1.2. Identify the need
The process of identifying the needs involves:
- taking a context look at the communities you serve,
- taking a comprehensive look at your organisation,
- taking a look at needs vs funding alignment.
If you are serious about making a lasting change, looking at all the aspects highlighted further is not an artificial exercise.
Communities you serve
While it may sound obvious, it is a good idea to review how close your organisation relates to the target group.
The closeness, the mutual integration is called internal representativeness. When it is prioritised, the decision-making becomes more inclusive and reflective of the unique experiences and perspectives of all stakeholders.
This can help to uncover issues that might otherwise go unnoticed and develop solutions and projects that are more tailored to those unique needs.
Strong sector voice
A well-organised sector ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, programs are effective, and services reach those who need them most. How is this important in conducting needs assessment? You may have little impact on the sector itself but knowing the internal dynamics, directions and challenges will give you a frame of reference.
Stakeholder and beneficiary involvement
The involvement of stakeholders and beneficiaries is crucial when it comes to identifying needs and designing effective interventions. Make sure your target group is a part of the process from the very start. Make sure you listen, understand and incorporate the feedback.
Statistics and research in understanding community needs
Public statistics, national and European, are all general sources of valuable data, providing insights into the demographics, socioeconomic status, and other factors that can affect the well-being of communities.
Complementing this data with specific sources such as ODISMET (Observatory on Disability and the Labour Market) can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the needs of a community.
Moreover, conducting research can also provide additional insights into the specific needs of a community. This might be costly and time consuming, so you should judge carefully whether you have the sufficient research capacity. Teaming up with other organisations might prove useful.
The proactive approach allows you to stay ahead of the curve and respond to emerging needs in a timely and efficient manner. It is necessary to stay aware of related developments – social, technological, economic. You plan to assist your communities in the years, even decades ahead, so staying ahead of the curve is important. Be realistic but stay innovative. It is a constant process. What we can advise is keep connecting the dots – seeing the relationships. This is where the trends will emerge.
For example, the rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for digital skills training (digitization of organisations as well as extending digital skills of the target groups) and flexible work arrangements, such as part time job work / reduced hours, job sharing, flex hours, flex place / remote work and other arrangements that bring equal opportunities to the labour market.