In this months blog post I want to outline the basic aims and process of an Imagine Projects community survey. One of our main specialisms
The primary aim of a community survey project is to find ways in which an organisation can serve the needs of its community (through identifying any shortfalls in provision). The best research projects deliver outcomes with the support of as many stakeholders as possible. Using the knowledge of professionals and local residents.
The aims of most community surveys are.
a: to deepen their understanding of the local area
b: to ensure that the research identifies real needs
c: to create a sense of local ownership and participation
d: Avoid duplication of provision
e: to give local people a say in the future of their community
f: to explore potential new areas of service
Having agreed the aims of a community survey with the client. The next phase is to confirm the approach. The approach I usually use is scoped to be as comprehensive as possible, identifying all relevant information and ensuring that the research questions asked are appropriate to the community. Normally we work through six phases with each subsequent phase building on the intelligence gleaned in the preceding phase and becoming more focused as we travel from phase to phase.
The phases are:
1: Inception Phase
2: Desktop research Phase 3: Stakeholder focus group 4: Community engagement 5: Final debrief with the client 6: Implementation
Phase 1: Inception meeting
The purpose of the inception phase is to lay strong foundations for the project by agreeing the scope of the research with key local stakeholders.
Phase 2: Desktop Research
The purpose of the desktop research phase is to give a context for the project, identifying demographics, key statistics, any obvious areas of strengths or weaknesses in the area and uncovering which agencies are already active in the region.
Phase 3: Stakeholder Focus Group
The stakeholder engagement phase translates the broad-brush strokes of the desktop phase into what is happening on the ground through the work/experiences of key corporate agencies in the area: what are the challenges that stakeholders face? What are the areas they think require investigation? What are the ideas they have for service development? What do they want to find out from individuals?
Phase 4: Community Engagement
The community survey, uses all this information to establish key areas of interest from individuals. It asks for their perspectives on a range of issues. When the answers to the questions are taken as a representative sample of the community, it can be a platform on which to develop policy and new services.
Phase 5: Final debrief This method of research results in action! Having collected all the information, there is a need to confirm our understanding of the issue(s) and explore potential projects, ensure that people are supportive of the ideas and begin to prioritise potential future projects.
The final report will be put together professionally so that it can be presented to prospective funders/investors in support of any applications.
Phase 6: Implementation
The research will encourage well crafted community projects that are desired by and aimed at transforming the local community.
This methodology also enables the organisation to deliver their mission whilst they engaged with the community through the project.