Community needs assessment survey

The United Way of Central Florida and the GiveWell Community Foundation are partnering to offer a comprehensive, “first-of-its-kind” community needs assessment survey. The non-profits are hoping people will take the time to fill it out, as the responses will help the organizations and others make decisions on how to prioritize funding.

“Everyone’s voice is important, and we want yours to be heard and included in this needs assessment. The more voices we can include in the survey, the more accurate and effective the needs assessment will be,” said Dave Walter, communications manager for GiveWell Community Foundation. “Community needs assessments are useful in setting strategic goals, appropriating funds, measuring impact, and making data-driven decisions.”

The survey is available online at

It will be available until March 31. It examines six different areas: economic opportunity and employment, housing, education, food security, transportation and infrastructure, and quality of life.

“We believe the results of this needs assessment will be very beneficial to anyone interested in improving the quality of life in our community, such as nonprofits, municipalities, service clubs, chambers of commerce, businesses, churches, and volunteers,” Walter said.  “By better understanding the strengths and challenges throughout our community, [they] can focus their efforts on addressing the most pressing needs.”

The non-profits are asking people 18 years old or older who live in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties to participate. The survey takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It’s available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. The organizations have created focus groups to help survey residents who can’t complete the survey online.

The survey has a variety of questions including some that address traffic concerns, access to daycare, whether people can find housing in their budget, if there’s enough support for the homeless, if people have enough food to eat, if they feel safe driving, whether they have reliable and affordable internet service, and if they feel elected officials are representing the community well. Both non-profits say the results could sway how they prioritize funding, with the possibility of adding new philanthropic initiatives or reallocating existing ones.

“It is important for people to speak up on behalf of themselves and their local community. We truly want to hear from people of all walks of life throughout Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties,” Walter said.

With the assistance of Q-Q Research Consultants, the information collected will be compiled into a report and made available to the community. Results are expected in the fall of 2022 and will be posted to the GiveWell Community Foundation and United Way of Central Florida websites. The results will also be shared at community meetings throughout the three counties.

The responses are kept anonymous, Walter said. Survey participants have the chance to win a $50 Visa gift card if they submit their email address.

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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