Needs Assessment Strategies

for Community Groups and Organizations

Accurately assessing the situation in your community group or organization is important when making decisions allocating public or private resources. There are several tools available for determining and measuring community needs. Needs assessment can demonstrate and document a known community need and has the added benefit of involving the public in problem solving and goal setting.
Important questions when planning needs assessment:

Who is the assessment attempting to inform, influence, or persuade?

What purpose is the needs assessment intended to accomplish?

Whose needs are to be assessed?

What questions need to be asked? Do you already know the answers? Can you do anything to change the situation?

How will the information be used?

What resources are available to do needs assessments?

Five Needs Assessment Techniques

Existing Data Approach

Already existing statistical data is used to obtain insights about the well-being of people. This approach uses descriptive statistics such as census data, labor surveys, bank deposit data, sales tax reports, police reports, school and hospital information to prepare an assessment report for the community.

Attitude Survey Approach

Information is gathered from a representative sample of community residents about issues pertaining to their well-being. Data is collected by personal interviews, telephone surveys, hand-delivered questionnaires or mail questionnaires. Responses are generally representative of the whole community.

Key Informant Approach

The Key Informant Approach identifies community leaders and decision makers who are knowledgeable about the community and can accurately identify priority needs and concerns. Key informants complete a questionnaire or are interviewed to obtain their impressions of community needs. The information is then analyzed and reported to the community.

Community Forum

A public meeting(s) is held during which time the participants discuss what some of the needs facing the community are, what some of the priority needs are, and what can be done about these priority needs. All members of the community are encouraged to attend and express their concerns pertaining to their well-being and perceived needs.

Focus Group Interview

A group of people selected for their particular skills, experience, views, or position are asked a series of questions about a topic or issue to gather their opinions. Group interaction is used to obtain detailed information about a particular issue.

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