WVA Virtual Funding Workbook - Section One

WVA Virtual Funding Workbook - Section One

This section is thinking about who you help and how you help them.  It’s about answering honestly the question ‘Does what we’re doing meet needs of and/or solve the problems of the people we support?’.

Understanding Local Need

If we didn’t have people to work with, we wouldn’t need to exist, so everything we do is about the people we work with and what they need to lead more fulfilled lives.  Think about who you work with (either at the moment or who you might want to work with if it’s a new project) and think about what is going on with them.

It can be argued that it’s very easy to make big broad assumptions about a group of people.  You would need to be able to back up any claims you are going to make. 

So, if we assume that…

  • All older people are socially isolated
  • All young people are troublemakers
  • All people that live in a certain area can’t / won’t pay for anything

…we are making big statements that we are only guessing at.  In order to create an effective service and work with people and make a positive change in their lives, we need to look at the root cause of issues as well as the ones on the surface. Some things that exist you will have to accept that you won’t be able to solve but you can take steps towards it.

As an example, Foodbank parcels.  

The Foodbank provides 3 days worth of food to a person / family in crisis.  The immediate problem is the lack of food the household has, the root cause could be a range of issues from budgeting, debt, employment issues or family breakdown.  When a client comes to access the service, the root cause is explored and this works towards improving the life chances of the household.   The household is directed towards a range of services that can provide them with support to help work towards reducing their issues.

There are also questions about sustainability both of the project and the household’s reliance on the service.  The household must be seen to be participating in the services to support the root cause of the issue in order to continue to receive the parcels.  This is about reducing client dependency and the possibility of issues never being solved.  The project itself would be unsustainable if it were to be simply providing free food for many households on a regular basis.

How do I find out what issues our service users have?

For this, you will have to do some research and consultation.  In order to know that your project is fundable and needed, you will need to prove it.  There are a few ways of doing this to get started:

  • JSNA (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment) – this is a range of documents that look at the factors affecting health and wellbeing in Warrington.  This can be found via the Warrington Borough Council website.
  • Office for National Statistics can give you a national benchmark for comparison or to help you identify trends.
  • Partnering with organisations – working with or gathering information from organisations about what local people are asking for.  This could be a range of sources from health, advice, housing and lifestyles. They will be able to inform you on the challenges that people present to them.
  • Surveys / consultation, simply asking people where their challenges are or what services they need.*

A thing to think about is the difference between WANT and NEED, there will be a lot of things that you can offer that people will want (a reduced price or free services, little or no screening / monitoring, no limits on participation etc.) but perhaps don’t actually need.  There aren’t many of us that wouldn’t turn down a free meal or a free childcare place! Perhaps the need is the upskilling of people and the impetus to change their behaviours,


You may wish to consider placing a financial value on services which doesn’t only make your project more sustainable it also arguably means people respect it more as they have paid for it.  You have to cover costs and not just by the volunteers paying for stuff.  You should only ever charge what the poorest can afford, always consider how much you can charge for each service (especially if your services use a lot of resources).

Another way to consider your service or your project is as a hook or a tool.  As an example, a craft club you deliver is the hook that brings people in, the actual work you are doing is facilitating conversation, signposting, networking and giving people the opportunity to practice making choices in a supported environment.  So, if you identify that there is an issue or challenge, consider what hook might be the way of getting people to come and participate in your organisation to help them work on that issue.

You can always check out our resource ‘Activity Adjectives’ which is a (non-exhaustive) list of ways to describe the work / activities you are doing.  Try and take a few steps back and look at what you are really doing and who you are as an organisation.  Most people that do this exercise don’t realise the vast amount of output that they are achieved from one activity.  It is this wider impact and activity that will make funders take notice and help you to stand out from other bids.  It doesn’t have to be about promising the earth either, it’s about doing things well,  regardless of how small.  Doing fewer things properly is better than many things terribly.

The Gateway, 89 Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1SR Tel: 01925 246880
Registered in England & Wales as a Registered Charity 1129343
and as Company Limited by Guarantee No:6805818

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