Starting July 1, 2018, any club or district that applies for a global grant to support a humanitarian project or a vocational training team will need to conduct a community needs assessment first and include the results in the grant application. Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, needs, and assets of the community you’re helping is an essential first step in planning an effective project. Not only do assessments lead to projects that have the most meaningful impact, but the process itself also builds valuable relationships, involves residents in decisions that will shape their communities, and encourages them to participate in making lasting improvements. Most important, projects that are informed by community assessments are more sustainable.
Global grants require both a host partner and an international partner. The host partner, because of its local expertise and proximity to the project location, usually conducts the mandatory community needs assessment and manages project implementation and expenses.
Through the assessment, you’ll collect information about resources as well as needs, whether and how issues are being addressed, and what actions will most likely improve the community. Keep these general assessment principles in mind: • Talk to everyone. Gather perspectives from a broad cross-section of the community, involving those who will plan, participate in, and benefit from the project. • Trust local knowledge. • Identify needs that community members are passionate about tackling. • Use available human assets.
Financial resources available for any project will be limited. Ask all those involved how they can contribute to improving their community. All participants can and should provide valuable contributions to the effort. • Think long term. Involve community members in identifying long-term goals for maintaining the project outcomes on their own after the grant funds are spent. • If the assessment identifies multiple needs, consider which issue or need community members are most passionate about and how your club can help them address it. • Determine which need your club is best able to meet through a Foundation grant and available club resources. • Consider factors such as Rotarian technical expertise, location of the project site, required time commitment, and financial resources.
You can combine or adapt the following six assessments to best suit your club’s resources and the preferences of community members: Community meeting; Asset inventory; Survey; Interview; Focus group; and Community mapping.
A thoroughly conducted Community Needs Assessment will help improve the likelihood of the project being sustainable. The community has input into the project identification process to meet their needs. It will be a project that they want and are more willing to support long term after implementation. Remember in the assessment process – it is not what you think the community needs; it is what the community thinks they need. It may be the case that what they think they need does not fit into the seven areas of focus as identified by the Rotary Foundation. A global grant project must be qualifiable under at least one of the seven areas of focus.
Information about Community Needs Assessment tools can be found on MyRotary.com in the downloadable document (shown above):