Community Needs Assessment
Before you begin planning your group's activities for the semester, you must know the local scope of hunger and homelessness and what the community needs most. Once you know this information, you can decide how to use your resources to make the biggest impact.
The best way to do this is by calling a couple of agencies in the community. Once you get the director or manager on the phone, simply have a conversation with them that explains who you are, and why you're calling. Below is a list of questions that you can ask to help determine some of the agency's needs and how your group can play a role in addressing those needs. These questions are only meant to give you some guidance. You will have to dig deeper during your conversation to get a comprehensive understanding of the programs, gaps, and resources needed.
- What types of services does your agency provide?
- Who is eligible for you services?
- How many clients did you serve last month?
- How many requests for each service are you unable to meet?
- Have you noticed an increase in the number of clients you have had within the past year? If so, how large has the increase been?
- How has the increased number of clients affected the operation of your agency?
- What do you think are the greatest needs of this population?
- Do you think an expansion of your services could meet some of these needs? (Ask questions about the method, feasibility, and costs associated with the expansion of services.) If not, what additional means do you think should be used to fill unmet needs in the community?
- What can students do to help meet your agency's current needs?
From this information, you can decide how often your group could volunteer, if the agency needs funds to continue operating or to meet an unmet need, and what political action you can take to advocate for the programs and funding that the agency needs.