By definition, nonprofits aren’t trying to earn a profit, but they are still a business and should follow certain standard business procedures in order to operate successfully. When businesses launch a new product, they do a needs assessment to determine if there is a real demand for their product – if there is no demand, they will lose money. Before launching a new nonprofit initiative or service, you must also perform a needs assessment to determine if there is a want for it in your community.
A needs assessment is a process for figuring out if people require the service you want to provide and if it will appropriately address their needs. It lays the foundation for planning and implementing the new initiative by aligning resources with strategy and clarifying any potential opportunities or issues.
At the start of the needs assessment, some of the questions you will need to answer include:
If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, you can perform a survey to collect data about the community and audience over the phone, door-to-door, or by using focus groups. Once you know your competition and whom you are hoping to target, you can start developing goals, determining resources, pinpointing problems, and prioritizing actions.
We also encourage our nonprofit organizations to perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis as part of a needs assessment. Determining these key insights will help you formulate your new marketing strategy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
What you write under these two sections will help you to look internally at your organization to figure out what it is you’re capable of doing and where there’s room for improvement. Your strengths can include things that make your initiative unique, your experience and knowledge, and the quality and reputation of your organization.
When it comes to the weaknesses section of your SWOT, you should incorporate areas that need the most work. This could include a gap in skills, staffing issues, or motivational problems throughout your organization. From determining your weaknesses you’ll be able to fix any issues within your nonprofit, and ensure that your staff is motivated and involved.
Opportunities and Threats
Many organizations are great at looking within, but find it more difficult to examine external factors. The opportunities and threats sections force you to focus on the conditions of the real world and how they affect your initiative. Opportunities can include partnerships you can make in the community, ways to reduce costs, and ideas for diversifying the organization. The threats section should include any possible changes in the community that could negatively impact your initiative, any strong competitors, and things such as seasonality.
Once you have narrowed your initiative’s focus, determined your target audience, and performed a SWOT analysis, you will be able to confidently determine if your initiative is of great need in the community. If there isn’t a need for your initiative, you’re able to start over without having invested too much time, work, or money into something that would have been unsuccessful. If there is a need for your nonprofit’s program, you’ll be able to get right to work!
Like any good business, a nonprofit should never start a new service without determining if there’s an actual need for it. A good needs assessment will help ensure your initiative’s eventual success and support your organization on its way to achieving its goals.
Did your organization perform a needs assessment for a program you recently launched? What did you learn from it? Let us know in the comments below! Have a future blog topic or tips for nonprofit professionals? Give us a shout by clicking here!
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. These cookies ensure basic functionalities and security features of the website, anonymously.
|cookielawinfo-checbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|
Functional cookies help to perform certain functionalities like sharing the content of the website on social media platforms, collect feedbacks, and other third-party features.
Performance cookies are used to understand and analyze the key performance indexes of the website which helps in delivering a better user experience for the visitors.
Analytical cookies are used to understand how visitors interact with the website. These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc.
Advertisement cookies are used to provide visitors with relevant ads and marketing campaigns. These cookies track visitors across websites and collect information to provide customized ads.
Other uncategorized cookies are those that are being analyzed and have not been classified into a category as yet.