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Fair Trade Needs Assessment

Voting on Fair Trade Premium Use

What is a Needs Assessment?

Fair Trade USA™ established the Needs Assessment to help Fair Trade Committees determine how to best scope and establish projects using the Fair Trade Premium.

Importers or businesses selling Fair Trade Certified™ products pay an additional sum of money, called the Fair Trade Premium, that goes back to the producers at origin in the form of Community Development Funds. From there, it is the responsibility of the Fair Trade Committee, a group of democratically elected representatives, to manage and invest these funds to improve their lives and meet their unique individual and collective needs, as well as the needs of their communities and environments.

Launched in 2020 through an impactful 30-month grant from the Walmart Foundation and additional support from the Packard Foundation and ISEAL, the Needs Assessment Redesign (NAR) project resulted in a set of processes, trainings, and tools to help producers assess their needs, implement projects, and measure success. You can learn more about the NAR project and outcomes here.

Our Approach

The Fair Trade Needs Assessment is a consultation to identify the social, economic, and environmental development needs of Premium Participants, their families, and their community and must be conducted prior to using Community Development Funds.

It is also updated in the third year of certification and at least every three years thereafter, and/or when there is a significant change in Premium Participants.

As part of our Fair Trade Academy training program, we offer an online course that aims to provide tools to approach the process of the Needs Assessment from start to finish. Below is an overview of the six steps, along with sample tools.

Fair Trade Premium Participants

Fair Trade Needs Assessment Process

Define a strategy to evaluate your needs
Collect information from workers to get details on needs
Analyze the results from the needs assessment and propose ideas that will lead to solutions
Create your project plan and get it approved
Implement your project plan
Monitor and evaluate the project

Needs Assessment Overview

Watch this short video to learn about the six steps of the Needs Assessment and Premium Plan process.

Sample Resources

Find links to some of the tools and resources that are used throughout the Fair Trade Needs Assessment process below.

Step 1: Define a Strategy to Evaluate Your Needs

Guide to Define the Methodology

This tool is intended to guide Certificate Holders and the Fair Trade Committee in the selection of whether to apply a survey or conduct focus groups to undertake the Needs Assessment.

Step 2: Collect Information to Know Your Needs

Guide to Plan Data Collection via Survey

The purpose of this tool is to suggest a series of steps to support the Fair Trade Committeein collecting information, through the use of a survey, as part of the Needs Assessment process.

Guide to Plan Data Collection via Focus Group

This tool is intended to suggest a series of steps to support the Fair Trade Committee and the Certificate Holder in planning the collection of information through focus groups.

Step 3: Analyze the Results and Propose Solutions

Analyze Results from Needs Assessment

This video is intended to provide an overview of analyzing results from the Fair Trade Needs Assessment and proposing ideas that will lead to solutions.

Step 4: Create Your Premium Plan and Get Approval

Create Your Premium Plan and Get It Approved

This video is intended to provide an overview of creating a Premium Plan and getting it approved.

Step 5: Implement Your Premium Plan

Best Practices for Implementing the Premium Plan

This checklist will provide the Fair Trade Committee with a set of recommendations for the implementation of Premium Plan projects so that they can be aware of and anticipate key actions in the process.

Step 6: Monitor and Evaluation

Worksheet to Evaluate Your Premium Plan

This tool is intended to evaluate the progress of the Premium Plan to help you update it annually.

Ongoing Developments

Needs Assessment Independent Analysis

Fair Trade USA is committed to continuous improvement and learning. An essential component of one of our core values, Transformation, relies on learning, so we value external research and validation of our model and welcome the insights that comes from third party assessments. The findings from WUR support the ongoing development of Fair Trade USA’s Needs Assessment process and other program development activities.

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