Needs assessments gather information from various sources to identify the needs of victims in a community and the resources available to help them. A gap analysis highlights where there are gaps between victim needs and available service responses, so that practitioners can strategically plan how to address those gaps.
As with all victim research, there are different types of needs assessments. Some focus on a single program within an organization, while others are broader in scope and aim to identify national trends. Needs assessments can occur at the national, state, or local levels.
Needs assessments often use existing data as well as new information gathered specifically for the assessment through surveys, focus groups, interviews, or other approaches.
Watch our quick animated video for an introduction to Community Needs Assessments.
Tools and Tips
Guide to Conducting a Needs Assessment (OVCTTAC). This guide, developed for service providers addressing human trafficking, will help users design a needs assessment, determine data collection methods, analyze and present data, and use the results for planning.
Assessing Community Needs and Resources (Center for Community Health and Development). This guide contains 24 sections detailing how to identify and assess community concerns, needs, and assets. This guide contains information on how to develop a plan for assessing local needs and resources; conduct needs assessment surveys; use small area analysis to uncover disparities; and many other valuable steps in conducting a needs assessment.
CVR Quick Guide: Community Needs Assessment, 2018 (Center for Victim Research). This two-page overview provides an introduction to community needs assessment, with tips for planning and conducting needs assessments.
CVR Quick Guide: Gap Analysis, 2018 (Center for Victim Research). This two-page overview provides an introduction to gap analysis, with tips for planning and conducting gap analyses. CVR has also created this Planning Sheet to guide gap analysis work.
Community Needs Assessments 101 (Center for Victim Research). This quick animated video provides an introduction to community needs assessments for victim service providers.
Victim Services Needs Assessments: Past Experiences and New Opportunities captures lessons learned by those who had recently conducted state level victim services needs assessments. CVR interviewed Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Administrators, researchers, and stakeholders regarding their experience.