Finding Stakeholders Needs in Pandemic
Has your organization changed because of COVID-19? Are you still meeting the needs of your stakeholders?
Who are your stakeholders?
Stakeholders include your program staff, clients, funders, volunteers, and board members. In a time of global crisis, these stakeholders are more interconnected now than before. Finding stakeholders’ needs in pandemic times should be a focus within your orgniazation.
Are you collecting feedback from your stakeholders?
COVID-19 has changed everyday life for almost everyone. How have your clients’ needs changed? What about the way in which your donors wish to be contacted or the availability of volunteers? Do you have a good read on what your stakeholders need now?
Consider conducting a Needs Assessment. A Needs Assessment is a tool to discover what your stakeholders see as their most important needs from your organization. Leverage what you learn to ensure that your current programs and services still align with the needs of your community. Communicate to your funders and volunteers more clearly about your current needs.
There are several important elements of a useful Needs Assessment. First, the needs assessment must identify critical needs. As one evaluator explains, “A need is the measurable discrepancy between two conditions—“what is” and “what should be.” Without assessing a ‘gap’ it is not a [needs assessment].” Thus, the first critical step is to understand the problem. One of the easiest ways to identify these needs is through a survey, although you can also create an interview protocol (e.g., a list of pre-designed interview questions) or conduct a focus group.
What questions should you ask?
The questions you ask will differ depending upon what type of organization you lead, as well as which stakeholders you ask.
For example, if you conduct a survey with your internal stakeholders such as your staff and board members, you will want to focus on strategic issues. In their opinion, what are your organization’s strengths and weaknesses? What needs do they think are most important during this time?? Where do they see your organization in three to five years? How do they define success?
If you are surveying your clients, then the questions will focus on their needs. How have they been affected by the pandemic? How has your organization helped them? How might your organization help them better?
If you are surveying donors, then will want to focus on their priorities and interests. Are they still interested in supporting your mission or are they focused on other pandemic-related service providers (e.g., healthcare, essential services)?
As you design your survey, make sure you balance quantitative (e.g., close-ended, Likert) and qualitative (open-ended, narrative) questions. Consider offering incentives such as grocery store gift cards or entry into a raffle to encourage participants to complete the survey. And be sure to test your survey. Read more tips for survey design here.
How do you use your needs assessment findings?
What do you do next once you have completed a Needs Assessment?
Collecting the survey data is merely the first step. In order for your data to be useful, you must be diligent with follow-through efforts. Read the survey results and identify the most-common needs and/or gaps. Prioritize those needs. Meet with your internal stakeholders to make strategic decisions and create plans for addressing these needs. Then begin implementing the plan (Hung, 2016). As you implement the plan, be sure to communicate well with your stakeholders, particularly your funders, about the critical needs your organization is addressing!
Finding Stakeholders Needs in Pandemic: Need help?
Want to create a Needs Assessment Survey but still don’t know where to start? Be sure to look at some of the resources below. You can also contact Research Evaluation Consulting for a free 30-minute consultation call to discuss how we might be able to partner with you for your Needs Assessment project!
Community Tool Box (2020). Conducting needs assessment surveys. Community Tool Box. Link: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/conducting-needs-assessment-surveys/main
Hites. (2020). Just-in-time community engaged needs assessment: COVID-19 redux by Lisle Hites. American Evaluation Association 365. Link: https://aea365.org/blog/na-tig-week-just-in-time-community-engaged-needs-assessment-covid-19-redux-by-lisle-hites/
Hung, H.S. (2016). Key ingredients for a simple needs assessment recipe. American Evaluation Association 365. Link: https://aea365.org/blog/na-tig-week-hsin-ling-sonya-hung-on-key-ingredients-for-a-simple-needs-assessment-recipe/
Lumbantobing. (2020). How to perform a needs assessment for your community during COVID-19. Ioby: Crowdfunding for Communities. Link: https://blog.ioby.org/how-to-perform-a-needs-assessment-for-your-community-during-covid-19/
Pearlman. (2019). COVID-19 Pandemic highlights need for stakeholders to be considered. American Bar Association. Link: https://businesslawtoday.org/2020/04/covid-19-pandemic-highlights-need-stakeholders-considered/
Shtivelband. (2019). 5 tips for creating a survey. Research Evaluation Consulting. Link: http://www.researchevaluationconsulting.com/tips-survey-creation/
Wishnick. (2019). Strategic planning for nonprofits: Engage diverse stakeholders. MissionBox Global Network. Link: https://www.missionbox.com/article/233/strategic-planning-for-nonprofits-engage-diverse-stakeholders