Who needs what? – Target groups and their needs

Target groups are individuals or groups (families, teams, organizations) that generally live in a geographically circumscribed area (thus, in cities, individual municipal or rural districts).

For the needs assessment, it’s important to describe the target group as precisely as possible.

The trick here is to avoid creating a target-group definition so broad that it becomes difficult to create a narrowly targeted project. At the same time, the group must not be so tightly drawn that the description hardly applies to anyone.

The following questions will help you in describing the target group:

  • Be aware! Many projects...

    ... act at multiple levels, and thus have more than one target group – for example, a project that cares for neglected children (target group 1) while at the same time lobbying for children’s rights (target group 2: politics and public).

  • Who are the members of the target group? How old are they?
  • What geographic area do they come from (a particular city neighborhood, a rural district)?
  • What is their social situation, family status, and/or education status? Do they have a migration background?
  • What is their financial situation? What problems are the target group facing? What are the group’s potentials and strengths?

Descriptions of the existing situation and needs often emphasize target groups’ problems and deficits. This is an obvious way forward, as most such projects are aimed at alleviating hardship. However, it is equally important to consider positive aspects. Therefore, you should ask:

  • What development opportunities does the target group have?
  • What strengths, talents and resources do its members possess?
  • What are target-group members’ wishes and hopes?


Illustration Schiffsbesatzung

In the target group description, it is useful to distinguish between direct and indirect target groups.

  • The direct target group includes the individuals you want to target in an unmediated way with your project activities, and among whom you want to achieve an effect. There may be subgroups within direct target groups, which requires further differentiation within your offering.

  • YEA and its diverse target groups

    Among YEA’s direct target group – disadvantaged children – some children may demonstrate a need for additional support. These children make up a subgroup.

  • The indirect target group includes persons in the general environment of the direct target group. They often contribute to the project’s success within the direct target group. Because they play an important intermediary role, indirect target groups should always be taken into account.
  • YEA and its diverse target groups

    In a mentoring project, for example, children belong to the direct target group, while their parents are part of the indirect target group.