Application Question 4 - How Do You Know There is a Need For Your Project?

Funders look for clear evidence of need for projects they intend to fund. Notice the change of question from wanting to know about the organisation to wanting to know about the project. You should seek to make a clear distinction between the two in your applications. 

Usually the ‘need' experienced by a community, whether geographical or issue-based, is the main reason behind wanting to do the project. ‘Need' covers things such as unemployment levels, lack of educational achievement, levels of illness, or high levels of teenagers on probation, etc.

In order to demonstrate the extent of the ‘need', it is often useful to cite statistics from a recognised source e.g. "Sixty percent of all young men between the ages of 20 and 25 have been unemployed for over two years".

Relying solely on statistics will not portray the complete picture and current context of your project. Try to bring in a ‘human' aspect, attempt to convey to the funder what life is like for one of your group's users. Short quotes from clients such as "My reliance on prescription medication causes more problems than it solves" can get your message and the need for your work across quite quickly and acutely. Perhaps even a case study would add to the understanding of the needs you are tackling.

Do some homework. Think about any research you have done into the issue. Maybe you have carried out surveys, sent out questionnaires or held public meetings. Perhaps you are using research carried out by other groups or agencies such as the local Health and Social Services Trust. Always let the funder know that you have done your homework!

From the needs that are identified, you can begin to develop desired ‘outcomes' or, where you want to be when the project is successful. More and more funders are moving to an outcome model of funding, where they will fund organisations to achieve outcomes, rather than merely succeeding on delivering outputs such as "number of people attending the course". The outcome will be expressed in more emotive terms such as "people are empowered to make decisions regarding their own welfare".