Giving Compass' Take:

• Amira Diamond and Melinda Kramer share three community development strategies they have learned after years of working in the international development space. 

• What do community development leaders need from donors to advance comprehensive strategies working with local populations? 

• Read about some lessons in international development from 2018.

After working for decades in international development, we’ve learned a lot that applies to nonprofits of all kinds, especially those passionate about building resilient communities. Let’s begin by looking at how things can go sideways if you neglect the critical strategy of actually asking the community you serve what they want and need.

It’s a tragedy when nonprofits—with all the best intentions—end up actually making things worse for the communities they serve. In an attempt to not repeat these kinds of mistakes, Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) was founded by a group of 30 women leaders from around the world who wanted to write a new story.

In our work we identified three strategies to powerful, lasting results in community development projects:

  1. Community Leaders as Designers and Owners of their Future When availed access to vital resources, community leaders have the foresight, vision, and know-how to best design and implement solutions that last. What is most needed is to strategically support people to unleash and proliferate their firsthand knowledge and grassroots solutions.
  2. Stakeholders’ Agency Front and Center We realized early on that conventional development strategies often neglect to engage key stakeholders. Yet, the people most vulnerable to any crisis are actually best positioned to address on-the-ground impacts and challenges.
  3. Teams Rather than Silos For all of us engaged in making change, our work exists inside of an intricate and whole system of many parts and thinking about it that way helps to ensure long-term success. Every program your nonprofit undertakes should be co-designed by a team of local organizations and advisors—each bringing a diverse set of skills, networks, and resources. The result is a stronger, more dynamic, and more resilient offering.

Read the full article about community development strategies by Amira Diamond and Melinda Kramer at Blue Avocado