To develop a club that is community-based and that helps the community, it is helpful to bring community members around a shared vision for the club and what the club will accomplish. While the steps outlined below are presented in a logical order, in reality, they may not follow sequentially, and some steps may be skilled or carried out simultaneously with other steps. The following sections contain activities and information that will guide you in following these steps.
1. LEARN ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
Whether you want to be an active member of the community, an effective service provider, or a community leader, you will have to be familiar with its issues, resources, needs, power structure, and decision-making processes. Your initial orientation could include attending community events, reading reports, and familiarizing with available services. Close observation of the community as you interact with it will also provide significant insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the community. Talk to others about their interests and perceptions. By listening to the community, you may identify an area in which there seems to be a common interest in making a change.
2. ASSESS COMMUNITY ASSETS AND RESOURCES, NEEDS AND ISSUES
To be able to work effectively in a community development context, you will need to gather some information about your community. It is helpful to undertake a comprehensive community assessment to collect both qualitative and quantitative data on a wide range of community features. Unfortunately, often time and budget restraints will necessitate choosing between methods and limiting the assessment to particular areas of interest. Deciding what and how much information to collect may be aided by a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the community, which may point to particular areas being higher priorities for action.
Some common methods for community assessment are listed below:
Compiling a community demographic profile. It is helpful to update the profile periodically to track changes that occur within the community and respond accordingly. A demographic profile includes statistical information about age, gender, language, minorities, education, and household income.
Other community statistics such as crime, morbidity and mortality, and housing.
Analyzing data that is collected, for instance, measuring the proportion of senior to youth in the community. Compare recent data available to identify rates of population growth, changes in ethno-cultural patterns, and age distribution.
Collect information about how residents perceive their community. Community surveys, asset mapping, environmental scans, focus groups, and key informant interviews are some methods of obtaining community data.
3. BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER TO DEVELOP A SHARED VISION
The purpose of a gathering is to develop a shared community vision through imagining participants’ ideal community. By discussing these ideas together, participants will arrive at a common vision and broad strategic directions that all are committed to working towards. You may also use this gathering to ask for support for the initiative, elicit community input, or invite members to join a committee or help in other ways.
Community members will define the issues and the processes for resolving them. It is the members of the community itself that are most familiar with the situation and, in many cases, have knowledge that external actors don’t have. By providing tools, resources, meeting spaces, and facilitation, field workers empower communities to start taking ownership over issues and the development of solutions.
4. DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN
In most circumstances, it will be necessary to create a ‘vehicle for change’, which in most cases will start as a steering committee. Depending on the circumstances, the nature of this group could range from a few unaffiliated individuals or a coalition of groups. There is a range of activities that the committee can undertake to plan, organize, implement, and evaluate the initiative effectively, including developing a charter or terms of reference, obtaining resources, and identifying potential partners.
Assuming that the community as a whole has set the strategic directions for the initiative, the committee can now develop the action plan. Depending on the size of the group and the complexity of the initiative, there may be other steps between setting the strategic directions and action plan. You may want to create short-, medium-, and long-term plans or plans for resource development.
It is often difficult to find reasonable and appropriate measures to understand the cost and time involved, especially when the desired outcome (such as in the case of prevention and capacity-building initiatives) may not be seen for several years. However, there are many reasons why it’s important to evaluate your work. You may want to demonstrate that you have not caused any harm to others through your actions and demonstrate the effectiveness of your initiative so it will be continued.
Allow time for the group to reflect on their work and think about how they want to continue. Thank everyone who has contributed and make sure there is good follow-up. Celebrate your successes and reflect on any disappointments that might have occurred. Discuss how well the processes worked.