At a glance

Policy stage: 
Level of involvement: 
Length of process: 
Up to a year
Number of participants: 
Participant selection: 
Online / Offline: 
Mainly offline

Community Appraisals are surveys of local need and opinion about issues such as local housing, schooling, training, employment, culture, health, social welfare and community facilities.


Community Appraisal is a method that includes gauging the viewpoints of members of a community on particular issues. Appraisals may be conducted to form a plan of action to resolve an issue or improve existing services. Traditionally, they are citizen driven initiatives although they can also be organised by local authorities. Whilst all Community Appraisals will vary in their application, many will include the following steps:

  1. Form a steering committee to take an oversight role.
  2. Write up a questionnaire which is to be distributed to households and later collected. As an alternative, software such as ‘Village Appraisals for Windows’ can be used instead of the paper option.
  3. Sort the responses and compile a report of the findings.
  4. Distribute the report throughout the community to citizens and to decision-makers in local authorities. Attempts can also be made to convince the local media to discuss the issues raised by the report.
  5. Agree on actions to be taken that address the concerns raised by the report with the relevant bodies.
  6. Monitor developments and report back to the community with information about the progress of the initiatives.


Councils in particular use Community Appraisals to involve local citizens.  Usually, Community Appraisals are open to everyone in a community.



  • Training for staff (if organised by a council)
  • Organisational costs e.g., venue hire for meetings
  • Report publication and distribution
  • Software (optional)

Approximate time expense


  • The process itself can take up to a year since it requires breadth in its application.
  • It will take time to distribute and retrieve the questionnaires, given the number of people involved. Compiling and publishing a report based on the results may also be a lengthy process.
  • The feedback stage may not occur until a year after the initial process since it will take time to assess changes, if any.


  • You can discover what the needs of the whole community are
  • Residents can gain in confidence and skills
  • Encourages communicative thinking


  • Too many conflicting interests
  • Lengthy process


They began in rural areas to address common issues, but have since spread to urban areas.

Photo credit Brian Glanz: Flickr (CC BY 2.0)