Asset Based Community Development

Strengthening and improving communities using existing assets, such as skills, knowledge, capacity, resources, experience, or enthusiasm

What is asset based community development?

Asset Based Community Development

Asset based community development (ABCD) is bottom-up community development which strengthens communities through identifying, recognising, and harnessing existing assets that individuals and communities have, such as skills, knowledge, capacity, resources, experience, or enthusiasm which can be used to strengthen and improve things locally.

Asset based community development takes the approach that the glass is half-full. Instead of looking at what a community lacks or needs, the approach focuses on utilising the assets that already exist. By doing so this approach facilitates the empowerment of individuals and the community in question by helping them to identify and share their strengths and then work together to create their own solutions and innovations.

Asset based community development is founded on the following principles:

  • Asking for ideas is more sustainable than giving preconceived solutions. Decisions should come from conversations with people from the community.
  • Everyone has gifts, and each person in a community has something to contribute.
  • Relationships build a community, and people must be connected for sustainable community development to take place.
  • Community members are colleagues and should be viewed as equals and not a recipients of assistance.
  • Public bodies involve others, as community development is strongest when it is based on a broad base of community action that places them in eventual control.

Traditional approaches to community development usually start with a local authority or housing association deciding that “something needs to be done” about a community that has been labelled as a problem area. A needs analysis or some other mapping exercise on the community is then carried out remotely with no input from the community itself. The entire focus is on the problems the community faces and any community strengths and other positive factors get overlooked. The control of the whole process resides with the local authority or housing association, and all solutions are identified by professionals who will never actually engage with them on a personal basis. Funding comes into the community for narrowly defined programmes facilitated by external professionals without any further input from the community itself.

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