Nonprofit Operational Manual

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Needs Assessment

A needs assessment is a crucial element of your programming cycle, informing decision-making processes and intervention options for addressing identified challenges. A quality needs assessment helps to determine an effective response that can have a lasting impact on the effectiveness of project interventions, level of funding and quality coordination/partnerships while contributing to improved stakeholder engagement and beneficiary ownership.

What is a needs assessment?
Simply put, needs assessment is a process of asking a group of people or community about their most important need and actions they think can be taken to address them. Findings from the assessment can then be used to develop appropriate response for addressing the needs.

A needs assessment should not necessarily be formal; it can be done informally and within a reasonable time, budget and human resources. For example you can informally ask people you know in the community where you are planning your intervention, women in the market, attendants at petrol station, church or mosque members etc. what they think about the issue and document that. Or you could do a structured survey that is administered professionally. Whatever forms your needs assessment will take, we recommend taking into consideration these common elements:

A need assessment if properly planned and executed helps you to know more about the issue you are trying to address and document properly your needs (justification) as is required in funding applications including in developing advocacy and campaign strategies around the issues. It also helps to build community ownership and buy-in for your interventions. Note that a need assessment is not necessary before every action especially if there are other surveys and reports that provide you adequate information for planning your projects.

We however think that it is good to do a needs assessment if you:
In understanding the needs of a community we recommend these five steps:
You can follow these steps:
See sample needs assessment plan used by the Network at
When undergoing a needs assessment, take note of the following: