Community Needs Assessments 

What does CSBG Require?

The organizational standards state that a community needs assessment (CNA) must:

Standard 1.2 states that a CEE must analyze information collected directly from low-income individuals as part of the community assessment. 

Standard 2.2 states that a CEE must utilize information gathered from key sectors of the community in assessing needs and resources, during the community assessment process. These sectors would include at minimum: community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, private sector, public sector, and educational institutions.

Standard 3.1 states that a CEE must conduct a community assessment and issue a report within the past 3 years

Standard 3.2 states that a CEE must collect and include current data specific to poverty and its prevalence related to gender, age, and race/ethnicity for their service area(s).

Standard 3.3 states that a CEE must collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data on its geographic service area(s) in the community assessment.

Standard 3.4 states that a CEE must include key findings on the causes and conditions of poverty and the needs of the communities assessed.

Standard 6.4 states that a CEE must collect customer satisfaction data and customer input, as part of the community assessment

Where should I get data for our CNA?
There are many places to get demographic and poverty related statistics for a CNA.  One tool that has been developed by the CSBG National Partners is Community Action Partnership's Data Hub. Another good site to get data form is the U.S. Census Bureau. For demographic information from the Census Bureau check out the Quick Facts or the American FactFinder sections.

You can also find some more data by using resources provided from a university, local government, or state government.
Who Should I partner with?
When getting ready to conduct a CNA, we recommend finding agencies to partner with in your community. Finding partners can help meet CSBG requirements like standard 2.2 as well as reduce the cost each agency pays for a CNA. There are many other organizations that do needs assessments periodically. A few places we recommend looking in your community are:
  • Head Start Organizations: Organizations who receive funding from Head Start are required by federal regulations to do a needs assessment at least every 5 years
  • Hospitals: Hospitals who are classified as a 501c3 are required to do a Community Health Needs Assessment every 3 years
  • Local United Way organizations  
Who does CNAs?
Listed below are some companies, and people, who have done CNAs in the past. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are additional companies out there who conduct CNAs.  When you are researching which company to use, reach out to us find out how you can get customer testimonials. 
What sections should our CNA have?
A good CNA should have multiple sections.  Here are a few sections that help make the CNA a useful document that is easy to understand:
  • Executive summary with key findings, possible solutions, and recommendations
  • A description of your agency/ department
  • Overview of the assessment process (methodologies, staffing)
  • Methods of data collection
  • Methods of data analyses
  • General demographics and information on population assesed
  • Quantitative data with analysis
  • Qualitative data with analysis
  • Needs identified/ Key findings
  • Barriers in community assessed
  • Strengths in community assessed
Are there any additional reports or documents we could make from our CNA?

Yes, a simplified report should be given to the general public.

A document should be created from the community needs assessment that can be given to potential funders.

A report can be made to give to local elected officials and state representatives.  



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