Solving Real Problems: Making Solutions Thoughtful and Innovative


Elsewhere, I identified the elements of a solution every case statement must include—the need, solution, presentation of measurable benefits, and call to action. About the second, I said:

A proposed solution to meet a real and urgent need must be:

·         thoughtful

·         innovative

·         compelling.

Let’s see what the first two parts of the solution mean. Remember that:

Successful fundraising has a lot to do with who wants WHAT and how badly he or she wants it.

No project can succeed that is not deeply thoughtful and/or innovative. Once again, I draw your attention to the African Hospitality Institute project. It was both deeply thoughtful and innovative. This is the WHAT in the “who wants what” formula.

Of course, the question arises about who determines if a project is thoughtful and innovative. And this, dear readers, is one of the most important questions in the life of a community organizer.

Initially, the charitable donors (I should call them “potential charitable donors”) get to determine if the WHAT of a project is thoughtful and innovative. Without their belief that the project is a brilliant solution to a real and urgent problem or need and the belief that it will succeed, they won’t make initial investments to get the project launched.

The best way to test the potential reaction to the WHAT or to the solution is to ask potential donors to review the project BEFORE it is launched.

When an organization or an individual has a thoughtful, innovative solution to a real problem or need, then that idea should be able to stand having a light shown on it and a full inspection made of it.

Sometimes this is problematic because of a little ego problem called “pride of authorship.” Some people and organizations don’t want others to weigh in on their ideas. That is always tragic.

There is probably no idea that can’t be improved on. But even when an idea is perfect, inviting others to weigh in on it is healthy. First, discussing a good or great idea with others allows that idea to be looked at from many different perspectives. Sometimes these different perspectives make just that little difference that leads to an improvement.

Second, discussing even the most brilliant idea with other people allows them to feel they are helping shape it, and this is the first step toward getting those people involved in the process of making your idea become reality.

Yet, this earliest review is just step one of a much longer process. I’ll address this entire process in later blogs, but for now it’s OK that I have simply put this out there for you to think about. So, do that! Think about this. Let it bounce around inside your head. We’ll return to this idea later.

I know you’ve heard of projects that get launched with a big splash and no testing of the idea with potential donors. Most of these projects don’t have a very long life, however, and you do NOT hear about that. When a project gets a quick launch and makes a big splash but then flares out and starts to die, no one goes to the press with that story. No sir! That story is buried and kept very quiet. It’s embarrassing!

I’m assuming you are reading these blogs because you want to know how to get a project launched financially and keep it going over a long period. I’m also assuming you are not seeking hand-outs, but large investments in a project that will prove sustainable. Most important, I’m assuming you want your solution to be implemented until a real difference has been made and the original need you identified is measurably altered, if not fully addressed.

And saying this, brings us to the next key element in your case statement presentation—RESULTS. Let’s look at that element next.