Outline for Assessing Community Needs and Resources

Assessing Community Needs and Resources

Understanding a community's concerns enables staff to effectively characterize its needs and respond with appropriate interventions. This resource can be used by program directors and consultants involved in coordinating and conducting community assessments. In order to assess communities and create a community profile, program directors and consultants need to discover those things that matter to the community, what issues the community feels are most important to address, and what resources are available to bring about change. This article provides a detailed outline for assessing community needs.

  1. Describe the makeup and history of the community to provide a context within which to collect data on its current concerns.
    1. Comment on the types of information that best describes the community (e.g., demographic, historical, political, civic participation, key leaders, past concerns, geographic, assets)
    2. Describe the sources (e.g., city hall, maps, phone book, library, newspaper) of information
    3. Comment on whether there are sufficient resources (e.g., time, personnel, resources) available to collect this information
    4. Comment on the methods (e.g., key leader interviews, observation, ethnography, windshield tour) used to collect the descriptive information
    5. Assess the quality of the information
    6. Describe the strengths and problems you heard about
  2. Describe what matters to local people
    1. Discuss how you arranged to listen to community leaders and members
    2. Describe who you listened to and why
    3. Discuss the methods (e.g., listening sessions, public forums, interviews, concerns surveys, focus groups, ethnography, interviews) you used to listen to the community
    4. Illustrate the issues of concern to people in the community
      1. Explain how important these issues are to citizens
      2. Express how satisfied citizens are with community efforts on the issues
      3. List priorities based on issues of high importance and low satisfaction
    5. Describe barriers or resistance to solving the problem.
    6. Describe the resources available to problem solving efforts
    7. Tell of possible solutions and alternatives suggested by the community
  3. Describe the needs identified by community stakeholders (optional)
    1. Indicate the target populations and subgroups
    2. Specify who the stakeholders are
    3. Describe what they wanted to know
      1. List the questions you asked
    4. Describe the methods (e.g., surveys, interviews, secondary information, small group discussion) you used to gather information
      1. If you used a survey, describe the sampling method
    5. Describe the limitations of the needs assessment
  4. Compile and describe the evidence suggesting that identified issues should be a priority
    1. Describe the community level indicators -- those incidence or prevalence levels of behavior or events that relate to the issues of concern (e.g. if joblessness is an issue in the community, you may want to collect information on the unemployment rate and the rate of job creation in the community)
    2. Explain how frequently it occurs
    3. Illustrate how many people are affected by it and in what severity
    4. Discuss how feasible attempting to solve it is
    5. Explain the possible impact and/or consequences of solving it
  5. Describe the resources available in or to the community that help address this issue
    1. Indicate what and where the resources are. Express how we identify and tap into those attributes that could help facilitate the process.
    2. Indicate who the community leaders are. Describe the individuals and organizations that influence the community.
    3. Describe how the networks are organized. Explain how you can build on already existing networks and effectively foster new ones.
    4. Depict the community projects currently in progress. Analyze and discuss what this tells us about where the community is invested and how they might be involved in the future.

University of Kansas, Community Tool Box

Outline for Assessing Community Needs and Resources. Assessing Community Needs and Resources. Community Assessment, Agenda Setting, Choice of Broad Strategies. Community Tool Box. University of Kansas. n.d. English.

Last Reviewed: October 2012

Last Updated: August 10, 2015