Who, what, how much? – Determining the extent of the social challenge and the needs at place

In the first step, you’ll develop an overview of the extent of the social problem.





Demographic data and information on infrastructure will help you develop an accurate picture of the future project location.

Determine how many people are in fact affected by the problem. To this end, information can primarily be found in official statistics.

But be careful: Aggregated information is often only partially helpful. For example, aggregated data from a public statistics authority rarely allows conclusions to be drawn about individual city neighborhoods.

Consult with other actors in the sector. Projects that have been working longer in the subject area will have valuable information about the local situation and the target group’s needs (see next section).

In parallel, you can try to integrate your target groups directly into the research process. For example, you could use the citizens’ platforms that are available in metropolitan areas. In such forums, citizens discuss their own civic activity, interacting across religious and social boundaries.

  • How YEA defines the extent of the social problem

    YEA monitors youth unemployment rates in Germany and in regional vocational-training markets. In order to gain a better understanding of local contexts, YEA asks schools, local job centers and neighborhood youth centers to submit assessments.

    The analysis shows that the youth unemployment rate in the urban area being targeted is above average, and that the number of available vocational-training slots is, by contrast, comparatively low. Participants say this leads to frustration and a sense of exclusion of opportunity among the youth.

Discussions with target groups offer the advantage of allowing you to design your offerings at an early point so that they fit the local context and potential beneficiaries’ needs. This effort is worthwhile because offerings that take the wishes of the target group into account will achieve considerably greater social impact than those based purely on academic expertise.

  • What others do | Existing offerings and gaps

    In many cases, there will be organizations already active in your subject area. It’s a good idea to study their approaches and offerings. Drafting a detailed assessment of these organizations is less relevant than identifying existing gaps or developing complementary offerings.


Draw data and background information from the following sources:

  • Official reports on social statistics (UK) provide comparative data in the areas of social security, poverty and social exclusion.
  • Social atlases include data published by large cities on social developments in individual municipal districts.
  • Public statistics authorities (UK) provide data on economic, labor-market and social issues.

In the international context, various organizations offer databases with useful information:

Additional effective research sources accessible at a reasonable cost include:

  • The views of journals and various types of publications.
  • Requests for information from umbrella organizations, welfare associations or other institutions that are either advocates or are themselves target groups.
  • Requests for information from specialized (local) agencies that address the issue being studied.
  • Discussions with other foundations active in the subject area.
  • Interviews with those affected by the issue, and those involved in addressing it.
  • Conversations with experts and academics.
  • Discussions with representatives of funding institutions.
  • Visits to conferences or other related events.

More costly alternatives include:

  • Conducting your own surveys among target groups or stakeholders.
  • Round tables with subject-area experts.
  • Carrying out BenchmarkA reference or standard against which outputs or results can be assessed. Examples of benchmarks may include results achieved in the recent past by other comparable organizations, or simply a level of output that might be realistically anticipated under the given circumstances. benchmark analyses, evaluations, etc.