Crafting a compelling problem statement for social impact

Understanding the true problem your audience is experiencing is critical to developing a solution that will genuinely help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals. A good problem statement is compelling and will inspire so many ideas for you and your team! After doing a good discovery you can focus on the true problem.

A good problem statement is written from the perspective of your audience. It synthesizes findings from your discovery and is likely pretty different from your initial understanding. It provides a clear and concise statement of the challenge your audience is facing. It also includes their emotional experience and feels authentic to your audience. Checking that a problem statement rings true is as easy as sharing it with some of your audience members and seeing what they think!

One thing it doesn’t include is a solution! Embedding solutions into the problem statement will limit your team’s ability to ideate on the problem. This is often difficult and takes real discipline since our instinct is to solve problems. But holding yourself back at this state will truly pay off in the ideation phase of your project.

Below are a couple sample problem statements that share the problem from the perspective of the beneficiary of the program.

Sample problem statement for a food security program

I am struggling to provide enough food for myself and my family. It is hard to make money and get what we need because our community has been hit so hard by COVID. The help we need either isn’t available or is too hard to access. I feel frightened and ashamed that I am failing everyone who depends on me.

Sample problem statement for a workplace diversity and inclusion program

I feel overlooked and frustrated working here. I have a valuable perspective but I
rarely get an opportunity to share it. In meetings the same people get the floor and
talk over me. I’m missing out.

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