Usually one of the first criteria to be addressed by all government Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) is the Need Section.  This is your first opportunity to dazzle the reviewers with your brilliance.  However, this is no place for your “poor pitiful Pearl” stories.  When you are writing for the government they are immune to your hardships as they have hundreds of applications with stories just as needy as yours.  This is where you come in fast with all guns blazing.  Your arsenal should include current data and statistics from reliable sources.  The abstract and the first page (your first shots) should have reviewers saying, “Wow, they really need this money!” and then they will award points for the Need Section and keep reading to find out what creative program you have developed to meet those needs. And that is what it is all about!

Need information should be specific to your target area and relevant to the funding announcement.  For example, do not create a need for educating cats if you are writing a program to train dogs and the FOA is only funding professional development for snake charmers.  Sound ridiculous? Not so much, as a reviewer, I see a lot of recycled grants that have been poorly adapted to a new funding notice.  Sometimes they even forget to take out the name of the old grant.  

Keep in mind that the Need Section lays down the foundation for the entire proposal. You can not develop a strong program without a cause. Your program will be developed around the needs you demonstrate. The Need Section has to be strong and supported with validated sources.  For example, if you are a school trying to get funding for academic improvements, you need to establish relevant need for those improvements.  Provide data such as the latest test scores highlighting weak areas; the latest state report showing low performance; and/or a low graduation or high drop-out rate.  These are solid facts specific to your area.  Providing only state or national need statistics tends to irritate the peer reviewer — and believe me, some of those tired people are already a bit testy, so do not rock the boat!

Once you have your needs established, you will link the writing of objectives directly to established needs.  However, objectives are another topic.