Posted by mjb

Assessing Community Needs

Remember, it’s important that you find a service project that you are passionate about, but it’s also important that your project has a true impact because it fills a need in the community. By working within the community and with the community members themselves, you can gather information about the sorts of wants that the community has for itself. Plus, working with the community you will build community awareness and help to ensure community support for your service activities.

Here are some suggestions for ways to assess community needs:

  • Brainstorm
    1. Gather students, Hands On Action Center staff, university personnel, and/or other community members to brainstorm community issues/needs. As a group, examine the causes and effects of the issue and then brainstorm potential projects to address the needs identified.
  • Community Dreams
    1. Make an effort to meet and mingle with people living in the community you’re working with, and ask them about the changes they would like to see happen. If they had unlimited resources, what would they like to change? How would they go about changing it?
  • Community Walk
    1. Take a walk through the community where you want to serve. Write down and/or take pictures of what you see. Take note of potential project sites, such as parks or schools, as well as potential project partners, including businesses and community service organizations (CSO’s). What are specific needs that you find?
  • Community Forum
    1. Hold a forum to collect information from community members about issues/needs. Ask them to offer suggestions for potential projects. This takes some effort; you may need to talk to community groups already in existence or community leaders to find out the best way to set this up. You don’t want a meeting that is too large for you to conduct well, or the event has the potential to be disorganized and leave people feeling like their suggestions were well received.
  • Survey
    1. Conduct a formal or informal survey of community members to identify issues/needs. Surveys might include questions such as:
      1. What problems do you see in the community?
      2. What are the most pressing issues in the community right now?
      3. What types of service projects would be most beneficial for the community?
      4. List two things you want to change in the community.

Go back to On Campus: Getting Started.

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