community needs analysis

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Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses are inclusive, responsive to local community need, and look to address gaps and unmet needs through innovation and partnership collaboration at a local level.

The sector’s 50-year history of successful program development and strong partnerships with government demonstrates an accumulated wealth of skills, professional experience and resources in identifying and advocating for community need.

Although community needs assessment is a familiar practice to centres, the approach and frequency in which they are undertaken, varies across the Sector and is dependent on Centre capacity, available time and resources.

There is a need for a standardised community needs assessment tool to support Centres adopt a systematic and evidence-based approach to collect and analyse information about their local population and their needs, and prioritise these needs for action.

Community Centres play an important role in the not-for-profit service network in South Australia. The knowledge they contribute through this evidence-based approach will support any collective action on local issues requiring a place-based approach to respond to local needs.

Developed Through Co-Design

The Community Needs Analysis Tool was developed by the Community Centre and Neighbourhood House sector through a process of co-design that involved Community Centres SA, participating Community Centres, Local Councils, and Flinders University.

The tool was trialled at 6 Community Centres by 12 Flinders University Social Work Students as part of their 500 hour placement, providing valuable feedback in real time, that lead to the development of the final version.

The tool is intentionally simple and replicable and is seen as a relatively basic yet rigorous way to inform planning for future projects, identify potential partners in developing a local response to meet unmet community need, and support funding requirements.

The Community Needs Analysis Tool

This tool will assist your Community Centre to:

  • Plan for future projects and activities based on demonstrable community need
  • Identify potential partners in developing a local response to unmet community need
  • Support grant applications which increasingly require a rigorous evidence base; and
  • Tell your story about why you do what you do.

The information collected in the community needs analysis tool will provide evidence for:

  • who you wish to reach in your community and why;
  • what need you wish to address, and how this need was identified; and
  • what some of the priorities may be for your organisation to address.

This Community Needs Analysis tool is only one approach amongst many to inform us about the complexity of our local communities. It has been developed in a way that:

  • is simple and clear
  • uses existing demographic tools readily available
  • recognises existing knowledge in the community
  • is replicable – can be used by volunteers/staff/other community centre stakeholders; and
  • is best practice and incorporates professional knowledge, lived experience and broader research

3 Stages, 6 Steps

There are 3 stages and 6 steps in this tool. These steps use both qualitative and quantitative data.


Community Centres SA launched the Community Needs Analysis Toolkit in a live webinar on Tuesday, 7 April.

The interactive webinar covered the essentials regarding this new toolkit and included an interview between Kylie Fergusen, CEO, Community Centres SA and Jim Gillespie from the Department of Human Services.

For those of you who missed this webinar you can now access the full webinar recording here.

Below are workable Word Document versions of the example Tables provided in our Community Needs Analysis Toolkit for your ease of use:

Community Needs Analysis Resource Pool

Undertaking community needs analyses will be an evolving practice for the sector. The Tool is at one end of the continuum in its simplest form, which when used systematically, will tell the story of the Centre and its Community, and produce basic evidence on which to identify priorities for action.

Centres can adapt this tool, specifically the data analysis components to match their preferred in-house database systems and extend their community engagement practices to provide a more comprehensive set of results.

We welcome the sector to share resources and tools that can be used in conjunction with the Tool to suit a Centre’s preferred approach. This may include resources on record and data management systems and successful community engagement strategies during the consultation phase.

Please click on the links below to see helpful resources that might assist your Centre with your community needs analysis:

Community Needs Analysis Infographic Template:

Community Centres SA has created a draft infographic template in Canva for Community Centres to use.  Please contact the CCSA team on if you wish to access it.

Further Information

Contact CCSA via or 8371 4622

“If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place.”