fundraising Statement

fundraising needs statement

Size: 81 KB

Program Needs Statement

program needs statement

Size: 534 KB

Scholarship Needs Sample

scholarship needs statement

Guidelines in Preparing Needs Statements

In preparation for making a needs statement, the following should be considered:

  • The needs statement should contain the what of the free proposal examples and should focus on the issue at hand.
  • The needs statement should not in any way mention of the solution but of the issues being addressed by the needs statement analysis . Instead of presenting the solutions, it should present the identified issues.
  • A needs statement should be broad enough to exhaust all possible solutions or alternatives to issues being presented. It should not narrow down and congest paths that may exist or potential ways in addressing an issue
  • Evidence of the existence of such issues must be established by the needs statement. Issues being presented must be factual and should have an established link leading to the formulation of such a needs statement.
  • Basis for the needs statement must be from facts and supporting data. Numerical data based on performance reports , financial statements should be the basis for the formulation of the needs statement.

Research statement examples on the page explain further in how a needs statement is structured and made. The samples are available for download via the download link button beneath the sample file.

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How to Begin Developing a Statement of Need

by Funding For Good | May 3, 2023 | Development/Fundraising , Grant Writing

need statement meaning

Nearly all grant applications require a statement of need. This is for good reason!

A statement of need communicates key information to donors about your organization and its work. After reading your statement of need, donors should come away feeling certain that their contributions will be supporting critical yet unmet public or community needs. Reading between the lines, donors should also be confident that your organization fully understands these needs and is prepared to meet them.

It’s a lot to accomplish in a few paragraphs within a larger grant proposal!

So let’s walk through the basics of writing a statement of need that will leave donors feeling confident that your organization is the perfect group to receive their precious dollars.

What is a Statement of Need?

 A statement of need for a grant describes the specific public or community needs an organization or project will address. An effective needs statement conveys urgency, demonstrates how critical needs are currently unmet or underserved, and reveals the real-world impact of unmet needs. It also points to how these needs can realistically be met with targeted investment. Finally, the quality and nuance of a statement of need demonstrate that the applicant organization is best positioned to do the work proposed.

In many cases, a statement of need may not be that long, especially for foundation grants. You may only have 2-4 paragraphs to convey all the above.

Your statement of need also sets up the rest of your grant proposal, which is why it’s so important to get right.

The Building Blocks of a Strong Statement of Need

 The good news is that, if you’ve undertaken a comprehensive program planning process or organizational strategic planning process , you already have the main elements for your statement of need. 

There are five core building blocks in a statement of need:

  • What  is the need or problem?
  • Who  has the need or problem?
  • Why  is this a need or problem?
  • What  will happen if the need or problem is not addressed?
  • How  do you know this information?

 If other organizations are addressing the same problem, your needs statement should also identify gaps in what they’re doing. Explain how your  program or project  will fill those gaps. However, 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 .

How to Write a Statement of Need for a Grant

 The first step in writing a statement of need is to gather all the information above. You’ll need answers to the five building-block questions, along with information about other organizations addressing the same need (if there are any).

The importance of data

At Funding for Good, we like to start with a rough draft that gathers all our information in one place. Don’t think about wordsmithing or editing yet. Instead, focus on content. A statement of need should be grounded in data. Do you have data to back up the need for the work you’re proposing?

Data can come in many forms. For example:

  • Census or other government data
  • Community meetings
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Original analyses of existing datasets
  • Reports your organization or others have published
  • Case studies
  • Policy details and analysis
  • Requests for services your organization receives

In writing a first draft of your needs statement, you may realize you don’t have enough data to make a compelling case. If so, then you will need to stop and gather more. If you simply cannot find any way to document the need you’re proposing to address, then it’s time to take a step back and reassess your organization’s programming and plans.

Finding solid data can sound like a high bar. But if there is a need, there will be a way to document it. For example, if you’re totally stuck, then go out and talk to the people or communities your program is designed to benefit.

At Funding for Good, our team has written thousands of statements of need. Not once have we been unable to craft a strong statement of need. Why? Because we dug deeper and kept asking questions.

But until you have the right information, your needs statement won’t make a clear and compelling case for your grant proposal.

Writing your statement of need

Once you’ve documented the need your organization is proposing to address, then it’s time to paint a picture for your donor. You want donors to read your proposal and walk away thinking:

“Wow, this is such important and valuable work that addresses such a clear need. We must fund it!”

To achieve this, you’ll need to use your data to tell a compelling story. When crafting your statement, be sure to:

  • Start by describing the broad need and then narrow down with data to reveal the causes and consequences of that need—and how it can be addressed.  
  • Demonstrate that you fully understand the problem at all levels.
  • Use adjectives that paint a picture, such as inadequate, outdated, tiny, underserved, etc.
  • Include an example of what the impact of the unaddressed need looks like. A case study or client story can make statistics even more compelling.
  • Strike a balance between “need” and “hopelessness.” You want to demonstrate that the need is urgent and pressing, but also that there is hope for change (with the right investments).
  • Consider including charts or graphs. This can make dense data much easier to understand.
  • Be honest about entrenched and difficult-to-address needs. It doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t try. But since your need statement sets up your grant proposal, you want to be sure donors walk away with realistic expectations about what can be accomplished during the proposed grant period.

Remember, Your Organization is the Expert

Writing a statement of need can feel daunting, but when approached methodically it doesn’t have to be. Before writing a single word, start by gathering your data. It’s not only the core of your needs statement, but it can help you get past that daunting blank page.

Once you have your data, then it’s all about telling a story that will move donors. Remember, your organization is the expert here. You know your community needs and how to address them. Be sure to let that experience, compassion, and expertise shine through.

need statement meaning

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Definition of statement

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Word History

1702, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Phrases Containing statement

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Dictionary Entries Near statement

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“Statement.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2024.

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  • What is a needs assessment? 3 types and ...

What is a needs assessment? 3 types and examples

Team Asana contributor image

A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, otherwise known as "gaps," between current and desired outcomes. When used properly, this assessment provides valuable insight into your team’s processes and highlights areas for efficiency improvements.

When you’re balancing multiple growth initiatives and new projects, it’s hard to know which team improvements to prioritize. Where do you even begin?

When in doubt, try a needs assessment. A needs assessment helps you determine the most important process gaps so you can achieve your desired outcome in the shortest amount of time. Not only will assessing your current processes give you insight into how your team works, but it can also help identify areas of potential efficiency improvements.

What is a needs assessment?

A needs assessment is a process for determining the needs, or "gaps," between a current and desired outcome. It’s a part of strategic planning—essentially, a needs assessment helps you pinpoint how you’ll accomplish your strategic goals. 

A need is an opportunity for improvement within a particular process or system. When you identify—and resolve—needs, you can act on potential new opportunities, like making processes more efficient, streamlining resource allocation , and identifying resource gaps in your current workflow .  

For example, say your team is working on a process to organize customer data. A needs assessment would be a great way to understand where gaps exist in the data collection process—such as missing or inaccurate information—and where internal resources could be better utilized.

What is the purpose of a needs assessment?

A needs assessment identifies areas within your organization that need improvement. Use a needs assessment on existing processes to analyze data and inform internal changes.

Examples of processes you might use a needs assessment to accomplish include:

A process to automate duplicative manual work

A customer journey process that is underperforming

It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly where enhancements are needed. When you’re faced with multiple areas of opportunity, a needs analysis can help you identify the best areas of improvement. 

Example of a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to improve processes, but it’s not always easy to get started. Start by taking a look at some example questions to get a better understanding of the data you’re looking for.

Needs assessment example questions

Success rate questions

What activities must be done to accomplish our objectives? 

What is the probability our solution is a success? 

What tasks are required to successfully solve our needs?

Performance questions

Which KPIs are we using to measure performance?

What does excellent performance look like?

What does current performance look like?

Operational questions

Which stakeholders are involved?

Where does the need occur within the process?

How frequently do we observe the need?

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

How to conduct a needs assessment

Success rate questions:

Performance questions:

Operational questions:

Identifying needs requires team communication, problem-solving skills, and out-of-the-box ideas. Use these questions as a jumping-off point to get the ball rolling. Once you know which questions to ask, you can begin to gather data.

6 steps for conducting a needs assessment

A needs assessment is a great way to analyze and interpret relevant data that will influence your decision-making. To do this, you need to understand your team’s baseline needs, as well as the process’s overall desired outcome. 

Enlist the help of key stakeholders, funders, and decision makers and collect feedback through meetings or brainstorming sessions. However you choose to start, here are the four steps to follow when conducting a needs assessment. 

[inline illustration] Steps for conducting needs assessment (infographic)

1. Identify your team’s needs

To determine the gaps between existing and ideal processes, you first need to understand what the ideal process looks like. Clear objectives are the best way to ensure you’re creating a measurable, actionable, and results-oriented needs assessment. 

Before you can start collecting and analyzing information for your needs assessment, take some time to consider your desired outcomes. Set objectives and gather data on areas of opportunity to plan deadlines and understand the intended outcome. 

Your team members are probably closer to the process than you are, and they have valuable insight into potential process improvements. Gather feedback from your project team, or host a general brainstorming session to identify your team’s biggest gaps. 

Work with your team to answer the following questions: 

What needs are you trying to solve? 

How is this process currently implemented? 

Where are the biggest opportunity gaps? 

What are your desired outcomes? 

Are you looking to solve a specific problem or a more general process? 

Do you have clear, measurable data sources? 

How will you measure success?

2. Measure and allocate your resources

Before you start your assessment, decide exactly how much bandwidth your team has and how much you’re willing to spend on the project. Also, determine how much time you’re giving yourself to meet your goals. Do you want to fill the gaps in six months? A year? Knowing exactly how much bandwidth you have will allow you to take a systematic approach to your report. 

Your team’s availability and organizational resources will impact the comprehensiveness of your needs assessment. If you allot more time to your needs assessment, you’ll be able to spend more time on data collection. 

3. Collect internal information

Next, gather information and collect data on how to best solve the identified gaps. Remember that the goal of a needs assessment is to understand how to get from your current process to the desired outcome. 

Gather data from various departments and stakeholders who are closest to the process. At this point, you’ve already brainstormed with your close project team members, but it’s also critical to understand what your cross-functional partners need from this process improvement as well. 

In order to create a good needs assessment, you need detailed information, so encourage stakeholders to share in depth data about their specific needs. The more information you have, the more likely your needs assessment is to succeed.

Some questions to consider when gathering information include: 

Where are improvements needed?

Why are current methods underperforming?

Do we have enough resources to execute a more successful process?

These questions will help you gather the necessary details to move on to step four.

4. Gather external information

Once you’ve gathered information from your project team and from cross-functional stakeholders, all that’s left is to gather information from external sources. Getting information from external sources, in addition to your internal collaborators, gives you a bird’s-eye view of the process from start to finish. 

There are multiple ways to gather external information on your target group, including:

Customer questionnaires: Used to gather quick, high-level customer data from multiple geographical locations

Focus groups: Used to gather in-depth information from a specific geographical location

It’s also a good idea to enlist a fresh pair of eyes to follow the process from start to finish to catch additional inefficiencies. While the type of needs assessment technique you use will depend on your situation, you should opt for the one that gives you the best chance of correcting inefficiencies.

5. Get feedback

A needs assessment is all about corporate and community needs. Test your findings with diverse groups of people who might have varying perspectives (and biases ) on your data. Share it with stakeholders and community members alike to gauge how both your higher-ups and target audience are going to react to any process changes. 

A few people who may want to see your assessment include: 

Project partners

Community members


With the feedback you receive, you can make any necessary adjustments to the report before you start making large-scale changes to your identified needs. 

6. Use your data

At this point, you’ve collected all of the information you can. The only thing left to do is to use your needs assessment results and insights to make a final report and an action plan.

Use the information you gathered in steps one through five to transform your needs assessment data into a cumulative report. In addition to the notes, details, and observations you’ve made during your brainstorming sessions, add a summary documenting the next steps—in particular, the phases, technical assistance, training programs, and other components that will help you implement the process changes. 

Implementing the results of your needs assessment will take time. Make sure your team has an effective process in place to guide the improvement, like:

Project management tools : Help to organize information and communicate with team members

Change management : Assists with documenting need and gap changes

Business process management (BPA) : Helps to analyze and improve processes

Process implementation planning : Outlines the steps needed to reach a shared goal

Needs assessment examples

There are many different data collection methods—from quantitative techniques like surveys to qualitative techniques such as focus groups. Your target demographic may influence your methodology, so take into account whose perspective you’re looking for before you decide. 

Needs assessments provide crucial data on existing processes and help teams create more effective systems. 

[inline illustration] 3 types of needs assessment (infographic)

Here are three of the most popular methods of collecting needs assessment data:


Questionnaires and interviews are the most popular methods for collecting data. A questionnaire is a surface-level form with general yes or no questions. This is a great way to get quick information from respondents.

Use for things like: Evaluating the effectiveness of your brand identity

Many teams use surveys to collect external information around customer experience. Surveys often include open-ended questions, so they provide more in-depth information than questionnaires. This is a great way to find accurate but quick information.

Use for things like: Evaluating the success of your post-purchase experience from the customer’s perspective

Focus groups

A focus group is an interview involving a small number of participants who share common traits or experiences. While they require considerably more time than the other two methods, focus groups provide extensive information around needs and customer experience. This is a great way to gather in-depth information.

Use for things like: Evaluating how your customers experience your brand and what they think could be improved

Identify your team’s needs with an analysis

Performing a needs assessment is a great way to understand how current processes are being handled and how you can streamline tasks and communication. Knowing which needs are most important isn’t always obvious. With a needs analysis, you can gather the data you need to make your team more efficient. 

If you’re looking to improve efficiency and productivity as a team, keep information and tasks streamlined with productivity software. From empowering collaboration to creating and sharing templates, Asana can help.

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How to Write a Statement of Financial Need

need statement meaning

Many students want to know how to write a statement of financial need since it is a challenge. Deciding what is appropriate to include or omit can make all the difference, so it’s also especially important that you use your words economically and effectively.

What is a Statement of Financial Need?

College is an investment, but for many students financial aid may not be enough to cover the cost. Because of this, students may find themselves needing to write a statement of financial need, which is a brief statement explaining your financial situation. Generally, the statement of financial need will go beyond what is captured by the FAFSA or CSS profile.

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide to show you how to write a statement of financial need.

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How we organized this article.

We’ll start with a “Do’s and Don’ts” list. This list will answer questions you may have about which details to include in your statement. Once you’ve got an idea of what should be included, we’ll show you a general template for writing these statements, including some examples. This will help you illustrate your points thoroughly while staying under the word limit. We also included some relevant FAQs just in case you had a few more questions. 

Related: Top need based scholarships

What to include in your statement

  • A quick rundown of your family’s employment situation. This includes who in the family is working, what type of job they hold, and if you are working to help support your education or to help support your family
  • Whether you are a first-generation college student
  • If you or your parents are immigrants or refugees
  • Whether you or your parents speak English as a second language, or do not speak English at all
  • If you were raised by a single parent, or in a foster home
  • Any extenuating circumstances that could be affecting your family’s finances, such as medical issues or job loss. Any recent shortfall in your family’s financial situation is worth mentioning
  • If you are a member of any minority group (for many colleges, recruiting underrepresented students is an institutional priority as they seek to create a diverse community).
  • Opportunities that you would be able to accept if the scholarship helped meet your financial need. An example would be if you are pursuing an unpaid or low-paying internship over the summer, but needed to earn money to help pay for next semester’s tuition

What to avoid in your statement

  • Try to avoid a negative or dramatic tone. Even if your financial situation is stressful, try not to communicate that stress in your statement. It’s best to let the facts speak for themselves
  • Avoid comparing your situation with the situations of others. Remember, this essay is about you, and why someone in your situation could benefit from the scholarship
  • Avoid focusing too much on tangential details. Try to only include the details that are immediately relevant to your ability to further your education. For example, if your family has experienced a financial shortfall because your father lost his job, you don’t need to go into details of your father’s business or his chance of being re-hired. You need only to mention that it has led to your family receiving less than their projected income for the year, and that this impacts your ability to pay for college

Related: What’s the best scholarship essay format?

Now that you know what to include in your essay, you’re ready to start writing your statement of financial need. This can be done by following a step-by-step process:

Create an outline

Write your introduction.

  • Format your essay with body paragraphs

Finish with a strong conclusion

Let’s get started with the first step…

To get started with your outline, try writing out a bullet-point list of the details you’d like to include in your essay. Include all of the details that emphasize your financial need. This includes demographic information, your parents’ employment, and any extenuating circumstances your family is experiencing. Once you have that list, use it as a guide to help format the statement of financial need.

See also: How to write a 250 word essay

In your first sentence, introduce yourself by touching on some key demographic points about yourself. For example, you could write:

“As a first-generation college student who was raised by a single parent, I have worked as a cashier throughout high school to help pay the bills.”

These are all points that do not require too much elaboration. They can be brought up together in the first sentence to give the reader an idea of what they will be reading. Use the rest of the introduction to quickly lay out the discussion points, saving the detail for later.

Related: How to start a scholarship essay

Formatting your essay with body paragraphs

Body paragraphs are your opportunity to dive into the relevant details. Elaborate on the points that you mentioned in the introduction to give a more vivid picture of why you are having trouble paying for your education. These include extenuating circumstances, parents’ employment status, and your employment status.

In addition, you can use these paragraphs to help illustrate your sense of financial responsibility. If you have a college savings account or have taken initiatives to help yourself secure the funds for college, mention them here. Emphasize that there is still a gap between what you are expected to pay and what you are able to pay.

Also see: How to write a financial aid appeal letter

Now is the time to discuss how the increased funding would create opportunities for you. You can mention the internship that you would take if you didn’t have to work all summer to pay your tuition, or describe how one of your other financial hardships would be lightened by receiving this scholarship.

The conclusion is where you make the scholarship committee realize what they could do for you by granting you the scholarship; once you’ve established your need, use the conclusion to illustrate how important this opportunity is to you. We hope that you now know how to write a statement of financial need. Best of luck!

Submitting your statement of financial need is not a guarantee of more aid

We should also mention that submitting your statement of financial need is no guarantee that you will receive more financial aid. While students can be hopeful that they will receive an adjusted aid package, they should be prepared for their situation not changing. 

In this case, students can turn to options like scholarships , student loans , or choosing a more affordable college option. 

See also: What to do if financial aid is not enough?

Key Takeaways

  • A Statement of Financial Need can be beneficial for students who know they may not be able to afford college
  • Always try to be positive when writing your Statement of Financial Need
  • Structure your statement in an easy to read, concise way

Frequently asked questions about how to write a statement of financial need

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Judge fines Donald Trump more than $350 million, bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for three years

The judge who presided over a civil business fraud trial against Donald Trump on Friday ordered the former president, his sons, business associates and company to pay more than $350 million in damages and temporarily limited their ability to do business in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered the former president and the Trump Organization to pay over $354 million in damages , and barred Trump “from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for a period of three years,” including his namesake company.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office brought the case, said that with pre-judgment interest, the judgment totals over $450 million, an amount “which will continue to increase every single day” until the judgment is paid.

“Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud. Because no matter how big, rich, or powerful you think you are, no one is above the law,” James said in a statement, calling the ruling “a tremendous victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes that we all must play by the same rules — even former presidents.”

The ruling also bars Trump and his company from applying for any bank loans for three years.

In his first public remarks after the ruling, Trump said, “We’ll appeal and we’ll be successful.”

Speaking to reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, Trump bashed the ruling as “a fine of 350 million for a doing a perfect job.” He also repeated previous attacks by calling the judge “crooked” and the attorney general “corrupt.”

Trump did not take any questions from reporters after speaking for about six minutes.

The judge’s decision is a potential blow to both Trump’s finances and persona — having built his brand on being a successful businessman that he leveraged in his first run for president. Trump is currently running for the White House for a third time. This case is just one of many he is currently facing, including four separate pending criminal trials, the first of which is scheduled to begin on March 25.

Engoron also ordered the continued “appointment of an Independent Monitor” and the “the installation of an Independent Director of Compliance” for the company.

In posts on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump called the ruling “an illegal, unAmerican judgment against me, my family, and my tremendous business.”

“This ‘decision’ is a complete and total sham,” he wrote.

During the trial, Trump and executives at his company, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, attempted to blame exaggerated financial statements that were the heart of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ fraud case on the accountants who compiled them. Engoron disagreed.

“There is overwhelming evidence from both interested and non-interested witnesses, corroborated by documentary evidence, that the buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” he wrote.

In explaining the need for a monitor, the judge cited the lack of remorse by Trump and his executives after the fraud was discovered.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” Engoron wrote.

“Defendants’ refusal to admit error — indeed, to continue it, according to the Independent Monitor — constrains this Court to conclude that they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained,” he added.

The ruling also bars the Trump sons — who’ve been running the company since their father went to the White House — “from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for a period of two years.” Both were fined over $4 million, plus interest, for their roles in the scheme.

Donald Trump Jr. posted on the social media site X that “We’ve reached the point where your political beliefs combined with what venue your case is heard are the primary determinants of the outcome; not the facts of the case! It’s truly sad what’s happened to our country.”

In a statement, Eric Trump called the judge “a cruel man.”

“He knows that every single witness testified to that fact that I had absolutely NOTHING to do with this case (as INSANE as the case truly is),” Eric Trump said.

He also attacked the ruling as “political vengeance by a judge out to get my father.”

 Trump attorney Alina Habba called the verdict “a manifest injustice — plain and simple.”

“Given the grave stakes, we trust that the Appellate Division will overturn this egregious verdict and end this relentless persecution against my clients,” she said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Trump Organization called the ruling “a gross miscarriage of justice. The Trump Organization has never missed any loan payment or been in default on any loan.”

High legal costs

An appeal in the case would likely take years, but Trump could have to post a bond for the full amount if he does so.

Read more: Trump faces about $400 million in legal penalties. Can he afford it?

The judgment is the second this year against Trump after he was hit last month with an $83.3 million verdict in writer E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against him. Trump has said he plans to appeal that verdict as well, but would have to post a bond for that amount as well.

James had been seeking $370 million from Trump, his company and its top executives, alleging “repeated and persistent fraud ” that included falsifying business records and financial statements. James had argued those financial statements were at times exaggerated by as much as $2.2 billion.

James contended the defendants used the inflated financial statements to obtain bank loans and insurance policies at rates he otherwise wouldn’t have been entitled to and “reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.”

Trump had maintained his financial statements were conservative, and has called the AG’s allegations politically motivated and a “fraud on me.”

“This is a case that should have never been brought, and I think we should be entitled to damages,” Trump told reporters when he attended closing arguments in the case on Jan. 11.

Trump testimony knocked

The monthslong civil trial included testimony from Trump and his oldest children . The former president was combative in his day on the stand, blasting James as a “hack” and calling the judge “extremely hostile.”

Trump repeatedly complained about Engoron before and throughout the trial, and the judge slapped him with a partial gag order after he started blasting the judge’s law clerk as well. Trump’s complaints led to a flood of death threats against the clerk, as well as Engoron, court officials said, and Trump was fined $15,000 for twice violating the order.

Among the examples cited as fraud by the attorney general’s office during the trial was Trump valuing his triplex home in Trump Tower in New York City at three times its actual size and value, as well as including a brand value to increase the valuation of his golf courses on the financial statements, which explicitly said brand values were not included.

Another example pointed to by the attorney general clearly got under his skin — a dispute over the value of Mar-a-Lago, his social club and residence in Florida. Trump’s financial statements from 2011 to 2021 valued Mar-a-Lago at $426 million to $612 million, while the Palm Beach County assessor appraised the property’s market value to be $18 million to $27 million during the same time frame. Trump had also fraudulently puffed up the value of the property by saying it was a private residence, despite having signed an agreement that it could only be used as a social club to lower his tax burden.

Trump maintained during the trial the property was worth much, much more .

“The judge had it at $18 million, and it is worth, say, I say from 50 to 100 times more than that. So I don’t know how you got those numbers,” Trump testified, adding later that he thinks it’s actually worth “between a billion and a billion five.”

In his ruling Friday, Engoron said he didn’t find Trump to be a credible witness.

“Overall, Donald Trump rarely responded to the questions asked, and he frequently interjected long, irrelevant speeches on issues far beyond the scope of the trial. His refusal to answer the questions directly, or in some cases, at all, severely compromised his credibility,” the judge wrote.

Michael Cohen testimony ‘credible’

James’ investigation into the former president’s business began in 2019 as a result of congressional testimony from his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen , who told the House Oversight Committee that Trump would improperly expand and shrink values to fit whatever his business needs were.

Cohen testified during the trial about his role in the scheme, and said while Trump didn’t explicitly tell him and then-Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to inflate the numbers in the financial statement, he was like a “mob boss” who tells you what he wants without directly telling you.

Trump claimed Cohen’s testimony exonerated him while also painting him as an untrustworthy liar because he admitted having previously lied under oath.

In his ruling, Engoron called Cohen an “important witness” and said he found his testimony “credible.” “This factfinder does not believe that pleading guilty to perjury means that you can never tell the truth. Michael Cohen told the truth,” the judge wrote.

Former CFO ‘evasive’

Engoron was less forgiving about former Trump CFO Weisselberg, who previously pleaded guilty to carrying out tax fraud at the company.

Weisselberg’s “testimony in this trial was intentionally evasive, with large gaps of ‘I don’t remember.’”

“There is overwhelming evidence that Allen Weisselberg intentionally falsified hundreds of business records during his tenure” at the company, the judge wrote. “Weisselberg understood that his assignment from Donald Trump was to have his reported assets increase every year irrespective of their actual values. The examples of Weisselberg’s intent to falsify business records are too numerous to itemize,” he added.

The judge permanently barred Weisselberg “from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity operating in New York State,” and ordered him to pay the $1 million he’s already received from his $2 million separation agreement from the company as “ill-gotten gains.”

AG initially sought less

James filed her suit seeking $250 million in damages from Trump in 2022, and the judge appointed a monitor to oversee the company’s finances that November.

In a summary judgment  ruling the week before the trial started, Engoron found Trump and his executives had repeatedly engaged in fraud. The “documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business, satisfying [the attorney general’s] burden to establish liability as a matter of law against defendants,” the judge wrote, while denying Trump’s bid to dismiss the case.

Engoron summarized the Trump defense as “the documents do not say what they say; that there is no such thing as ‘objective’ value; and that, essentially, the Court should not believe its own eyes.”

The order, which Trump appealed, held that Trump’s business certificates in New York should be canceled, which could have wreaked havoc on Trump’s company and forced the sell-off of some assets.

Engoron backed off of that decision in his ruling Friday, saying the addition of the “two-tiered oversight” of the monitor and the compliance director makes that move “no longer necessary.”

Trump had complained about the summary judgment ruling while he was on the witness stand. “He said I was a fraud before he knew anything about me, nothing about me,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible thing you did.”

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Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.

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Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.

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Additional reporting by Joey Roulette, Chris Bing and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington Editing by Don Durfee, Nick Zieminski, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler

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Patricia Zengerle has reported from more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. An award-winning Washington-based national security and foreign policy reporter who also has worked as an editor, Patricia has appeared on NPR, C-Span and other programs, spoken at the National Press Club and attended the Hoover Institution Media Roundtable. She is a recipient of the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence.

Former U.S. President Trump attends a hearing on a criminal case linked to a hush money payment, in New York City

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The wife of Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, needs to keep her husband's voice alive, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko said on Saturday following the death of the prominent Kremlin critic.

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Republicans say Trump call for Russia to attack Nato allies was just fine, actually

Tom Cotton echoes fellow GOP senators, saying former president was ‘simply ringing the warning bell’

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A leading Republican senator said Donald Trump was “simply ringing the warning bell” when he caused global alarm by declaring he would encourage Russia to attack Nato allies who did not pay enough to maintain the alliance, as Trump’s party closed ranks behind its presumptive presidential nominee.

“Nato countries that don’t spend enough on defense, like Germany, are already encouraging Russian aggression and President Trump is simply ringing the warning bell,” Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a former soldier, told the New York Times .

“Strength, not weakness, deters aggression. Russia invaded Ukraine twice under Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but not under Donald Trump .”

Cotton was referring to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

As president between 2017 and 2021, Trump was widely held to have shown alarming favour, and arguably subservience , to Vladimir Putin.

Trump made the controversial remarks at a rally in South Carolina on Saturday.

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In remarks the Times said were not part of Trump’s planned speech but which did repeat a story he has often told, the former president said: “One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’

“I said, ‘You didn’t pay, you’re delinquent?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want. You’ve got to pay. You’ve got to pay your bills. And the money came flowing in.”

Amid fierce controversy over remarks the Biden White House called “appalling and unhinged”, another Republican hawk in the Senate, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told the Times : “Give me a break – I mean, it’s Trump.”

Graham, who has vacillated from warning that Trump will “ destroy ” the Republican party to full-throated support, added: “All I can say is while Trump was president nobody invaded anybody. I think the point here is to, in his way, to get people to pay.”

Donald Trump says he told Nato ally to pay more or Russia can ‘do whatever they want’ – video

Last year, Marco Rubio co-sponsored a law preventing presidents unilaterally withdrawing from Nato. On Sunday the Florida senator, whom Trump ridiculed and defeated in the 2016 primary, also dismissed Trump’s remarks about Russia.

“Donald Trump is not a member of the Council on Foreign Relations,” Rubio told CNN , referring to a Washington thinktank. “He doesn’t talk like a traditional politician, and we’ve already been through this. You would think people would’ve figured it out by now.”

Among other Senate Republicans there was some rather muted pushback . Thom Tillis of North Carolina reportedly blamed Trump’s aides for failing to explain to him how Nato works, while Rand Paul of Kentucky was quoted by Politico as saying Trump’s remarks represented “a stupid thing to say”.

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Trump’s last rival for the presidential nomination, which he is all but certain to secure, is Nikki Haley, who served as United Nations ambassador under Trump. Asked about his remarks, Haley told CBS : “Nato has been a success story for the last 75 years. But what bothers me about this is, don’t take the side of a thug [Vladimir Putin], who kills his opponents. Don’t take the side of someone who has gone in and invaded a country [Ukraine] and half a million people have died or been wounded because of Putin.

“Now, we do want Nato allies to pull their weight. But there are ways you can do that without sitting there and telling Russia, have your way with these countries. That’s not what we want.”

A former candidate for the nomination, the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, told NBC the Nato remark was “absolutely inappropriate” and “consistent with his love for dictators”.

Among former Trump aides, John Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser, told MSNBC : “When he says he wants to get out of Nato, I think it’s a very real threat, and it will have dramatically negative implications for the United States, not just in the North Atlantic but worldwide.”

HR McMaster, Bolton’s predecessor, who was a serving army general when Trump picked him, said Trump’s Nato comment was “irresponsible”.

Another former general and former Trump adviser, Keith Kellogg, told the Times he thought Trump was “on to something” with his remarks, which Kellogg said were meant to prompt member nations to bolster their own defences.

“I don’t think it’s encouragement at all,” Kellogg said of Trump’s apparent message to Russia. “We know what he means when he says it.”

But Liz Cheney, the former Republican Wyoming congresswoman who became a Trump opponent after the January 6 attack on Congress, called Nato “the most successful military alliance in history … essential to deterring war and defending American security”. She added: “No sane American president would encourage Putin to attack our Nato allies. No honorable American leaders would excuse or endorse this.”

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  28. What records are exempted from FERPA?

    Records which are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the records, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the records.