Community Empowerment Research

We help churches, schools, and community organizations
measure needs of the people they serve,
set strategies to meet those needs, and
assess the impact of their work in service, training, evangelism, and outreach.

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Choose Where to Serve: The Needs Assessment Process




Key Characteristics

Key Steps


Phase I:

Getting Organized, and what do we know?

Determine the focus of the needs assessment and get started

Focusing the needs assessment and what do we know about possible needs?

Formation of a group to guide the assessment

Focusing in on main concerns

Finding out what is already known

 1.  Focus the assessment

 2.  Form the Needs Assessment Committee

 3.  Learn as much as we can about preliminary “what should be” and “what is” conditions from available data sources

 4.  Move to Phases II and/or III or stop

Do not go further; there is no need

A more major needs assessment will have to be undertaken

Move to Phase III, only if appropriate

Phase II:

Do we need to know more, toward full understanding?

Conduct a more in-depth examination of needs, if necessary

Develop more understanding of needs at Levels 1, 2, and 3

Get a first sense of causes of needs and establish initial priorities

Do we need to know more?  Will we have to conduct a much more intensive data collection effort, and do we have ideas about what are the causes of needs?

Implement needs assessment procedures such as surveys, focus group interviews, observations, analytic techniques, etc.

Data collection and analysis

Sort needs by levels

 5.  Conduct a full assessment about “what should be” and “what is” conditions

 6.  Identify discrepancies (Levels 1, 2, and 3)

 7.  Prioritize discrepancies

 8.  Causually analyze needs

 9.  Preliminary identification of solution criteria and possible solution strategies

10. Move to Phase III

Understand needs in enough detail to move to Phase III

Causes (at least some) of needs have been identified to guide either possible solution strategy development or selection

Phase III:

Moving toward actions based on needs

Take action in regard to resolving the problem underlying the need

Are we ready to take action and have we learned enough about the need to feel comfortable with our proposed actions?

Causal analysis of needs

Develop criteria for solution strategies

Identify solution strategies via the literature, benchmarking, etc.

Summative evaluation of needs assessment process

Document of process for reuse at a later time

11. Make final decisions to resolve needs and select solution strategies

12. Develop action plans for solution strategies, communicating plans, and building bases of support

13. Implement and monitor plans

14. Evaluate the overall needs assessment endeavor (document with an eye to revisit and reuse)

Decide to take action in regard to needs-based priorities

Consider alternative action strategies and selection of same.

Build support in organization for implementation of action plans

Evaluate the assessment

From Needs Assessment: An Overview by James W. Altshuld and David Devraj Kumer, 2010.