7 Ways to Show Funders the Crying Need for your Advocacy Service (Part 2)

Sad doggy asking for advocacy funding

“If you don’t fund my advocacy project then I’m going to cry” said Rover

Hey, it’s good to see you again. Welcome to Part 2 of a two part series on how to coolly and clearly convince funders of the crying need for your advocacy service. The series takes you through the different types of evidence you need and shows you how to use them to make your bid wail desperately for funding. Without being a drama queen.

In Part 1 we learnt how to hang onto the reigns of our good idea until we’ve got our evidence clear, use facts and figures to build funder trust and use quotes to bring your facts to life. Read on to learn four more ways.

4. Use Compelling Case Studies

Case studies of your achievements can often feel like an optional extra because of the amount of words they can take up. I’d argue that you should always include one though. You may have to sacrifice space for them but used well they can tell funders a lot more than the same amount of general words can.

The beauty of case studies is that they can show both the need and why your approach will be successful. A good case study should communicate a strong sense of the need. A really good case study should:

  • show the issues behind the problem
  • identify the specific elements needed to overcome it
  • show how your approach includes those elements
  • show the benefits of your approach

Again you’ll want to collect case studies as you go along in your work. Bid writers tend to have different views on whether it’s OK to change details of case studies or create composites from more than one. For me I think it’s OK to change superficial details like demographics so long as the core elements of the case study remain the same.

5. Talk About What You Know But Can’t Prove

It’s always good to have hard evidence to back up the need for your service. The problem is that sometimes you may be short of quantifiable data, even though you see the need every day. What do you do when this happens?

The good news is that funders usually want to hear about the knowledge borne of your experience. They recognise that as the people at the coalface, you are likely to know better than anyone what the problem is. That doesn’t mean that just stating what you’ve seen is enough to convince them though. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Be clear about what you’ve seen and approximately how often
  • If you have no measurable data to back it up then say that it’s based on regular experience and observation
  • If your data is tentative then say so
  • Be open about any assumptions you’ve made

For example: “Most weeks our disability advocate at Briars House meets clients who refuse to take part in residents meetings. When we’ve asked them why this is their responses always involve some aspect of unhappiness with the way the meetings are run. We think part of the issue is that the unit fails to provide ways for residents to influence and lead the agenda as there is no suggestion box or meeting noticeboard.”

6. Show What Will Happen if the Need is Not Met

This is a powerful way to round off your argument. It’s about painting a vivid picture of the knock-on consequences if the need you’re trying to identify continues to be unmet.

What will happen if the problem doesn’t get tackled? How will it grow, change or spread in a way that has more consequences than those you’ve so far described? Briefly show, in clear, rational terms what will happen.

Not only will this give your funder another insight into the problem but knowing that you’ve looked at it from yet another angle will increase their trust and confidence in your assessment. Bingo, it’s tear time.

7. Keep Issues and Problems Separate

The difference between an issue and a problem is not always obvious. It can even be slightly complex. But unless you get the differences clear then they can end up getting mixed up. If this happens then your funder won’t be clear either and your crying need will become more like an uncertain wiffle.

So, what’s what then? Well, if we look at a problem as the need that you want to tackle and solve then the issue is anything that is stopping that need from being met. It’s the reasons why the problem is unsolved. It’s the barriers that are stopping the need from being met by other services.

For example:

Problem – parents with learning disabilities repeatedly having children taken into care

Issue – parents are discriminated against by the system, not heard in court proceedings and in social work assessments, and get a lack of support to become better parents

The beauty of keeping issues and problems separate is that each issue always carries a kernel of the solution too. This gives you a chance to create a strong link between the need and issues you’ve uncovered and the logic of your approach (solution).

Following on from the above example this would then lead to:

Approach – a project that helps parents with learning disabilities to more fully participate in assessment proceedings, speaks up for their right to be treated fairly, and helps them find better parenting support.

Is Your Need Crying Yet?

If you use all seven of these techniques you’ll create a powerful web of reasons for why your problem should be funded. By clearly identifying the issues behind the need you’ll have also given yourself the perfect set up for showing funders your logical approach to solving the problem. They will be holding back their tears and eager to get on and read about what your advocacy service and approach has to offer.