Identifying community needs, strengths, and gaps in services enhances an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission and improve outcomes for the people it serves. Detailed needs assessments highlight real needs in the community based on concrete data, validate and refine assumptions, and discover previously unidentified challenges. Needs assessments provide decision-makers with the information needed to target future directions and initiatives.
RDA works with our clients to develop comprehensive needs assessments to inform strategic decision-making. We design and implement our assessments through a collaborative process that includes the full range of stakeholders whose services depend on the results. We carefully review relevant client documents and publicly available information on similar programs. Often, our assessments include a mapping component that allows our clients to see where the highest needs are in their communities. We understand that needs assessments serve multiple purposes and that findings rooted in data can better assess program progress, identify needs, and propose recommendations for improved performance. To maximize accuracy, we collaborate with people with direct experience of the service system, their family members, community groups, community-based organizations, public agencies, and other stakeholders to identify unique needs, program objectives, and recommendations for success. Our inclusive approach to interviews, focus groups, town halls, and other data collection intentionally takes into account the needs and perspectives of hard-to-reach and historically underserved populations. Once we compile the data, we again consult with stakeholders to refine our understanding of what the data mean. We believe this collaboration is crucial to ensuring that each assessment is culturally responsive, informed by and accountable to the stakeholder community, and relevant for key decision-making activities.