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The importance of a community needs assessment

Mar 23, 2018

You’re a Kiwanian. You want to serve your community. But to do it effectively, you must know what your community needs. That’s where a community needs assessment comes in.

By assessing your community’s needs, you will gain a better understanding of the area you want to serve — whether it’s an entire city or a small neighborhood. You will learn about the community’s resources, engage with community members and potentially develop new community partnerships.

A community needs assessment is a beneficial task for any kind of project, both new and ongoing. It is important to prove that your club’s work is relevant and needed in your community. 

The first step is to define your scope, by identifying the community you want to serve. For instance, you could assess the needs of children within the neighborhoods surrounding a local elementary school.

To get started, you should consider partnerships. Do you want to assess the community on your own? Or could local organizations or nonprofits lend a hand? In the above example, perhaps the Parent Teacher Organization of the elementary school would assist.

Next, you’ll gather data, which can take many forms. You may decide to host a community meeting and invite individuals to express the needs they see. You may decide to send a survey to key community organizations to gather their input. Perhaps you attend a PTO meeting to learn what parents and teachers think.

Once you have received information from your community, you can review it and determine your key findings — such as your community’s strengths and gaps, as well as the opportunities and challenges it faces. Use those key findings to make informed decisions. Create an action plan with goals and objectives for your project.

Don’t forget to share your findings. Other community entities will be interested to know what you’ve learned and may even want to partner with you. A complete community needs assessment can be especially helpful when approaching potential funders for your project.

In fact, it is a critical part of the Children’s Fund club grant application. You can learn more about conducting a community needs assessment in this resource and in our Guide to Club Grants.

We know kids need Kiwanis. Conducting a community needs assessment helps you determine why and how they need us.