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Do you know what your community needs?

Jennifer Morlan | Sep 23, 2019

The Kiwanis Club of Berlin, New Hampshire, holds a bike rodeo annually for area kids

Kiwanians want to serve their communities. That’s been at the core of Kiwanis International for more than 100 years. But what a community needs today may be different than what it needed five, 10 or 20 years ago. Communities are continually changing. Their populations and economies may grow or contract. They may experience a surge in young families or have more retirees.

The best way to determine how to serve your community is to conduct a needs assessment. Not only is it a great tool, but it’s also a requirement for receiving a club grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.

Here are five reasons to conduct a community needs assessment before starting a service project:

  1. Establishes the foundation for the project. Investing time at the beginning of a project to learn about your community allows your club to feel confident that it will be making a meaningful impact.  
  2. Planning requires accurate, up-to-date information. When you learn about your community, you can feel assured you are working with facts, not assumptions. Understanding the details and scope of the need your club is addressing will help you create your budget, raise money, set a timeline and allocate volunteers and supplies.
  3. Proves your club is relevant and cares. After conducting a needs assessment, it is vital to share your findings. This allows the entire community to benefit from your hard work. Community members are more likely to support your efforts when they clearly understand the work you have done and how it meets the community’s needs.
  4. Creates the opportunity for partnerships. Your club can partner with another organization, such as a parent-teacher organization, church or a local foundation, to conduct the community needs assessment. By collaborating with others, you may gain additional resources, engage more community members and establish relationships beyond the reach of your club. In addition, to receive a Kiwanis club grant you must have at least one non-Kiwanian funding partner.
  5. Helps attract new members. Holding a community meeting or a forum as part of your community assessment is a great way to spotlight your Kiwanis club. It might attract community-minded citizens who aren't aware of the great things your club does. Use contact information gathered when attendees sign in to keep them up to date on the project. You can invite them to a club meeting or event!

Different types of community needs assessments:  

There are many ways to collect data about your community. Some of the common ways include holding a community meeting to hear as many voices as possible; creating a focus group to hear from a specific, pre-selected group; holding one-on-one interviews with community members to gain a deeper understanding of opinions; or conducting a survey via email, phone or mail.  

Click here for more helpful tips about conducting a community needs assessments and the Children’s Fund club grant program.

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