Need Assessment for CSR Projects


Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) is a process in large Organisations where the Companies integrate Social and Environmental concerns in their Business. In some cases, Companies do this as mandated by Company laws and in some cases, it is an initiative by the Company. In either case, the management has to setup a separate committee, a governing body and a group of volunteers to look after the CSR function.

Planning & Need of Assessment: Before getting into the details of the CSR activities, proper planning is required along with the budget. The roles and responsibilities of the committee members should be decided and the first task of this initiative is need assessment for the CSR Project. Without assessing the exact needs of the community, the project doesn't remain sustainable and the impact also would be minimum. The socio-political impact, environmental issues, condition of infrastructure, health facilities, education awareness and level, availability of food and water, public transport &sanitation requirements are to be assessed before the CSR project kick-off.A thorough need assessment is required to make it effective for the community and to showcase the corporate philanthropy. The context of the initiative is important for the society at large to see the benefits.

Recurring Assessment: It is important to outline the pre and post project scenarios to make sure that the project is going to improve the community's social well-being after implementation. In many cases, this does not remain a one-time activity and the progress needs to be tracked along with the assessment of expected outcome. This means that the assessment is going to be a continuous process at frequent intervals. The change in community needs is also an important factor.

How to conduct Need Assessment?

There are multiple ways the Companies can conduct this need assessment. As the required skills, manpower and time may not be available with the Company, most of them prefer to approach a CSR consultant and conduct this assessment. Whatever is the method chosen for assessment, some basic steps are always required to be performed.

Research: Internet-based research is the first thing is today's World to start any new project and the same applies to a CSR Project also. With the ease of finding information on the internet, you need to find out all available information about the need of particular town, area, or community through various reports and news. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and you can always refer to the authentic reports created and published by Government or NGOs.

Talking to Individuals: Surveys are an important part of any social need assessments and talking to people on the ground is extremely important. Using your own volunteers to go on field and note down the question-answer sessions or recording them is going to provide some valuable feedback. Based on the location and availability of the internet, you can also use technology to capture the field data.

Talking to Groups: Focus Group discussions are an effective way to find out common issues like lack of Health facilities or scarcity of drinking water. You will always find local groups of politicians, activists, environment protection groups, etc. who will be working in the particular area and taking their views into consideration is important.

Use of available Assets: You should be aware of the assets like natural resources, manpower, environmental conditions, work already performed by other organisations or Government to resolve a particular issue, etc. This information strengthens your assessment needs in a way that you can use and map the assets in the benefit of the project and community.

Stakeholder engagement:There are multiple stakeholders involved in a community project. The funding Company, Local Government, Local politicians and most important are the community for which the project is going to be implemented. Involving all of them and engaging them is an important task for the success of the project.

To conclude, we can say that before starting any CSR project, one need to go through a detailed need assessment exercise. The need assessment also needs to be done at frequent intervals as human needs keep changing or after accomplishing some needs, there will be different needs. The prioritisation of this needs should be based on the community priorities. In short, the need assessment is going to be the key to the success of any CSR project.

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