Step 5. What is the problem and what are the solutions?
This is the difficult bit. Can you define the problems or issues that relate to your areas of interest and find out what needs to happen to make a difference?
Don’t worry if you can’t do this in the next five minutes! This might take you a few weeks or a few years to develop. But it’s a great place to begin to sort out where to direct funding to best address the issues you are concerned about.
Getting clarity about what the issue is, or what the issues in a particular region are, and what the broad solutions might be is the beginning. The next step – flushing out the possible solutions to these issues – does not mean that you have to fund them all in their entirety. They might seem too big to tackle. The next steps will help you focus on what you might fund.
So how do you go about this? At this point, you could find others who share your particular environmental interests. You could form a ‘giving circle’ and work together on understanding the issues and their solutions. Or you might like to work on your own. Whichever way you choose, here are some questions to get you started. Don’t be concerned if you can’t answer them all.
They are pointers to where you might find out more:
- Has anyone else funded in this area? What can you learn from them? Members can be an excellent source of information here.
- Which community groups are working on these issues? What are they doing to address them? What do they think needs to happen?
- Who are the experts in this area? You could seek out academic experts, community leaders and policy makers. What do they say? You could attend conferences and meetings on the problem or issue you’ve chosen – these are often an excellent source of information and showcase what experts are currently saying.
- What can you read to help you? Again, ask the experts or consult publications or online content that has been written for a general audience. You could review academic literature, journal and newspaper articles, as well as articles written by non-government organisations.
- What is government doing? Often government agencies are already on the right track but need some help or smart thinking to lead them in a slightly different direction. Sometimes they might know where the funding gaps are.
- What steps are you going to take to understand the issue (or set of regional issues) in which you are interested and what the solutions are?
- Do you need a giving circle?
- Who else has funded in the area?
- Which community groups working on this issue or region could you talk to?
- Who are the experts you might talk to?
- What can you read?
- What do you know about what government is funding in this area?
- Now, can you write in a few simple sentences the issue or issues you are interested in and what needs to be done to address them – from a very broad perspective?
Record your answer in the worksheet (pdf)