Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-05-14 19:58:34
Help Where Help is Needed Community Needs Assessment Will Point the Way Lions recently were asked “How does your club choose projects?” on the LCI Facebook page. Of the 21 responses, 15 Lions commented that their clubs determine projects based on community needs. Lions are skilled at finding and addressing pressing needs in their communities. But what if community members have needs Lions aren’t aware of? Lions can answer that question by using the LCI Community Needs Assessment (CNA) questionnaire. The CNA helps Lions find out how you’re doing, reveal new service projects ideas and gauge the community awareness of your work. “Our club is over 40 years old with a stable, but aging membership. When the opportunity to look at ourselves and have the community tell us what and who they think we are came along, we jumped at it,” says Lion Jan Bassett of Elk Rapids, Michigan. Like many clubs, the Elk Rapids Lions are engaging in LCI’s Club Excellence Process (CEP), a workshop during which clubs can improve by examining their community’s needs, analyzing their membership experience and developing action plans. A component of that process, the CNA enables clubs to survey the community to find out what services are needed, what projects are important to them, whether current projects require modifications and which needs are being met by other organizations. “Clubs need to hear what the needs of the community are—from someone other than club members,” says Sue Doell, a Medina Dale Readfield Lion and CEP facilitator in Wisconsin. The Elk Rapids Lions distributed CNA questionnaires to friends, organizations, the village council, the chamber of commerce, schools and religious leaders. “Getting the questionnaires out was a great way to get people talking about us—and maybe learning why they should join us,” says Bassett. The De Pere Lions in Wisconsin also distributed surveys to schools, businesses and churches. “This opportunity became available to us at just the right time in order to identify new opportunities for our club,” says President Dave Gibson. Both clubs hoped for higher than the 15 to 20 percent response rates they had; however, they found the input they did receive valuable. A personal approach may improve the results, says Gibson. “Another club received a high response rate because they took time to personally visit each participant and talk about the assessment.” The clubs are in the process of creating action plans and developing long-term goals based on the CNA and CEP process. For the De Pere Lions, that may include starting a new project. “The schools that responded stated there is a need for a clothing drive,” says Gibson. The Elk Rapids Lions discovered something unexpected from their CNA. “We found out the community likes us, but few know what we do. We want to be known for finding needs and providing solutions with our service. At the top of our goal list is to become more visible,” stresses Bassett. Finding out the community’s familiarity with Lions is a common result of the CNA, explains Doell. “If anything, clubs will learn how well the Lions are recognized, or not, in the community. They may need to look at their public relations efforts.” The findings of conducting a CNA may be surprising, but they are always insightful. “It is very easy to get complacent and do what we have always done. The CNA gave us an opportunity to grow individually and as an organization,” says Bassett. Find out more about the Club Excellence Process at www.lionsclubs.org (search for “CEP”).
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Club+Improvement/1403157/159428/article.html.