Hello – Thanks for your question.
I’m not completely sure what baseline information you’re seeking. Baseline data is normally collected prior to or at the beginning of a project as an anchor to determine change over time. So, it would depend on what type of issue or program you’re interested in if you’re actually requesting baseline data. However, I’m guessing you might be interested in HOW to gather the data through a community assessment, rather than specific data itself. So…that’s how I’m going to answer this. I hope I’m on the right track!
A community assessment is a great place to start when you want to establish a baseline metric against which change will be measured over time for a particular issue or set of issues. There are a number of methods to use for a community assessment including compiling archival data (publicly available population-level data such as the census, data on incidence/prevalence of health or social issues, etc.), doing community or target group surveys, focus groups/community forums, interviews, and various participatory methods, such as Photovoice. Check out chapters 3-5 and toolkit 2 on the Community Tool Box (http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents). This information should help get you started if a community assessment is what you need.
Depending on what kind of information you collect through a community assessment, you should be able to update it from time to time to show the effects of programs to address whatever issue you target. But some data/indicators won’t change quickly – particularly those that you can usually find through archival data. That’s OK – keep those in mind as long-term indicators of population-level success and find short-term indicators to show changes due more directly to whatever programs/initiatives are implemented. You might also look at chapters 36-39 and toolkit 12 to find ideas on evaluating the effects of an initiative (see the link to the Table of Contents above).
I hope this helped answer your question. If not, feel free to ask another question!
Best wishes in your efforts for your community!