Who needs what and why? – Needs assessment and context analysis


  • How to carry out a needs assessment and context analysis.
  • How to set project objectives.
  • How to develop a project approach.
  • How to create a logic model.

In order to plan your sea voyage (remember: this is your project!) properly, you need to know whether you’re sailing around the Caribbean or going on an expedition to Antarctica. Will you need a yacht or an icebreaker? What supplies should you bring, and how much in terms of provisions? And who will the passengers be – old sea hands or weekend sailors?

In short, the environment and the context in which you’re acting are important, as are the individual desires of the passengers (your target group).

Exactly the same thing is necessary when planning and implementing social projects. You must be familiar with the initial state of affairs, the project’s environment, and the needs of the target group.

A needs assessment and context analysis is useful in numerous ways. The most important reasons are as follows:

  1. It helps you budget your resources efficiently and effectively. Examining your environment, even with only moderate comprehensiveness, will tell you...
  • the points at which you can reach the Target groupA target group summarizes the specific individuals, groups or organizations for whose benefit a project is undertaken. target group
  • what other actors are active in the area, and
  • what those actors are already offering.
  1. It serves to bring all stakeholders on board.

    Stakeholders are persons, groups or institutions that are positively or negatively affected by a project and/or are able to influence it. Generally, there will be a large number of these. As a part of the context analysis, you can identify those who are most relevant to the project.
  2. It provides a reference point for the future impact analysis.

    With the data from the needs assessment and context analysis, you can create a BaselineInformation about the situation of the target group before the beginning of the project or program. This can serve as a reference point for evaluating future progress or for other comparative purposes. baseline, which you’ll need as a reference point for the data collected over the course of the project. Later, you’ll be able to use this reference point to determine whether, and if so, what concrete changes have taken place
  3. It legitimizes your work for the public and funders.

    With the help of a context analysis, you can always explain why and how you are addressing a very specific problem. This is particularly helpful when approaching funding providers, who often complain about vagueness in funding applications. Moreover, a context analysis may even help you discover potential funding providers that weren’t previously on your radar screen.

In short: With a needs assessment and context analysis, you can systematically collect and consolidate all the information you need for the project.

Conversely, without a needs analysis, you won’t be able to create a reasonable and realistic plan.

  • Timing – Choosing the right time

    A needs assessment and context analysis is always useful when conceiving a new project or expanding an ongoing project.

    Other good times include:

    • during project implementation (at regular intervals).
    • when your monitoring indicates that something isn’t going as planned.
    • if you’re considering expanding the project to other geographies or target groups.
    • when you want to broaden the project to include additional offerings.
  • While you are here...

    Great that you visit us on social-impact-navigator.org! We hope you like what you see, read and experience. We would very much appreciate your feedback on this website - just click here for a very short survey.