Conducting a Needs Assessment

What Is a Needs Assessment?

A needs assessment is a systematic investigation of a population or community to assess the current state of resources such as knowledge, abilities, interests, and approaches pertinent to the focus of the needs assessment, which can be a concern, aspiration, or intention.

In other words, a needs assessment is a focused examination of the way things currently are and the way things can or should be in order to fill a gap in services (e.g., establish trainings to address a specific need).

Why Conduct a Needs Assessment?

A needs assessment is most commonly conducted to determine the need for a type of program or service and to determine what type of content should be included in the program curriculum.

The needs assessment process includes the following steps:

  • Collecting information about the target population or community (see Participatory Evaluation in Module 3 for more information about what this entails)
  • Deciding what needs are already met and what resources exist
  • Determining what needs are not being addressed