Define the need for the program

The need statement should describe the “problem” that your program exists to address – including root causes and barriers to resolution – reflecting the opportunity to create change.

You can start broadly, but there may be several problems that are interrelated. Focus on the specific need or problem that leads to negative outcomes, and then clarify your opportunity to affect change.

Describe the underlying reasons for your work: Why do you do what you do?

As much as possible, quantify the need/problem, referencing available research and literature.
Photo credit: Youth Speaks

Guiding Questions

Identify the need

  • What is the scope, nature and extent (within your service area) of the problem to be solved?
  • What are the root causes and barriers to resolution?
  • How does the extent of the need compare to the extent in larger geographic areas (county, state, national)?
Define your opportunity
  • What is your program’s piece of the puzzle – the problem or part of the problem to be solved?
  • How is your organization uniquely prepared or positioned to solve this problem?
  • What does the literature say about factors that improve or aggravate the problem?


Environmental stewardship need:

  • California is one of the most biodiverse states in the country, and the Bay Area includes many important at-risk ecosystems. To create a generation that is motivated to solve or mitigate significant issues, it is essential to teach environmental stewardship and advocacy to young people.

Click on the image below to access
the Define the Need for the Program worksheet