Fair Trade Needs Assessment
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.
The 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.
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.
Watch this video in Spanish here.
Find links to some of the tools and resources that are used throughout the 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 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.
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 the Needs Assessment process and other program development activities.