community needs analysis

Table of Contents

Community Needs analysis booklet
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What is a CNA?

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Why complete a CNA?

Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses are inclusive places. They are 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.

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.

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 to adopt a systematic and evidence-based approach to collect and analyse information about their local population and their needs, as well as prioritise these needs for action.

CCSA's CNA Toolkit

The Community Needs Analysis (CNA) Tool was developed in 2019 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, providing valuable feedback in real time, that lead to the development of the final version.

The tool is intentionally simple and adaptable 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.

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

CNA Toolkit Online Course

This course is a guide for Community Centres, Neighbourhood Houses and community-based organisations to utilise the CNA Toolkit.

It includes further videos, handouts, scenarios and examples to help you build the confidence to complete a CNA for your community centre.

A 30% discount of the course price is included in your CCSA Membership! 

Community Needs analysis booklet
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Introduction: Community Needs Analyses

Step 1: Who uses the centre?

Step 2: Who lives in the community?

Step 3: Who are the under-represented groups?

Step 4: Conduct local engagement to understand community need

Step 5: Document feedback from local engagement

Step 6: Bring the results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses together

Step 7: Presenting the Information

Further CNA Resources

Undertaking community needs analyses will be an evolving practice for the sector. The CNA 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.

CNA Toolkit Templates

Below are the templates provided in our Community Needs Analysis Toolkit. Editable Word templates are available to download for some documents for your ease of use:

  • Table A – Comprehensive Centre User Data (PDFWord)
  • Table B – Summary Centre User Data (PDFWord)
  • Table C – Community Profile – Who Lives in the Community (PDFWord)
  • Table D – Options for Engagement (PDF)
  • Table E – Guiding Principles and Suggested Questions (PDF)
  • Table F – Notes from Community Engagement (PDFWord)
  • Table G – Priorities for Action (PDFWord)
  • Example Registration Form (PDF)
  • Example Suburb Form (PDF)
  • Example Position Description – Volunteer Community Facilitator (PDF)
  • REMPLAN Community Training Guide (PDF)

CCSA's CNA Infographic Template

Community Centres SA has created a draft infographic template in Canva for Community Centres to use. 

We recommend using infographics to help tell the story of your community centre and summarise your CNA. Infographics can be useful when explaining data to community centre users, volunteers, Board members, program funders and in grant applications. They make data accessible without having to digest numerous tables of information.

The infographic pictured here was developed using Canva and the template is available to you. You will need to create a free Canva account if you don’t already have one.

Example Canva infographic
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Further Information

If you have resources to share or questions to ask, contact CCSA via or 8371 4622