The Need to Define Need: Relevancy


Let’s look at relevancy, the third element of need definition.

Relevant needs are, first and foremost, needs that impact the greatest number in society. Beyond this, however, every single person who reads your case statement will be asking, “How does this need impact me?’ Each one will also want to know, “Why should I care?”

There will be a variety of ways and opportunities taught in these blogs about how to discover the way each donor or donor prospect defines relevancy, but in your need definition, it is imperative for you to spell out as many ways as possible that a need should be relevant.

Doing this will be different for every project. When a hospital needs to expand, the need definition of a case statement has to remind the reader (directly or indirectly) about what the consequences are when sick or injured people have to be turned away from the hospital because there are no beds or because the emergency room is too small. A private school, wanting to create a larger endowment, has to connect the dots about need to harder-to-define relevancies. Perhaps pride or loyalty or legacy-building are the key forms of relevancy for this audience.

What I tell you next is extremely important.

In the end, every single person you meet will connect the dots to the needs you present in his or her own unique way, based on what is important TO THAT INDIVIDUAL.

Never forget this.

But you are still expected to demonstrate in your need statement that you understand the broader themes of relevancy for the largest number of people. In Maggie Josiah’s project at African Hospitality Institute, relevancy was tied to the teachings of Jesus Christ, plus the almost universally accepted wisdom that says, “It is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish.”

Now, what is the relevancy of your need?