Funding Your Needfinding Work
During the process of designing this framework we learned that funders of Internet Freedom related work also see value in understanding the needs of users. Most developers and organizations we spoke with did not yet have the resources to support this type of work, and this section is intended to help address that gap. Here are a few guidelines for how to incorporate this approach into your next proposal, along with some things to consider when doing so.
Prior to proposing any Needfinding work as part of your Internet Freedom related project, it is important to establish the research questions and goals you will be addressing and outline a research plan. This will be the basis for your work and will be necessary in order to accurately estimate the time and expense required to conduct the Needfinding.
Based on your research plan, identify the different framework elements that will be needed to execute it. You can treat each element of the framework as a distinct item, estimate the costs for that item, and multiply the cost by the number of times you intend to conduct it. For example, you can estimate the time required to conduct an interview and multiply that by the number of interviews you intend to conduct. Please be mindful of lower costs that come with repeating work. For example, it may take you a day to come up with and review an interview guide, but that only needs to be done once for a series of interviews.
Regarding scope, we strongly suggest a light engagement if this is your first time working with this framework. Needfinding can be challenging work and experience in conducting it is important to accurately estimate time and expense. Pushing too far too fast can easily set you up for more work than you intended, which can easily lead to inaccurate results.
Carefully plan out expenses associated with your Needfinding work and resist the urge to reduce overall cost by under-estimating expenses. For example, if you are going to events, how many people on your team will go? How much does it cost to stay near the event? Is there an entry fee to the event? What are the miscellaneous expenses involved such as food and permits or visas? If you are going to a location where you don’t speak the local language, how much will it cost to hire a translator? Who will be your on-the-ground coordinator, and how much might they cost? Walk yourself through your research plan and consider each expense along the way.
Think about what your funder will look for as a result of this work. These desired results will be informative in your design process and may change how you build your tool or design a training program. How will you express these things to the entity that funded this work? Will a simple summary suffice or will the funder be looking for a more comprehensive and shareable report or new tool prototype? This should be at the beginning of any section in your proposal dealing with Needfinding.
Finally, before inserting this plan into your proposal, be clear in justifying the importance of it to your process. Why do you need to implement this Needfinding process? What value will it provide? Why it is well suited to provide that value? This approach may not be familiar to the potential funder you are working with, and the responsibility is on you to convey its value.