How to Use Data to Tell Your Story

Writing an Effective Demographic Statement for a Grant: How to Use Data to Tell Your Story


When I served as a reviewer on a federal grant panel, the vast majority of the applications I read were from communities I knew nothing about. The demographic statement was the opportunity for me to get to know the unique challenges and assets that the applicant community had and why receiving funding would enable them to address a community challenge. Think of the demographic statement as a postcard that provides reviewers with an overview of your community and lays the foundation for why the grant you are applying for would be of use to the organization/community. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when crafting your demographic statement:


  1. Keep your statement clear and concise. Just like a good postcard, it’s a snapshot of the community. Pay attention to your use of adjectives and making sure that whatever language you use that you have data to back up your statement.
  2. Use data from your field. Be sure to use data from colleague organizations/national advocacy group and cite current research in your issue area. If your organization has conducted surveys or commissioned studies, cite this data where appropriate and if space allows, include it as an attachment.
  3. Demonstrate historical progress/changes. Provide a context for how the issue you address has changed over the past 10 years. Explain any increase or decrease in service number and explain why. Compare, using data, yourself to other organization to show your need as well as your proven track record to address your issue area.
  4. Keep it current. Try to find data, surveys, or reports that are less than five years old. It’s okay to cite data that shows a longitudinal change in an issue but try and keep all citation dates within a five-year range of your grant application.
  5. If space allows, demonstrate your organization’s commitment to evaluation by outlining how you collect, track, analyze collected information and how you use this information to inform organizational planning.


Here are four helpful sites to help find pertinent data on your community:


Data can help tell your community’s/organization’s story. It provides the historical context, the compelling challenges and the opportunity for change. Using this information to frame your grant provides a solid foundation on which the rest of the grant sits and demonstrates that your organization stays current on changes within your field.

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