How to Conduct a Community Needs Assessment
The best way to conduct a community needs assessment is to ask the residents of a community what types of services and programs they would like and need. You may want to partner with a state or local agency or other organization. Planning a meeting between organizations is a good idea to find out what the other organization’s programs entail and how they relate to your programs to determine the needs assessment of a joint program for your community. You will need to identify the goals and objectives of the program and identify your target populations as well as the timeline to implement the program. Community resources should also be taken into account. You may want to have a public forum to find out what the community wants. The organization will need to prepare a survey and collect the results. Also, decisions need to be made on how to distribute the survey and analyze the data. Finally, it will need to be put into a summary report. Once you determine your program, you can look for funding.
Preparing the Survey
You may want to set up a focus group and invite them to an event by sending out an invitation or flyer or posting the information on the Internet at your organization’s website. Make a list of important issues to present to the focus group. Ask the group what they are satisfied with as far as community services and what strengths they think the community has with regard to current programs. Find out what they think is needed. You may be able to recruit volunteers at the focus group meeting. Be sure to tell everyone when the survey will be ready.
When you prepare the survey, use about 25-30 questions, and make sure they are easy to understand by everyone. Use a scale for the survey answers such as completely satisfied, unsatisfied, not important and very important. This makes it easier to be answered and does not intimate anyone. Decide how you are going to distribute the survey-whether it will be in person by going door to door, mailing it or email. If you are going door to door, then make sure you go at time when most people will be home such as on a weekend or after dinner.
After you have collected the data, then you can summarize it by the categories of importance and prepare your report. This will then help you decide what type of program you need to implement that is most needed in your community and which compliments other community programs. This will help ensure your program’s success and help you obtain grants and other funding to implement your program.