News & Views

A blog for those interested in what affects, motivates and drives the New York City Nonprofit Sector — written by CRE’s crackerjack consulting team. We hope you use this space to share your thoughts, ask questions and engage in conversations about our city, social justice and the nonprofit sector.

Why do a Needs Assessment?

 In plain language, a needs assessment will help you determine whether your proposed work is truly necessary.  It is important to know this before you begin: fundraising is a challenge under any circumstances, but it will be impossible if your organization does not address a real need that other groups do not. A needs assessment is an opportunity to ask yourself (as others will ask you later): Why now and why you?


The purpose of a needs assessment is to:


  • Understand the extent of the problem.
  • Gather the information about all the services that are available to your target population.
  • Identify the gaps in the services available to your target population.

A needs assessment is also a great opportunity to involve current or potential program participants in the planning process. Ask them about their needs and about what gaps they see in the services available to them.  This will help you design a program that is truly responsive to your target population.


Whether your data collection is formal or informal, at the end you should be able to answer four questions:

  • What do the individuals who are part of your target community identify as their key needs?
  • What needs are not being met by other organizations serving this target population?
  • Does the need you have identified fit within your organization’s mission or statement of purpose as captured in your incorporation papers?
  • Do you have within your group of skills, experiences, and connections to the target audience that will enable you to address this need effectively?

Use this chart to guide you through the process of a needs assessment. The completed chart should be used to inform your group’s choices about its programs and to form the basis for its case statement for funding.


Find us on:  CRE on Twitter CRE on Facebook  

News and Views


grantmakers computers Featured Items CRE Tips United Way of NYC Ero Gray publications leadership Data nonprofit leaders Mohan Sikka HR Without HR Holly Delany Cole Mark Light 30th Anniversary capacity building fundraising civic engagement case statement Interns executive board leadership board and staff relations New York Ximena Rua-Merkin lower Manhattan Philanthropic Collaborative mergers guest blogger Funding Updates Data Starved Barbara Turk Maria Mottola Stanford Social Innovation Review Rashid Littlejohn I.T. without I.T. Jeff Ballow queens harvard business school nonprofit ownership President Obama Needs Assessment New York Times Pavitra Menon New York City Government tips nonprofit accountability Daring to Lead jobs website, resources, announcements record keeping evaluation grantmakers for effective organizations cre Nonprofit News Karen Erdos Client News collaborations Hurricane Sandy Harvard Kennedy School What is Core? Pamela Dicent Nonprofit Tools NYCCCOC Valyrie Laedlein executive transition Nonprofit Quarterly media Fran's Corner Jean Lobell strategic alliances Nonprofit Governance as Leadership Useful Links nonprofit mergers MAC AIDS Fund handling the unexpected announcment generative Development Survey CRE POV CRE News Sector Research NYS Budget rockaways staff RFP nonprofit management House Party IT Beth Kobliner accountability Michael Hickey government internal controls National and Community Service Neighborhood Based Capacity Building Initiative Louisa Hackett Nonprofit Sustainability HIV/AIDS services providers foundations postponed event Volunteers Rona Taylor Randall Quan Board of Directors CRE Executive Search Alliance for Nonprofit Management arts hard times Government News bookkeeping New York Foundation New York Community Trust Huffington Post Peter Block nonprofit start-ups community Albany Fran Barrett Barbara Blumenthal proposal writing National Committee of Responsive Philanthropy Government Updates Coaching Bill Ryan Advocacy