There are many ways you can identify need, for example by:
- getting together with people involved in your project
- holding consultation events
- using questionnaires
- drawing on surveys by others such as local authorities or national charities.
Your potential beneficiaries and others may have different views so think carefully about the best ways of consulting different groups. If you are an existing project, don’t rely on past consultations or existing users: do some fresh research and/or consultation.
Get together with other people involved with your project.
Write down the issue that you have identified, and get everyone to come up with possible answers to the following questions:
- What is the problem?
- What is the evidence for it?
- What is causing it?
- What is the need?
When you are asking what is causing the problem, try breaking it down by asking the question why, answering it, and then asking why again. This can help you ensure you have a full understanding of the need for your project.
You can then prioritise
those issues, their causes
and the needs
that you will address with your project. Then think about any other needs that you do not plan to address. Why are they not as relevant? Perhaps someone else is dealing with them, and your project will complement what they are doing. Or maybe you need to rethink your assumptions about the need and consider adjusting your project scope to target need more effectively. This should help you and others to get a clearer idea about the purpose of your project and what it will and will not do.
What is the problem?
Some groups in the community are not using local services and there is little community engagement
What is the evidence?
A consultation exercise was conducted in the village and surrounding area and research was conducted on similar facilities in neighbouring areas. Information on patterns of usage revealed some groups were under-represented.
Why - what is causing it?
Reason 1: People don't like going to the village hall
Why? Access is poor for many disabled/elderly people; it's cold and poorly lit; carpark is dark and potholed
Reason 2: Some people would like to be more engaged in local affairs but feel alienated
Why? There are no activities that interest them
Why? There has been little or no consultation about what activities are on offer
What is the need?
People decided that the priority was meeting the community's need for a flexible, accessible and safe place for meetings and activities. They also identified other needs that informed the ultimate design and scope of the project, to include more effective community consultation about what happens in the hall and how it is run.
Find out if any other projects or services are addressing similar needs or working with the same beneficiaries in your area. We and other funders will want to know how your project will fill gaps or complement existing projects. Other projects may also help you to find evidence about need and appropriate responses.
It may be helpful to classify the needs of your target group into categories. For example, the needs of drug users may be classified as: