I was recently criticised by a participant during an exercise where I asked people to look at some funders to identify potential projects that the organisation could run. He felt you should always start with the need.
However the group was very poor coming up with projects or identifying need and this was my way of trying to get them thinking what projects they could run; how existing services could be developed or expanded to meet new audience or provide a new service to the existing service users.
What I was going was really grant chasing; seeing a grant opportunity and building a new project around it simply to secure more funds to keep the organisation going.
Whilst this has its dangers especially where projects are taking the group further and further from its true objectives, grant chasing does have some positive points.
We should identify a need, design a solution and obtain funding to provide the resources. However obtaining funding is getting harder (no excuse for not looking for it though, or writing better more persuasive applications) and finding funders whose criteria matches the project is getting hard. Identifying need can also be time consuming and almost too much need can be found.
A (new) source of funding creates a ready made need; it will focus attention on one issue and how it can be solved, it will make groups look at their community, perhaps in a different light, to show that the need exists.
How many of the large lottery programme funded projects would ever have come about if the lottery had not said ‘this is a need we have identified how can you meet it’