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


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