I recently reviewed federal grant proposals to deal with local food deserts–areas without access to high quality fresh food. Typical solutions are to entice a grocery store to locate there or establish community gardens.
One applicant organization took a different approach. It desired to establish a salsa company that would pay good wages, so that employees could purchase dependable cars to drive to grocery stores that are already in place outside the boundaries of the neighborhood.
While this was innovative and “out of the box” thinking, the reviewers did not think it was a realistic solution to the food desert problem for the entire neighborhood. We therefore gave the proposal low scores for that portion of the grant. There was a need, and there was a solution, but they didn’t actually fit together well.
This example highlights the importance of CLEARLY linking the need you can document with the solution you will propose later in your proposal.
Foreshadowing the solution within the need statement forces the writer to be clear and helps the reader follow along. Any time you can help the reader connect the dots, you are increasing the odds of being funded.
The lesson is that the solution and the need for assistance are highly intertwined. The need should become smaller if the solution is as effective as anticipated. Funders want to see a significant amount of change, to justify the amount of money given to an organization.
Be sure to foreshadow the solution to your need so the reader is not surprised at what you propose. Surprise breeds doubt, and doubt leads to lower scores.