Community Involvement: Identify Your Assets

Let the fun begin! Whichever way you choose to involve your community in asset identification, it should be a fun process!

Be prepared to give participants a simple overview of the concept of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), and let them know briefly about the categories of assets: individuals, associations, and institutions/businesses. It is usually easiest give a few examples, and ask people to start with the associations of which they, their friends and relatives are members.

Don't stop after one meeting, but do set a deadline. Encourage participants to continue to think about community assets, and make sure there is a way for them to follow up with new ideas. Ask people to be observant. Get out and walk in new neighborhoods, drive home a new way, or bike around your neighborhood for new ideas.

Create an asset map

Once you've identified your assets, it's time to produce an asset map: a diagram of resources created from the results of your identification process. A basic asset map will contain the following: the categories of assets, examples in each and connections between resources.

One of the easiest ways to design an asset map is to create a set of concentric circles, with individuals at the center, and associations, institutions, and businesses in the outer circles.

Download a sample community asset map

However you design your asset map, it should be large and visible to the public, or at least to your planning group, and something that could easily be added to throughout the planning process. Remember that an asset map is a work in progress. You should encourage people to continue to add to it over time.

Establish connections

ABCD is about connections. It's great that you know there is a senior center in your community, but you'll need to go a step further to be successful. Who knows someone there? How could you involve seniors in your project?

Referrals are typically the best way to make a connection. While some cold calling may be inevitable, it is much easier to get people interested and involved in your project if you have some type of personal connection to that individual or organization. Allocate time in your meeting to not only identify resources, but also to identify connections to them and ways in which they might be involved in your project.

The connection can be a personal connection - a relative, friend of a friend, neighbor, teacher, or student. Or, if the resource is a business or association, the connection could be an employee or member you know. Whatever the connection, be sure to reference it when you make your approach.