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NA TIG Week: Maurya West Meiers on Introducing Needs Assessment TIG Week and Identifying and Staying in Touch with Your Needs Assessment Stakeholders and Informants

My name is Maurya West Meiers. I work at the World Bank as a Senior Evaluation Officer and am coauthor of A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (available free here). This week’s blog postings are from members of the Needs Assessment TIG. Check out our TIG website for even more resources.

I’m writing about ways to identify and stay in touch with “hard to find” stakeholders and potential informants for your large scale needs assessments.

Lessons Learned:

Consider who might be your stakeholders and informants:

  • Primary. They typically have some direct relationship with the assessment (e.g., managers and employees, mayor’s office, neighborhood representatives, community members).
  • Secondary. They usually have a lesser or indirect relationship to the assessment, but should not be overlooked (e.g., residents from the neighboring community).
  • Experts and other informants. These people may have useful data to inform the assessment, but may not have a direct or even indirect relationship with it (e.g., experts in the field of study, database managers).
  • Research stakeholders. These are others who could benefit and learn from the results of your assessment (e.g., academics, policy makers). Be sure to publish your needs assessment methods and papers to build the needs assessment literature base.

How do you find your informants and stakeholders? And stay in touch with them throughout the assessment? Here are some high and low-tech ideas:

  • Websites are easy to build and provide a central place to share information about the assessment and resources.
  • Blogs allow you to share quick and informal updates – and to offer two-way engagement through comments.
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Flickr, Youtube, etc.) help you to connect to those interested in the assessment and build a following.
  • Mobile and text-message updates, or short ‘pulse’ surveys are becoming more common.
  • Community or organization meetings are the old standby, but essential.
  • Existing networks (such as community leaders, association representatives, etc.) allow you to find key people through snowball sampling.
  • Letters to stakeholders/groups help to get the word out formally.
  • Newslettersshould not be overlooked as a way to engage stakeholders.
  • Newspaper articles, television broadcasts, advertisements, and other media outreach are useful for broad outreach.
  • Posters, announcements or events in spaces visited by stakeholders (such as municipal buildings, libraries) are inexpensive and easy to create.
  • Street billboard announcements are common in many countries.
  • Radio broadcasts and call-in shows are especially effective in certain regions, such as Africa.

Rad Resources:

  • Many cities engage with community members about needs (especially of the “this should be fixed/addressed” communications) through social media services such as PublicStuff.
  • McKinsey Quarterly’s latest edition provides useful tips on Tapping the Power of Hidden Influencers.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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