Setting The Scene

When you start to write your funding application it is important to first set the scene. All funding applications should contain a background statement which:

  • Introduces the need and emphasises its detrimental impact
  • Describes how your proposal will address the need and provide sustainable benefits
  • Aligns your proposal's aims and objectives with the funder's priorities.

A good background statement convinces the reader that you know:

  1. What is going on in your local area (i.e., you understand the needs and issues)
  2. How to address it
  3. What the funder wants. 

Keep your background statement brief (unless otherwise indicated). You are demonstrating your knowledge; not writing a review of the area. In most instances, 2 to 8 pages should be sufficient.

Describing the Need

Your description of need does not have to be long and involved. Short, concise information captures the reader's attention.

Clearly explain the:

  • Public health issue affecting your community or other need which exists (e.g., professional development)
  • Gap between what exists now and what could or should be
  • Benefits to result from your proposal. 

Use the evidence collected in Identifying Needs. Present both objective information and personal stories to inform the funder about your community's situation. If your topic is complex, consider including an informative article or background reading in your appendices.

Answer the following questions: 

  • What is the need?
  • Why should it be addressed now? 
  • What will happen if the need is not addressed now?
  • Who did you talk to or what research did you do to find out about the problem?
  • What other strategies are in place to address the need?
  • What will be the community benefit if your proposal is funded?

Review your need statement to be sure that it does not contain or present a solution. Your solution will come later. Start with the problem, not the solution.

How Will Your Proposal Address the Need?

Your proposal should be appropriate to the size of the problem being addressed.

Dedicate some content in the background section of your application to reiterating what the funding body is asking for. Detail how your assessment of the perceived priorities of the funding body align with the needs of the community, and your organisation's philosophy, mission, and direction.

Answer the "So What" question by detailing the significance of the application and explain why it is important to address the need and identify the scope of the proposal.

If the funding guidelines outline the funder's objectives, make sure you reiterate or refer specifically to them in your funding application. 

TIPS: Setting the Scene

Writing A Background

  • Introduce the need. Don't assume that everyone knows what is needed in your community.
  • Explain why the problem is urgent and convince the funder your organisation knows how to address it.
  • Use images or diagrams to emphasise important points or connections and briefly refer to it in the text.
  • Define your proposal's aims and objectives and demonstrate how they match the funder's priorities. 
  • Emphasise the long-lasting benefits your proposal will have on the community. This is what matters to a funding body.

Describing the Need

  • Be clear and concise. Present your evidence succinctly.
  • Use quantitative and qualitative information to support your claim. Relying solely on statistics to explain your problem and justify your proposal can appear one dimensional.
  • Add stories or case studies to illustrate an issue. Bring in the human aspect wherever possible to add a personal touch to your application.
  • Be accurate. Don't overstate the problem. Simply state the facts and let the funding organisation come to their own conclusions. Make sure your evidence is relevant, clear and concise.
  • Attribute your evidence. Cite your sources so funders know where your evidence has come from. Presenting evidence without attributing it to a source diminishes its value. Include reputable and authoritative sources of information. 
  • Make sure you follow the funder's rules about including references. If the format is not specified, use numerical superscripts to save space.

Addressing the Need

  • Use comparative statistics from a community that did something similar to your proposal to highlight potential beneficial outcomes. 

References & Resources


Complete the activities below by en​tering text into the fields provided and/or completing the attached documents. If you download and complete an attached document, you will have to save this to your personal file.

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Activity 8.3.1 Write Your Background Statement

Good background statements convince the funding body:
1. There is an urgent need which should be addressed
2. You know how to address the problem
3. The community will benefit from your proposal
4. The benefits to the community align with the funding body’s priorities.

Section_8.3_Activities.pdf (135 KB)

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