Online Courses

Click here to view the HP101 online course, orginally developed collaboratively by the Ontario Health Promotion Resource Centres and updated in 2016 by Public Health Ontario.

OHCC developed the following online courses to assist you in your Healthy Communities work. They have been divided into easy to follow modules, and offer a variety of exercises, quizzes, case studies and resources. 

Click the titles to begin working through the course!


Collaboration and Partnerships for Healthy Communities


The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition and Joan Roberts are pleased to present the online edition of Collaboration and Partnerships for Healthy Communities. Collaboration is a value and activity in which most health promoters and community activists now participate.  This course is designed to help you, the practitioner, engage in and support the work of collaboration more effectively.

We hope this course will assist you in become a successful collaborator if you are considering the development of a new collaboration or have been a member of one for many years.

This project was made possible by funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion.

 Reproduction – Commons License Agreement 

Permission to copy this resource is granted for educational purposes only. If you are reproducing in part only, please credit Joan Roberts & The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents: 

Module 1 - Introduction

Module 2 - Determining the need

Module 3 - Motivation to Collaborate

Module 4 - Identifying the members-Who should belong?

Module 5 - Collaborative Planning

Module 6 - Building an Organization

Module 7 - Evaluating Effectiveness  



Module 1 - Introduction

Collaboration is like Teenage Sex Because…

  • everyone is talking about it all the time
  • everyone thinks everyone else is doing it
  • those who are doing it are:
                       -doing it poorly
                       -sure it will be better next time
                       -not practicing it safely
  • everyone is bragging about their successes all the time although few have truly experienced succes
  • done right it multiplies.

Deb Wells

 Non-profit organizations, community revitalization and health promotion processes are now engaging very frequently in multi-organizational processes to solve complex social problems. Researchers have identified failure rates of multi-organizational initiatives in the private sector at around 50%.  Without comparable research in the community based sector, and with more complex issues it is safe to assume similar or lower rates of success.  Anecdotally we hear from our colleagues and students, high rates of dissatisfaction and disillusion with collaborative efforts.  Social change agents express cynicism with government’s incentives to collaborate while providing little investment in capacity building and vague disclosures of expectations of system rationalization and cost reductions.  Yet despite all the barriers communities and organizations are continuing to invest scarce resources jointly to develop innovative approaches to difficult social issues.

 Over time, practitioners like us have developed practical tools and frameworks that help move multi-organizational processes closer to success.  We are pioneers exploring new territory. Over time we observed the nature of the terrain and we are now aware of the geography, the hills and valleys of building relationships across organizational boundaries.  The 6 step framework is a road map substantiated by research and practical experience of building programs and social change campaigns delivered through collaboration.

This course has six modules, one for each step in the collaborative development process. They are described briefly below:

Step 1
Determining the Need

Step 2
Motivation to Collaborate

Step 3
Identifying the members- Who should belong?

Step 4
Collaborative planning

Step 5
Building an Organization

Step 6
Evaluating Effectiveness

Six Step Development Framework adapted from Joan Roberts, Alliances Coalitions and Partnerships: Building Collaborative Organizations, New Society Publishers,2004.

A Six Step Development Framework

Each module provides information on what the step entails, how-to tips for most effective implementation of the step, and links to additional supporting resources.

In the non-profit and government sector many funding programs demand that social agencies work in partnership because it is seen as way to reform government service delivery. But collaboratives are more complex than a single organization and need to be created from scratch, a very resource heavy process.  They should not be created as matter of philosophy but considered carefully.

Some examples of collaboratives in the Non-Profit Sector include:
  • Health-intersectoral collaboration such as substance abuse prevention projects involving police, educators and service providers.  
  • Environmental collaboration processes- Governments are creating them for more effective land and forest management.
  • Community economic revitalization processes.
  • Human services delivery partnerships- including services for children, youth and seniors.
  • Advocacy coalitions-Tobacco Control Bylaws  came about this way



When we speak about collaboration there is widespread agreement that the term refers to a group of people working together to reach a common goal. Within this definition, collaboration can describe a group of people working within an organization or external to an organzation. For this course, we are using the term collaboration to refer to inter-organizational collaboration, a coming together of separate organizations although there may be individual members participating on their own behalf.  Often the terms partnership, coalition and alliance are used to describe these joined up organizations. The names are often used interchangeably in the NPO sector and can range from more loosely organized to more formal structures.

The Collaborative Continuum

Module 1: Exercise 1 - Matching

Print the following page and match the columns exercise link to correct answers.

Click here to see the answers






a distinct form of co-operation between autonomous, self-governing organizations who work together in order to achieve a common goal.



facilitate the engagement of diverse sectors to work collaboratively over the long term in order to tackle a wide range of interrelated issues. They encourage partnering and collaborative work, including alliances among disciplines, sectors, and community members that impact whole systems to effect neighborhood and city-wide change processes, often undertaking whole community or inter-sectoral strategic planning.




involves sharing knowledge, expertise, and innovation between organizations in the areas of services and solutions to social problems. This term is used interchangeably to describe a collaborative but is used most often in the private sector




The combining of two or more organizations into one. In the NPO sector this would involve the union of 2 boards of directors into one and one name for the new legal entity.


most often it is oriented toward advocacy in the public interest, and is especially favoured by health-promoters to achieve community-level interventions in such areas as social marketing or advocacy. Used interchangeably with alliances and partnerships to describe a collaborative.





is a technical term to describe supra-systems that consist of separate autonomous organizations that span organizational boundaries. It functions as more than the sum of its separate constituents by enabling decision-making and task-performance on behalf of member groups, who retain autonomous identities and goals.



is a new entity (trans-organization system) formed between two or more parties to undertake project activity together. These parties agree to jointly contribute resources, and share revenues, expenses, and control, throughout the duration of one specific project only, or as an ongoing relationship.  The private sector uses this term.



a term more favored by government and can include loosely organized consultation processes to service delivery collaboratives controlled by contractual agreement. In the business sector, collaborative members often avoid this term because of its legalistic connotations (especially related to liability). The terms alliance and coalition are used interchangeably to describe a collaborative.




refers to the structure created by collaboration prior to the creation of a formal inter-organizational structure. Considered an emerging form of collaborative organization.



Module 1: Exercise 2: Benefits and Challenges to Working Collaboratively

Most non-profit organizations have concluded that they cannot ‘go it alone’. They have discovered that they need to establish collaborative relationships in order to stretch their resources further, to create complex strategies to address complicated social issues and to comply with funder expectations.  Along with many benefits unique challenges to this form of organization emerge.  

Individual brainstorm:

 Using your experience or what you have heard or read from others, identify at least 7 benefits and challenges to working collaboratively.

Click here to view the answer sheet.




















Module 1 - Resources and Suggested Readings

Elaine Forbes, Cynthia J. Manson (2007). Innovate, Collaborate or Die: • How to Create an Alliance or Merger for a Stronger, More Effective Non-Profit, Civil Sector Press
Francie Ostrower, The Reality Underneath the Buzz of Partnerships, The potentials and pitfalls of partnering, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2005

Joan Roberts and Pauline O'Connor. ( 2007) Inter-Agency Service Collaboration in the NPO Sector - Report Overview
Download at:

Joan Roberts, (2004) Alliances Coalitions and Partnerships: Building Collaborative Organizations, New Society Publishers.

Elisa Weiss, Ph.D., Rebecca Miller, MPH, and Roz Lasker, M.D.  (August 2001) Findings from the national study of partnership functioning: Report to the partnerships that participated.
The Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health
Division of Public Health
New York Academy of Medicine
New York, New York
Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health (

Module 2 - Step 1: Determining the need for a collaborative and exploring the problem set

What problems are surfacing in our environment that we cannot resolve by ourselves?

The Current Environment for Non –Profit Organizations (NPOs)

1. What is driving the movement towards inter-organizational collaboration in government and the non-profit sector?

•    Global capitalism which has created huge economic and population shifts. This impacts the NPO sector because whole segments of populations become marginalized and live under the poverty line.A United Way study, called Losing Ground released Nov. 26, 2007, suggests the number of families living in poverty in Toronto is increasing, sharply. The United Way of Greater Toronto says 30 per cent of Toronto families, amounting to about 93,000 households, are living in poverty. A similar study in 1990 showed about 16 per cent of families in the same situation.

•    NPOs then try to fill the gaps with programs and services.  When gaps emerge that can’t be filled by one organization agencies are motivated to work with others.

•    Technology makes inter-organizational collaboration easier than ever before. Broadcasting an e-mail to announce a meeting its time and location  can take only minutes. Some readers will not know what this means.

•    Ever increasing societal complexity leads to an Ingenuity Gap ( title of a book by Thomas Homer Dixon) -problems are so complex we  need  bring in others to  problem solve.

•    Demographic shifts are creating labour shortages. NPOs have to collaborate to recruit necessary workers.
•    Linear planning does not produce solutions that take into account all the different aspects of a problem.   Non-linear approaches to planning, are necessary.   Planning becomes a process of assembling a jigsaw puzzle.  When each piece is put in place, a new picture is created that requires a new set of perspectives and resources to figure out the next step.

•    The search for new possibilities in the current situation is more important than drawing on expert conceptual knowledge.

2. What problems are unsolvable by a solitary organization?

Russell Ackoff, one of the originators of systems thinking, calls the intractable problem sets we face in our chaotic environment “Meta Problems and Messes”.  Meta Problems are the set of all problems that make up a single problem this doesn’t make sense to me – are they a set of subproblems that make up a large/complex problem? An example might be useful to help the reader understand-- the one you have to solve.   For instance the problem of a community that is experiencing a housing shortage  can be due to a number of interrelated problems such as a shortage of developable land, the cost of building materials, a strike in a construction trade and  and a slow moving approvals process at City Hall.  When all of these problems happen at the same time you have a problem set. All the problems within the set of problems have fairly clear solutions Whereas Messes are not - merely problems. Problems have solutions. Messes do not have straightforward solutions.

Social messes:

  • are more than complicated and complex. They are ambiguous.
  • contain considerable uncertainty – even as to what the conditions are, let alone what the appropriate actions might be.
  • are bounded by great constraints and are tightly interconnected, economically, socially, politically, technologically.
  • are seen differently from different points of view, and quite different worldviews.
  • contain many value conflicts.
  • are often a-logical or illogical.

Messes are the meta problems of homelessness, drugs and gangs, ethnic  and national conflict and Messes have strong links to i not very well planned government policies,  globalization, civil wars, international population shifts and the rapid advance of technology.  Homelessness as a social mess, was created by government policies that deinstitutionalized people with mental health issues without an adequate community support system to replace it, by structural economic changes which reduced the number of jobs with decent wages, to the cessation of government housing policies in the early 90’s. To rid our society of homelessness, many different government players need to bring about  major policy and program changes.  

Types of problems: The Nature & Conceptualization of Problems

Brenda Zimmerman is a complexity researcher at York University. She developed a way of looking at problems. She finds there are basically three types of problems characterized by the nature of the solutions required.

When we apply this conceptual framework to the collaboration field it  leads us to observe that what Ackoff called Meta problems and Messes and what Zimmerman calls complex problems lead a change agent to  look outside outside of one’s own organization for additional resources.  Building an understanding of the whole picture in order to mobilize new understanding and additional resources becomes the motivation to collaborate with outside organizations.

A collaborative may be required when several stakeholders have a vested interest in the problems and are willing to work together to find solutions. A collaborative is even more appropriate if there is a history of incremental or sporadic efforts to deal with the problem set that have not produced satisfactory solutions and the problem seems to be unsolvable or exasperatingly persistent. 




Solution example: Following a recipe to bake a cake

Building a rocket to get to the moon

Raising a child to become an effective a member of society

  • The recipe is essential


  • Formulae are critical and necessary


  • Formulae have only a limited application
  • Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts


  • Sending one rocket increases assurance that next will be ok


  • Raising one child gives no assurance of success with the next


  • No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success


  • High level of expertise in many specialized fields + coordination


  • Expertise can help but is not sufficient; relationships are key



Questions that help you determine a mess form a simple problem

  1. Who are the players?
  2. Who has responsibility or ownership of the problem?
  3. What are the individual problems?
  4. What are current initiatives to address the problems?
  5. What are the causes of the individual problems?
  6. What are the constraints or barriers to building solutions?
  7. What might be the underlying systemic issues?
  8. What are the values and motivations of the system participants?

Tools to Scope out the Problem:

All members of the collaboration eventually need to have the same mental model of the mess. Prior to even asking people to join together, it is prudent to explore the problem set. Problem exploration tools include environmental scanning, scenario building and literature reviews.

 A collaboration may be a good problem solving strategy when several stakeholders have a vested interest in the problems and are willing to work together developing solutions. A collaborative is even more appropriate if there is a history of incremental or sporadic efforts to deal with the problem set that have not produced satisfactory solutions and the problem seems to be unsolvable or exasperatingly persistent.

Environmental Scans

An environmental scan is a tool or an approach to determine the trends opportunities and threats that are happening outside of an organization. The environmental focus can be as broad as the what is happening across the entire world to what is happening in the zone just outside of the organization. This area could be limited to the activities of funders, clients and other agencies. Environmental scanning tools can be as simple as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) exercise to activating a newsbot on the internet to monitor internet traffic and exposure on a trend or topic. Executive Directors and change agents help manage the constant change in the NPO environment by scanning the environment as a day to day activity of the organization. Board members are anther valuable resource to an agency to help keep an eye on the pulse of a community.



SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face in deciding whether a   collaborative is the best route.



  • What advantages do you have?

  • What do you do well?

  • What relevant resources do you have access to?

  • What do other people see as your strengths?







  • What could you improve?

  • What do you do badly?

  • What should you avoid?



  • Where are the good opportunities facing you?

  • What are the interesting trends you are aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from such things as:

  • Changes in technology  on both a broad and narrow scale

  • Changes in government policy related to your field

  • Changes in social patterns, population profiles, life style changes, etc.

  • Local Events






  • What obstacles do you face?

  • What is your competition doing?

  • Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?

  • Is changing technology threatening your position?

  • Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

  • Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your organization?


Scenario Building

Scenario planning is tool whereby the planner connects the dots (pieces of data) gleaned from the external environment and walks through the implications of these dots on the system- be it an organization, sector or community.   The planner notices a trend and then imagines the impact and possibilities on their organization or an issue. Scenarios are stories rather than a prediction.  There are always positive and negative possibilities that can happen so we get the terms worst case and best case scenarios.

You never know when opportunity can arise out of a bad situation. To most of us, a forest fire is a pretty bad scenario; but not to certain types of beetles. Some beetles have special infrared receptors that can detect the heat from a forest fire. When they discover the aftermath of a forest fire, they move right in and lay their eggs in the forest. They know that when the eggs hatch, the larvae can feed off of the dead wood.

 In the world of nature there are countless examples of how good comes from something we perceive as bad. I suppose it is only bad because we want something other than the result we got. When we look at a situation calmly and sum up what is really going on, perhaps there is really some good in it and we can use this to our advantage.

(Source: Bleckmann, H.J., Schmitz, H. and von der Emde, G., Nature as a model for technical sensors, J. Comp. Physiol. A., 190:971-981, 2004.)

Thinking through possible scenarios by oneself or with others is a key strategic thinking and leadership skill set for finding solutions to complex problems sets. By thinking through scenarios that might emerge for the problem,  you will surface questions and possible answers to key development questions such as who holds the puzzle pieces needed to explore the problem and who might be good members for a collaborative approach to problem solving.

Pop up

For a comprehensive learning guide to scenario building for non-profits download: What if? The art of scenario thinking for non-profits from


What is a literature review?

NPO practitioners are increasingly planning a new program or intervention with a review of the academic literature.  A literature review can also become the knowledge foundation or a jumping off point for a group learning process. If there is a report that scans and presents succinctly the existing knowledge and perspectives already known on a problem set, it can help all the members of a collaborative quickly get up to speed on the topic. 

It is a way to:

  • Compare studies and know “what’s out there” on a specific topic
  • Analytically examine existing body of research
  • Identify an article that documents a particular fact
  • Bring order out of too much information spread across too many places

Why do a literature review?

  • Put your work in context and know what others ‘out there’ are doing
  • Discover ‘best practices’ & ‘worst nightmares’
  • Support and justify grant proposals, new programs, interventions, evaluations, presentations, staff development
  • Give your work credibility
  • Fulfill intellectual and personal curiosities

Orientation outside of one’s own organization

At some point early on in the process of issue exploration comes the point of acknowledging that one’s own organization does not have the capacity to solve the problem. Whether because of the size, the complexity of the problem or the lack of resources, one understands that one cannot act alone. The knowledge and resources found in a single organization is often inadequate to tackle the problem set.

Thus the intelligence gathering and sharing of many organizations might provide the additional knowledge needed to produce a more effective response to a problem set such as homelessness or poverty.  And this awareness leads a change agent and their organization to decide to work outside existing organizational boundaries.

Module 2 Resources


Homer-Dixon, Thomas, (2000) The Ingenuity Gap, How Can We Solve the Problems of the Future?   New York, Alfred A Knopf.

Robert Horn, David and Lucille Packard Foundation July 16, 2001Knowledge Mapping for Complex Social Messes Download at:

Mary O'Hara-Devereaux, Navigating the Badlands: Thriving in the Decade of Radical Transformation John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004.

Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Quinn Patton. 2006. Getting to Maybe: How the World has Changed. Random House Canada.

Marie Boutillier, Pauline O'Connor, Tom Zizys, Joan Roberts, Krista Banasiak ( 2007) Does Collaborative Service Delivery Improve Client and Organization Outcomes? A Review of the Evidence on NPO Collaboration in Health and Social Services,Wellesley Institute.  Download at

Tom Zizys  ( 2007) Collaboration Practices in Government and in Business: A Literature Review, Wellesley Institute. Download at

What if? The art of scenario thinking for non-profits from

Module 3 - Step 2: Motivation to Collaborate

The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, "We did it ourselves."  -- Lao Tzu

Motivation to Collaborate

Collaborative processes don’t gain momentum unless potential participants see a benefit from the investment of their time and energy. 

In the Inter-Agency Services Collaboration Project (IASCP), the authors found that the motivation and perception of benefit  for many organizations in the NPO sector comes the difficulty of dealing with complex social issues or pressing gaps in service delivery that need to be addressed.

In one of the reports, the East Scarborough Storefront Project: A successful inter- organizational service collaboration, the notion of “overwhelming need” motivated  the initial community agencies and community activists to collaborate.   A new population consisting of refugees with few supports moved into short term housing in this suburban community and the need for services was so apparent that community members mobilized and invited in existing agencies to collaborate to provide services.  -

Motivation to collaborate emerged as critical element in another IASCP project, the Korean Interagency Network (KIN) process. Participants keenly expressed their anxiety over the sustainability of their organizations and concern over their communities to equitable access to public resources in one of the planning sessions. Participants and observers noted that mainstream and larger organizations that were members of KIN did not feel compelled to participate.  Many thought that they did not share the same issues that motivated the other participants to collaborate.  

In another report for the IASCP project: Service Delivery Collaboration in the Toronto NPO Sector A Key Informant Survey by Heather Graham, the respondents reported that mandated collaborations are generally viewed as not sustainable – but not because of lack of resources so much as the lack of commitment to the issue; they aret seen more as opportunistic than having a genuine committtment to the problem.  So when funders build incented partnership programs, the motivation to participate by agencies is to secure the funding rather than deal with a complex problem or mess .

In another IASCP report: Service Delivery Collaboration in Nonprofit Health and Community Services What does Government Want, the author Rob Horwath surfaced a widespread view within government circles and documented in public reports, that collaboration is seen as tool to improve service delivery systems. Yet, policy supports to facilitate inter-organization collaboration are few and exist primarily at the municipal level. Most importantly, provincial supports do not exist even though this is the level of government where NPOs receive 80-% of their funding to provide community based health and social services. The preceding paragraph needs tobe re-worded more simply.

Throughout the IASCP research process, respondents  in the key informant study and round table reported their suspicion of the motivation of funders when they develop collaboration funding programs.  Without support to build the inter-organizational capacity needed to address the complex territory of collaboration and government’s  veiled efforts to downsize and streamline delivery systems, NPOs and Government funders seemed to be working at cross purposes. I assume this is the repondents’ view – it should be more clearly stated to reflect the speaker – this is not OHCC’s position; we have had numerous positive relationships with government funders who were supportive of our collaborative efforts

 The IASCP project reports documented the commitment to tackling difficult social issues despite the lack of funding for bottom up initiatives and the lack of capacity in the NPO sector. Many NPO organizations and their leadership are continuing to embark on new collaborative ventures to tackle the social messes that they are mandated to address.

And within that commitment, it always takes one person in one organization to say “lets step outside of our organizational boundaries and work with others to find a new strategy for this complex problem”.  This person if empowered to go forward, assumes the convening role.

The Convening Role


This role is one of the most difficult roles of an NPO leader. 

One might be a good manager but a terrible convener. Whereas a manager or a director has the ability to use coercive power to motivate people to assume work tasks, the convener of a collaborative has no formal authority over other members of a collaborative.  Influence and persuasion skills are critical and the process of enrolling people to sign onto a new collaborative venture can feel like having one’s teeth pulled. A convener has to summon up the vision and enthusiasm to act as a counterforce to NPO leaders who are overwhelmed with paperwork and need to respond on a moment’s notice to what seem to them, irrational decisions like cutbacks and administrivia requirements  by decision makers.  A convener’s personal leadership style needs to be more lateral in nature than the leadership style needed in hierarchical organizations   And yes, most NPOs are still organized hierarchically because their funders require it. However since so much NPO work is focused on building relationships NPO Managers may have a leg up on their private sector counterparts.



Sector managers hail themselves

By Andy Ricketts, Third Sector, 20 June 2007  
Voluntary sector managers think they have significantly better political skills, such as developing partnerships and strategy, than private sector leaders.

A survey of almost 1,500 managers by the Chartered Management Institute revealed that third sector managers rated their skills at building alliances at an average of 4.04 out of five, whereas private sector bosses rated themselves at 3.89. Charity managers gave themselves 4.09 for strategic direction, compared with 3.94 in the private sector.

Mike Petrook, public affairs manager at the institute, said: "Charity managers have much more exposure to partnership development because it is so important to build up relationships in order to succeed."

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of chief executives body Acevo, said other sectors could learn from charity leaders. "Third sector leaders must have the political acumen to manage negotiations with the board as well as managing staff and public image," he said.

from a British study - referred to at

The principal task of a convener is to recruit the members of the potential collaborative. The convener can be one person or can be members of a steering committee.  The invitation to participate needs to address the issue of motivation and benefits to collaborating.  When enrolling participants conveners need to identify and work with the self interest of their target members.  This sets a tone of authenticity and honesty to establish a collaborative of mutual benefit.  Since the collaborative has no structure to begin with, the convener and members establish a process of co-creating a new organizational structure (a trans-organizational system).  However, self interest does not lead the development of a common purpose for a new collaborative. If the collaborative is formed to seek a funding opportunity as we saw earlier, people will take the money, form a collaboration in name only and go back to what they were doing before. An appeal to higher ideals and the common good is necessary to sustain the work over the long term and develop the complex solutions to social messes that come from commitment and hard work.

A convener may assume the chairing role once meetings start, but this does not need to happen automatically.  Someone must assume the co-ordination activities of organizing and scheduling the first meeting so the convener or convening committee usually assumes that responsibility. Whether the convener continues to provide co-ordination or leadership is an issue the group needs to decide early on in the process.  Some personality types are really good networkers and are able to bring diverse people and organizations together. However they have poor co-ordination and management skills and thereby fail to undertake the ongoing co-ordination needed to keep up the momentum of an emerging group. Groups are wise to discuss the issue and find ways to complement the skills of its members rather than assume the person who called the initial meeting will do all the support work from them on. 

The process of identifying and selecting those desired members is explored in Step 3.

Another term and role that the convener sometimes assumes  is champion.  Many leadership experts see this role or aspect of leadership as necessary to make large system change.  These experts think that a leader is necessary to develop a vision of a desired future or a solution to the problem, to communicate it in order to inspire others to join in and implement the vision.    Definitely a well communicated problem definition and possibilities for a common strategy is necessary to convince participants to join a collaborative process however if  there is no opportunity to explore the problem and discuss strategies and solutions that incorporate members’ perspectives, the collaborative will not survive. A collaborative has the potential to function democratically as each member has one vote or the power to vote with their feet and disengage.   When pulling people together convenors should champion the collaborative, not their vision.  There is power in defining the problem and defining the appropriate solutions. When one person’s (or organization’s) interpretation and ideas get all the say, others shy away.

 Lubricating the mechanisms of the group mind so that it can think and act brilliantly demands emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman ( Goleman, p 204)


Reflection Questions for taking on the Convening Role

  1. Does addressing the issue fall within the mission and mandate of my agency?

  2. What might be the outcome on our clients?. Would they get better service?

  3. Can my agency develop a program without the help of other organizations? Do we have the skills and funding?
  4. Is a collaborative process the best mechanism to formulate a solution to the issue?
  5. Is there enough good will and trust amongst potential members to overcome the tension of being competitors at times?
  6. What is the likelihood of other organizations getting involved? Do they care about the issue? Do they have a mandate to address it?  Is there competition for their time and attention? Is a big event or transition coming up that might deflect time and resources from the focus of the collaborative?
  7. Do I and or my staff have the time available to devote to this process?

  8. Will potential funders look upon the collaborative favourably?
  9. What would be the possible interventions that would address the problem set? What combination of agencies/people and skills would be needed to support the possible interventions?
  10. What might be some possible benefits to my organization, my sector and or community? What kinds of challenges might emerge?

Once the above questions are answered you will have a better understanding of the likelihood of success. If the answers don’t show overwhelming benefits and possible support from potential members consider alternatives such laying a foundation of trust building or waiting for better conditions to emerge.

Personal Commitment

Collaboratives, because of their potential for power sharing, are a different kind of organization than those of our workplaces.  Participating and leading in a collaborative requires different skills and leadership approaches. This is not always apparent to all members and unless there is open and honest communication about expectations around leadership and participation most people revert to what they know. In our  society, employees  and managers know best how to behave in hierarchical organizations often where the boss is treated as a supreme ruler because of the coercive power and formal authority that come with the position of manager.

But in a collaborative, formed on a voluntary basis where no-one has coercive power, when everyone around the table is a volunteer, traditional leadership skills such providing direction and communicating expectations just alienates others.

A style called Lateral Leadership is needed. 

What are the characteristics of Lateral Leadership?

Anyone with or without a title at any time can provide this kind of leadership, The power sourced with this kind of leadership is usually informal such as the power to influence and persuade. You need to be able to communicate and convince without having coercive power as every participant is free to exercise the power to walk.

Many of the skills of lateral leadership are synonymous with adult learning principles and many are the skills we associate with organization development or change management. Some of the skills associated with these characteristics are influencing and persuading, critical thinking, effective questioning, and decision making.

Lateral leadership requires a high level of competency of emotional intelligence – is this the same as emotional literacy. By working with the emotional as well as the rational, a leader (in whatever role) can build trust with others.

Competencies for Emotional Intelligence:

Self-awareness. Building a vocabulary for feelings; knowing the relationship between thoughts, feelings and reactions; knowing if thought or feeling is ruling an action. 

Decision-making. Examining actions and knowing their consequences; a self-reflective view of what goes into decisions.

Managing feelings. Monitoring ''self-talk" to catch negative messages such as internal put-downs; realizing what is behind a feeling (e.g. the hurt that underlies anger). 

Self-concept. Establishing a firm sense of identity and feeling esteem and acceptance of oneself.

Handling stress. Learning the value of exercise, guided imagery, and relaxation methods.

Communications. Sending "I" messages instead of blame; being a good listener.

Group dynamics. Cooperation; knowing when and how to lead, when to follow.

Conflict Resolution. How to fight fair and apply the win-win model for negotiating compromise

Adapted from Daniel Goleman (2000) Working with Emotional Intelligence

Exercise1 : Questions for Personal Reflection

Questions for Personal Reflection:

Think about a time when you faced a stressful situation at work.  Record some of the physical symptoms that you experienced.

Write down the emotions or behaviors that you normally exhibit when you are faced with a stressful situation (note typical patterns).

What effect, if any, do these outward emotions or behaviors have on your performance?

What effect, if any, do these outward emotions or behaviors have on others?  And, how do you know?

Name ONE behavior that you currently exhibit under stress that people around you would notice immediately if you changed it.


Lateral Leadership is also about making space for others to assume their power and voice

  • Affirm the ability of those members that may be at risk of marginalization
  • Provide those members with opportunities to participate in the work and assume a challenge
  • Emphasize that learning comes through on the job learning and that competence increases through doing and trying
  • Affirm a sense of belonging
  • Value multiple perspectives
  • Evoke diverse role models for the entire group
  • Provide constructive feedback through questions rather than judgments

 (Roberts, P 170)

Module 3 Resources

Sharon King and Larry Petersen, (2007) Bridging Boundaries: Lessons from Leaders: Starfield Consulting Download at

Daniel Goleman, (1995) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books.

Daniel Goleman, (2000) Working with Emotional Intelligence Bantam Books.

Joan Roberts, (2004) Alliances Coalitions and Partnerships: Building Collaborative Organizations, New Society Publishers. Chapter  10.

Module 4 - Step 3: Identifying the members: Who should belong?

Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
- Peter Drucker

All organizations do knowledge work!

1) Organizations must have a system principle or a reason for being-a purpose. In the case of a family, the system principle is to provide emotional and financial support and/or raise children. In the case of a non-profit organization, the mission is to provide service or education. In a business, the system principle is the provision of goods or services for profit.   A collaborative must have a system principle or a purpose too.

2) Organizations manage knowledge to achieve desired results -- knowledge being a critical mass of information looked at through the lens of experience and critical thinking, which enables us to predict and control something.   Collaboratives are also a means to assemble knowledge.

3) Organizations are comprised of knowledge specialists and generalists who manage the interface between knowledge specialties. Bits of knowledge by themselves are sterile. They become productive only if welded together into a useful body of knowledge. To make this transformation of knowledge possible is the central task for the organization.  In other words, the work of the organization is to add value to incoming information gleaned from its workers, its customers/clients and its environment, and then transform this into the output of a service or product.  If there is not a value added process or transformation, then there is no work and no authentic organization.  In the case of a family the transformation of knowledge results in meeting the needs of family members, emotionally as well as financially.

4) A collaborative (trans-organizational system) manages knowledge too. It must be managed in a similar fashion to any organization comprised of specialists.  But with collaboratives, instead of employee specialists, the member organizations are the knowledge specialists. The specialist knowledge is not necessarily the knowledge of an academic discipline but can also be the voice of lived experience by a particular constituency and in the case of an NPO can be their knowledge of service provision to their client base.  The knowledge inputs that are needed depends on the analysis assumed of the problem by the process convener and who the convenor (might be a convening committee) identifies as a potential member of the collaborative. Therein lies the fatal flaw of the whole process. For who gets to play in the game determines the eventual direction of the outcome. As computer engineers say “garbage in and garbage out” (GIGO). The saying is commonly used to describe failures in human decision making due to faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data.

The purpose of a collaborative is to create and implement a strategy for a complex problem. The work process is one of continuous decision-making. If the knowledge resources invited to participate in the process provide incomplete or inaccurate data , the decisions and new knowledge (incorporated into a plan) will not be effective.

Getting the right people in the process - Step 2

2.      What are the criteria for member selection?

As a convener you have to decide what factors need to be addressed and are important to potential  members.

Sample factors to consider as criteria for member selection:

  • Does the issue affect the population they serve?
  • Can the potential organization bring unique knowledge and perspectives towards the problem and possible solutions
  • Has the potential partner worked on the issue in our area? Do they see the gap?
  • Does the issue need to be addressed for the potential member organization to maintain credibility and influence with the community and decision makers?
  • What would motivate them to participate in the collaborative process understanding there are competing demands for everyone’s attention?
  • Have we worked with the organization before? If so was the relationship productive?
  • Do they have special qualities or resources that can add value to the process?
  • Can they help find the resources needed to make a difference to the success of the process?

Step 2- Exercise

Not only do organizations have interests but people have self interest too. In one of the literature searches for the IASCP the most substantiated benefit of collaboration found in the literature was the benefit to individual’s careers of participating in a collaborative. People made new contacts and were able to pursue new career opportunities.   It is individuals that represent the organizational members and bring their gifts needs and talents to the process.


On a separate sheet of paper brainstorm all the factors that motivate people to volunteer and participate in a new project.

Once you have completed your list, check the answer sheet to discover more.


Getting the right people in the process - Step 3

3.      Reflection Questions for a potential member:

Invitations to participate in collaborative processes sometimes arrive on daily basis. Many NPOs are participating in too many processes and feel a high level of burnout by taking on too much. On the other hand, the Wellesley institute Report by Heather Graham The State of Service Delivery Collaboration in the Toronto NPO Sector: A Key Informant Study  found that most collaboration was only taking place at an informal level. Invitations need to be carefully considered and chosen in order to further the organization’s mission, improve client outcomes and be in line with existing resources.

Questions to consider:

  • Does the issue affect a large segment of the population we serve?
  • Is anyone else working on the issue in our area? Is there a gap?
  • Do we need to participate in order for our group to maintain credibility and influence with the community and decision makers
  • Does the issue build on our previous successes?
  • If we take on the issue can we find the resources to facilitate our organization’s participation?
  • Does the issue align with our organizational weaknesses or strengths?
  • Do we have a partnership policy that provides guidance and parameters to the organization members who will participate?
  • Does our organization’s representative to the forming collaborative have the higher level communication, negotiation and political skills to be an effective member?

Exercise: List other criteria can you identify that needs to be considered in the decision-making process?


Power Issues in Collaboratives

Power is energy. It is the energy to access resources and influence or make decisions. You source power in various ways.  Like energy it is neutral in terms of its goodness. Power can foster both positive and negative outcomes but currently in our culture many people think of power as dirty word. However when a collaborative is formed by joining together the power of its individual members, the power of the collaborative is enhanced and there is more energy to tackle complex problems and social messes. Power sources, turf issues and the ability to control resources are constant issues in the day to day functioning of collaboratives.  As soon as other organizations and participants join the process, power issues emerge.  As you identify potential participants, consider the sources of power they can bring to the process and any political dynamics that might arise.

Sources of Power


Charisma- a leader can influence through personality and charm

Expertise-expertise has the power to manipulate and interpret data

Force/Coercion-compliance is gained through fear of punishment

Information-information can be useful to certain people

Networks-people with good connections have power to influence

Positions-formal positions are vested with power and authority by all parties to the relationship. Authority is exercised

Rewards- used for compliance

Access to Resources- includes directly controlled pots of funding as well as relationships with funders or decision-makers

Adapted from C. Bell and W. French, (1999) Organization development and behavioral science interventions for organizational improvement. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice Hall

Questions to facilitate a personal reflection or a group discussion about power:

What kinds of power does each organization/person have?

What do I/we know that gives me/us power?

What do I know that no-one else knows?

What would make you eager to share your knowledge?

What would you share and what wouldn’t you share?

Do you risk anything when you share knowledge?

What level of involvement should each member have especially as to decision-making?

What are the influences on the system? Who has the power to influence what we do?

What are the supports/structure we need to share knowledge, skills processes, motivation/attitudes, environment, opportunity, culture and power?

Keep in mind Power is not only what you have but what others think you have!


Beck–Kritek Phyllis, (2002) Negotiating at An Even Table, San Francisco John Wiley and Sons

Blake Poland and Heather Graham, (2008), Hospital community collaboration handbook.

Peter F Drucker,(1993),  Post Capitalist Society,  New York , Harper Collins

Lynn Eakin, We Can’t Afford to Do Business This  Way , (2007) Wellesley Institute

Heather Graham (2008), The State of Service Delivery Collaboration in the Toronto NPO Sector: A Key Informant Study. Wellesley institute

Karen Stephenson The Community Network Solution New York, February 28, 2008 

Larry Cohen and Jessica Gould, The Tension of Turf: Making it work for the Coalition The David and Lucille Packard Foundation December 2003

Fisher, Roger & Sharp Alan, (1998) Getting It Done, How to Lead When You Are Not In Charge,   Harper Collins.


Module 5 - Step 4: Collaborative planning; Exploring common ground and committing to work together

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
Joel A. Barker

Learning about each other:

A collaborative process builds a learning community. At the first meeting the tone needs to be set to create a climate of tolerance, appreciation of diversity and welcoming atmosphere.

Exercises (often called icebreakers) that help people get to know one another are a wonderful to begin the first meeting. It is also wise at the beginning of the process to have each member share what each organization needs out of the process. A hopes and fear icebreaker can help set the tone for this

By developing an understanding of the different missions of member organizations and the needs of individuals coming on their behalf, permits the members of the emerging collaborative to be open with their needs and the expression of self interest. This goes a long way towards building comfort about discussing delicate issues like political dynamics and who gets what issues.

Once you establish an open and honest climate, the group needs to explore the language issue. In many community based processes that cross sector and  professional boundaries, a single word can mean very different things to different kinds of workers; for example an enabler vs. a– in community development terminology it refers to the role of the worker in assisting community members to achieve their goals, but if you work in a substance abuse program it means someone who allows another to behave in destructive ways. And when collaborative processes include end users and community members who are unfamiliar with professional jargon, the use of acronyms and technical explanations will quickly alienate them.

Since we use many terms interchangeably to describe collaboration, the group may want to develop a common lexicon or glossary of terms. Using plain language for definitions will not alienate anyone and will be more inclusive to all.

For a start to your own lexicon see the Wellesley Institute’s Glossary of Collaborative Terms. Download it at



Create an inclusive and high functioning group

Wil Shutz, a major organization theoretician, developed a three stage model of group development –inclusion, control and affection. Group members have:

     Inclusion needs:

  • Happens early in the group formation process
  • Want to interact with others (to get to know who they are dealing with)
  • People want to be comfortable in the group and to feel like they belong
  • People want to be seen as having a particular identity

    Control needs:

  •  Need for power, influence and authority
  • To ensure their power needs are addressed-their perspective s gets heard
  • Can run in some people to a desire for control over others - and over one’s future
  • Into others by a desire to be controlled - have responsibility lifted

    Affection needs

  • Emotional climate is peaceful and tasks are achieved effortlessly
  • Close emotional feelings between people
  • Phase in which productivity is highest

Shut’s Stage Theory tells us:

In the inclusion phase people encounter each other and decide if they will continue the association. If you do not create a welcoming climate in the first meeting, there may not be a second.

Conflict is inevitable. That you need to have members with control needs to drive the process forward. If no one cares enough to argue for their perceptions and positions, the energy will not be there to develop a common vision and position for the whole group.  Too many members with high control needs however can derail the process. Leadership means knowing when to back off your control needs.

Inter-personal relationships are the glue that holds the collaborative together. Foster relationship building constantly.

Keep in mind that with every new group member the group reverts back to the inclusion stage.  If the membership is ever changing, the group dynamics may never leave the inclusion phase.


Importance of Vision

A vision is more than a strategic plan on how to address an issue. A vision is the preferred future; a desirable state and an ideal state of what can be. Goals and objectives are basically a prediction of what is to come and need to follow the development of the vision. The vision is what takes over from self-interest. Vision appeals to our higher selves and ideals.

Peter Block an organizational thought leader says “If your vision statement sounds like motherhood and apple pie and you are somewhat embarrassed, you are on the right track”

Once you have a comprehensive vision that collaborative members own and are committed to implementing, and then external decision makers in community organizations are also empowered to make decisions moving everyone forward to a desired future.

The vision and strategy also provides a blueprint to funders on what are the communities' priorities.

The vision has political clout. It tells decision makers and politicians that members of the collaborative have reached consensus on how the problem set should be handled. This can provide relief to those in office and civil servants because they do not have to forge agreement amongst a community or a sector.  

To forge a common vision, the collaborative needs to have the whole system in the room. This includes all the knowledge resources that have an interest or are willing to be mobilized to address the problem set. If the collaborative membership does not include all the necessary participants invite necessary others to the planning event.  By building knowledge with and about the whole system visioning event participants can make better decisions that incorporate not only their area of expertise but through dialogue build an understanding of how all the parts influence the whole.

Module 5 - Quiz


Which of the following is not a benefit of an effective vision?

  1. Brings clarity to focus actions
  2. Inspires and motivates
  3. Focused the groups energy on the past
  4. Guides direction and decisions

Which of the following is not a quality of an effective Vision?

  1. Gives direction and purpose
  2. Inspires and motivates people
  3. Creates guiding principle and sets standards
  4. Simple and concise
  5. Aligns with the organizations values
  6. Individual performance objectives
  7. Reflects the strengths of the organization

Click here to view the answers

Value of a Neutral Facilitator

A facilitator is trained process expert who leads a meeting through interactive exercises, who is neutral without a stake in the outcome of the meeting?  A facilitator needs to be objective and on an equal level with participants. A facilitator listens more than they speak.

 The primary task of a facilitator is to hold the group to its task by creating a climate of acceptance, warmth and belonging where the full contribution of each and every member of the group is allowed, encouraged and supported. In essence, it provides the organization with a natural capability to tap into the hidden potential of all group members and enables the organization to create a new culture:

  • of involvement that encourages people to participate actively and to think creatively.
  • of positive management where people are involved in problem solving and decision making.
  • of ownership where people see themselves as partners and have a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to their organization.
  • of integrity where trust is built and nurtured through an open and caring flow of information.

Often individual agendas or political dynamics will intrude violently into the group. The facilitator, while not ignoring such events, needs to ensure that they don’t derail the group.  A neutral facilitator can help a collaborative move through the group development stages of affection and control.   If a member of the group facilitates, there is always the risk of that someone will harbor suspicion as to the direction the group takes.

Investing in an outside facilitator at this stage builds a solid foundation of trust and commitment to the strategy.

Large Groups Breed Anxiety

When the size of a group gets above about twelve people, unconscious forces can become significant. The felt need to make ‘Nobel Prize’ quality contributions inhibits many people in the large group because they fear that their words will seem silly or inadequate. As a result the flows of offerings which are the stuff of good conversation dry up and there is a sense of ‘stuckness’ and lack of cohesion in the group. Productive change becomes impossible and the status quo is reinforced by default.


Facilitation Methodologies

There are many methodologies that trained facilitators can use to help your group move through this step. Some of names of these tools are Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, Search Conference and facilitation tools used by the Institute of Cultural Affairs.

All of these tools create a safe space to move a group through the stages of inclusion and control and build in opportunities for dialogue in order to discover common ground. To move through the entire process requires at least 2 days of planning work as a group. If the group won’t provide the time, the facilitator and the methodology will not have the time required to move the group through the control phase.


Dialogue is a form of communication in which understanding and respect are goals. It is different from other forms of communication in several ways. In dialogue we do the following:

  • present our own perspective while listening carefully to the perspectives of others
  • remain open to change,
  • speak for ourselves and from personal experience,
  •  allow others to express their perspectives safely,
  •  learn significant new things about ourselves and others,
  •  find shared concerns with people who hold different perspectives,
  •  explore doubts and uncertainties,
  •  ask questions out of true curiosity,
  •  explore the complexity of issues without polarization,

Collaborate to create better futures.

Guidelines for Dialogue:

  • Think of and treat each other as partners and colleagues
  • Suspend assumptions and certainties – hang them out in front of you so that they can be observed and questioned
  • Observe how other comments stir your thinking
  • Don’t say what you already know – discover your response as you speak it
  • Observe your thinking
  • Respond to the question, not to the comments of others
  • Stay in inquiry (focus on learning) and out of advocacy (focus on convincing).

Exercise 2- How to Conduct a "Visioning" Exercise

Ask students/group members what kind of community they would like to live in as an adult. Explain that the object is to collect as many ideas as possible--nothing is too small, too big, or too crazy for consideration. This technique has been used in real-life cities with great success, as they will learn later.

"Why bother with visions of the future when today's problems seem overwhelming?" Both problem solving and visioning are important; they are quite different approaches that should be used in combination.

  • Visioning generates a common goal, hope, and encouragement; offers a possibility for fundamental change; gives people a sense of control; gives a group something to move toward; and generates creative thinking and passion.
  • With problem solving, a group can become mired in technical details and political problems and may even disagree on how to define the problem. Problem solving, although useful, rarely results in any really fundamental change.
  • A problem is something negative to move away from, whereas a vision is something positive to move toward.
  • In moving toward a vision, you will be likely to encounter a number of problems to solve.
  • Ask, "What would your community be like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted? Where would people live? Where would they work? How would they get to their schools and workplaces? On their days off, where would they go and what would they do? What kind of a house would you live in? Where would you shop? How would you get there? What kind of energy would be used for heating? For transportation? For travel? Where would it come from? How would the air, water, and environment be kept clean?"
  • Break into small groups to brainstorm what an ideal community would be like in 10 to 20 years. Encourage group members to be specific. As a guide, the group leaders might use the categories used to describe change in your community. The categories are people, housing, schools, job/businesses, health care, crime, transportation, amenities, environment, and public involvement.
  • Return to the large group. Ask one member from each group to make one positive, declarative one-sentence statement about how the community will be in the future. Make the statement in the present tense. Examples: There are lots of bike trails. You can walk at night in safety. Transportation is fast and cheap.
  • Write these statements on a piece of newsprint that all can see and that can be saved for revision later. Continue around the room, and then repeat the sequence with another member of each group. Continue until time is short or ideas are being repeated. Then ask if there are any other hot ideas. (Note: you may have to rephrase ideas into simple declarative present-tense sentences. Ask the speaker if you have retained the gist.)

Note that in multicultural groups, you may get different visions based on different cultural backgrounds. Be alert to statements that may have cultural, ethnic, or even gender roots. The goal is not to find the majority opinion, but to arrive at a vision that reflects the thinking of the diverse groups in any classroom or community.

  • Ask group members to highlight some of the major differences between now and the future they have created. Most will initially focus on population size and technology change, but also try to elicit changes in attitudes and values regarding the community or surrounding environment, in concepts of what constitutes "progress," and in standard of living and quality of life. (Standard of living refers to economic success and comfort; quality of life refers to more intangible satisfaction with life in general.)
  • Ask group members to put themselves in the place of a resident 50 years ago and to try to imagine the likelihood of some of these changes. Were some changes predictable? Were others outside the realm of predication? Remind group members that the changes of the next 50 years will probably be just as astounding. Things that seem impossible now, may become commonplace to their grandchildren.
  • Spend about 20 minutes trying to group elements of the vision into some common themes. Find the areas of consensus, and identify any areas of disagreement. Focus on the areas of some consensus. Create a new sheet listing items that have strong support from either the entire class or a subgroup. Be careful to nurture ideas that may come from an ethnic or gender perspective even though they may not initially gain the support of the entire class. Vision statements can include ideas that pertain to only one segment of the community, such as, women can walk around at night without being afraid; the community has developed a cultural center open to all with an exhibit of local art; and students can walk to school without interference by drug dealers.

The common vision statement can be presented in a graphic form. It can include photos, maps, and other images. Or it can be a list of ideas. Simply articulating a vision can be a powerful learning tool.

In the real world, of course, having a vision is only a first step. An old proverb says,

A vision without a plan is just a dream.
A plan without a vision is just drudgery.
But a vision with a plan can change the world.

Planning the next steps toward achieving their community vision will be beyond the scope of most classes, but some may actually become involved in communitywide efforts. Students could begin, for example, by presenting their ideas to the city council, organizing a small awareness-raising event, or writing an opinion piece for the local newspaper. They may discover other strategies we cannot imagine.

Source: World Resources Institute (WRI), 2000.

Module 5 Resources

Joan Roberts, (2004) Alliances, Coalitions and Partnerships: Build Collaborative Organizations, New Society Publishers

Lippet, Lawrence L (1998), Preferred Futuring,  Berrett -Koehler, San Francisco.

Owen, Harrison (1992)  Open Space Technology: A User's Guide. Potomac, MD. Abbott Publishing. 

Spencer, Laura (1989) Winning Through Participation. Dubque. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. 

Weisbord, Marvin, R (1992) Discovering Common Ground. San Francisco,  Berrett -Koehler Publishers

Emery, M., & Purser, R. (1996). The Search Conference:  A powerful method for planning organizational change and community action. San Francisco, Jossey Bass.

Devane, Tom and Holman Peggy (1999)  The Change Handbook : Group Methods for Shaping the Future,  Berrett-Koehler.

Bunker, Barbara & Alban, Billie 1997, Large Group Interventions: Engaging the Whole System for Rapid Change. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers 

Alban, Billie T, and Bunker, Barbara Benedict (1996). The Change Handbook. San Francisco,  Jossey Bass.

Joan Roberts (2008) Re-Visioning Project with the Korean Interagency Network, Wellesley Institute. Download at


Module 6 - Step 5: Building an organization

How do we organize the vision and action into structure, leadership, communication, policies, and procedures?


Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence…

Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent…

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve, the problems of the human race.

By Calvin Coolidge

Many collaborative find they are energized and committed to the plan developed in Step 4 but are stymied in the next phase of implementation. The consultant leaves and the group is left with words on paper that somehow they have to turn into action.  Step 5 is the action step. A step, which can take many years to complete. And unfortunately this is the step where it frequently falls  apart.

Up to this point a collaborative can operate on an informal process without a lot of discipline. Now with a plan to be implemented, resources need to be acquired, organized and committed, time and energy must be organized to achieve the action steps  and that may mean staff are hired and managed. And most importantly  members  inevitably develop  conflicts and differences.  

In Alliances , Coalitions and Partnerships: Building Collaborative Organizations  I identified three process streams that need to be developed during this phase:

  • Governance or Power processes
  • Trust building Processes
  • Work Coordination and or Management Processes

How much structure is necessary?

The extent of structure necessary depends on four factors:

  • The time period the strategy is designed to cover — The longer the time period, the more structure is needed to maintain the collaborative
  • How much system or organizational change is required by the strategy — Is there a need to have a broad coordination function apart from the projects or programs the strategy encompasses?
  • Who has the resources to accomplish the change — Are the staff implementing the strategy hired by the collaborative or by one the partners in a trustee relationship?
  • How much management and oversight is necessary — Are there funds or staff that the collaborative has to manage?

What is Governance?

Governance processes are organizational structures, decision making processes, and communication strategies. Governance structures and processes are concerned with and use power.

Organizational objectives for effective governance include:

  • Protection of the public interest
  • Conducting regular meetings to facilitate information sharing decision making and action planning
  • Acquiring data about the problem set, external environment and the groups’ activity to enter into decision making
  • Creating mechanisms for effective decision-making and priority setting
  • Creating a structure for organizational policy-making
  • Establishing accountability

Tools to accomplish these objectives:

  • Contracting
  • Mandate-Terms of Reference
  • Policy-making
  • Decision-making
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Regular Meeting Management
  • Partnership Agreement

What are Trust Building Processes

Trust-building processes are used to help build relationships among the individuals who come together to form a new group or collaborative. They are the tools of the adult educator and facilitator that can help to build trust. You may ask why we stress the importance of relationships building? In the Wellesley Institute Report Tom Zizys Collaboration Practices in Government and in Business: A Literature Review the author cited statistics from  the literature on collaboration in the private sector that up to 70% of collaboratives fail. Their failure was primarily due to poor relationship building. We do not the success rate of collaborative in the NPO sector but  due to the increased complexity of NPO work we can safely assume similar or lower rates of success

Organizational objectives for effective trust building include:

  • To build new relationships
  • To build trust
  • To develop a common language
  • To build a common vision and goals
  • To build an effective group that work together on desired outcomes
  • To developing group members in their roles of group members, decision makers and task workers
  • To value and accept members emotions and individual perspectives

Tools to accomplish these objectives:

  • Ice breakers-openers and closers
  • Value discussions
  • Visioning and strategic planning processes
  • Dialogue
  • Adult education principles
  • Roles of group members
  • Social events
  • Storytelling and myth building
  • Process consulting




Ice breakers are exercises used at the beginning of any meeting or training or help participants bring their attention to what is happening in the moment:

  • Help to clarify group members' expectations and knowledge.
  • Introduce participants to working within a group.
  • Provide space to build interpersonal relationships.
  • Relieve anxiety

*To find hundreds of examples just Google icebreaker.

What are Work Coordination and or Management Processes?

This set of processes and tools is essential for the work that must occur to form a collaborative and keep it operating and implementing its vision and strategic plan.

Organizational objectives for effective co-ordination processes include:

  • Program Planning
  • Planning and implementing work plans
  • Creating an organizational structure that can facilitate working and communicating across organizational boundaries to undertake the task
  • Keeping the group focused and moving forward on its action plans
  • Creating and maintaining a communications system
  • Managing the human resources-through hiring processes or contracts
  • Financial planning and management
  • Seeking funding through proposal writing

Tools to accomplish these objectives:

  • Note or minute taking
  • Logic models
  • Work plans
  • Timelines
  • Communications mechanisms (i.e., e-mail, listserv, internal newsletters, meeting agenda packages)
  • Large group meetings
  • Work groups and subcommittees or virtual teams
  • Hiring staff or contracting with a consultant to coordinate the work needed to keep the TS going

Adapted from Roberts 2004 P 145

Principles of Adult Learning

  • participants come to sessions with extensive knowledge and experience 
  • adults learn by doing 

  • participants know what they want to learn
  • people need to be able to connect the learning with what they are working on, with what they already know and have experienced
  • people learn in different ways
  • feedback is critical to the learning process
  • adults do not like to be patronized or criticized

Building Consensus

What is consensus?

Consensus is a method for making decisions. All group members actively discuss the issue and are encouraged to contribute their own opinions, knowledge and skills. The final decision is one which everyone can live with and support.

Here are some guidelines for helping the group to achieve consensus.

 • Help group members to avoid arguing for their own position. If needed, help them present it logically, but be prepared to intervene.

 • Look for win-win alternatives. As the facilitator, you're working for collaboration and cooperation, not competition where there are winners and losers.

• If agreement seems to come too quickly, be suspicious. Some people change to avoid conflict. Explore the reasons. Be sure everyone accepts the solution for similar or complementary reasons.

• Avoid conflict reducing techniques such as majority vote, coin flips, and bargaining. Differences of opinion are natural and expected. They increase the group's decision-making ability by providing a greater range of information and opinions. As the facilitator, you have techniques to use for the group to come to consensus, such as the Nominal Group Technique or Multi-Voting.

Find out more at


Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference is tool that can provide a structure for a developing group. It acts like a constitution and bylaws for an unincorporated body.

The following elements can be incorporated into the document.  

  • Background
  • General mandate
  • Specific responsibilities
  • Membership
  • Reporting relationship

Staffing and

  •  Resources
  • Meetings
  • Quorum and Decision making process
  • Timeframes

(Roberts, 2004, P 98 )

Options for Decision Making Diagram

Case Study: "Food Security Coalition Fizzles"

In the spring 2005, residents of Bloortown formed a food securitiy coalition.  By 2007, the group included 15 people, all of whom have been involved in the coalition from its beginning.  These included representatives from the:

  • local foodbank 
  • social planning council 
  • public health unit  
  • organic food co-op 
  • downtown farmers market
  • the Bloortown Dandelion Protection Society
  • Better Beginnings, Better Futures project 

The coalition has successfully achieved its first objective by launching a series of community workshops raising awareness on food security isses.

The coalition chose a multi-faceted approach to create a food secure community. The first objective- awareness raising is underway with additonal objectives to create a community garden and a community food basket program in the planning stages and yet to be implemented.

The coalition meets every second Tuesday night between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Jalari's house.  Jalari is a member representing the organic food co-op.  Meetings used to include refreshments (wonderful munchies from the co-op), but lately the host has been too busy to prepare food.  These meetings are the only time the group gets together.  Recently, only five or six people came to the meetings.  Some blame family commitments, while others allude to tension around leadership of the group.  Barb, the newly appointed chairperson, is showing obvious signs of stress and is feeling undersupported.

Soo-ling, the local public heath nurse, is frustrated because she has just spent 12 hours drafting a promotional brochure from scratch to be sent out to local agencies, only to find that another member of the communications sub-committee has already written her own brochure and had it typeset.  To top it off, Sue’s partner, a teacher, criticized her brochure for being too basic for the target audience.  She doesn't think the readers will take it seriously.  She also said she had seen a brochure containing the same information at her doctor's office just the other day.

Angela has just announced that she will probably be too busy to continue with the network over the summer.  Besides, she says, she doesn't feel the network really needs her volunteer recruiting skills.  Pablo willingly offers to take on her tasks in addition to his current role of co-ordinating the community awarenss campaign and leading the community gardens program.

Questions for Case Study:

  1. Going back to the formation stage of this collaborative, you have just scheduled the first meeting of the new Bloortown Food Security Coalition.  What would you have on the agenda?
  2. You are appointed to a governance work group for the Food Security Coalition. As we can see, it is composed of community and voluntary sector participants. What do you propose as the best decision making process? If it was busy executives, what would your choice be?
  3. Develop a Terms of Reference for this collaborative.
  4. What kinds of policies are needed in a collaborative that is undertaking advocacy and communicating through the media?  How about if they are hiring staff and consultants?
  5. You are an outside consultant to the Bloortown Food Security Network. As we can see, it is composed of community and voluntary sector participants. What do you propose as the best decision making process? If it was busy executives, what would your choice be?










Module 6 Resources

Sandra L. Lawson A Quick Reference Guide For Facilitators Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.  Available at

Joan Roberts, (2004) Alliances, Coalitions and Partnerships: Build Collaborative Organizations, New Society Publishers

Tom Zizy Collaboration Practices in Government and in Business: A Literature Review (2008) Wellesley Institute. Download at



Module 7 - Step 6 Evaluation: Is the collaborative doing its work effectively?

You many see evaluation as the end of a cycle but that does not mean it is necessarily the end of the life of the collaborative.  Although it is at the end of our step by step framework, to have an effective evaluation phase, preconditions for success must be built in early on into the process.  If evaluation of projects and programs are to take place, you need to develop measureable goals and objectives in Step 4 of the planning phase in order to evaluated the  outcomes of the strategy  in step 6. Checking in on the group process is another form of evaluation and can take place at any point in the process.

What is evaluation?

Evaluation is essentially a process to measure performance. In the NPO sector, most practitioners use the term evaluation to describe program evaluation, which is focused on discovering whether a program did what it set out to do in a proposal to its funder.

What is its value to collaboration projects?

In the area of collaboration, practitioners conduct program evaluation in the same manner as when a program is delivered by one agency.   The program if designed properly would have identified goals, objectives and outcomes and organized into a logic model format or something similar.  Whether a sole service provider or a collaborative delivers the program  should make no difference to measuring whether the program delivered what it promised.  As with any program evaluation however it is very difficult to make clear casual links between one program’s services and the ultimate successful outcome of individual, organizational or social change.

As is the case throughout the NPO sector program evaluations are rare and outcome evaluations of programs undertaken by collaborative are almost non-existent (Boutillier et al,  Zizys)

Difference between process and outcome evaluation

Process evaluation focuses on group processes and the functioning of the organization. As collaborative is a trans-organizational system you would assess its process as a quasi organization. The evaluation of the process addresses the  quality of interaction  and member satisfaction how conflict is resolved and power is shared.

Outcomes evaluation looks at impacts/benefits/changes to your clients as a result of your programming ,projects or  behavior change campaigns . Outcomes evaluation can examine these changes in the short-term, intermediate term and long-term

Process evaluation can include developing a process work plan for the group, whereas a process intervention might be a skill building workshops such as in lateral leadership skills. A process evaluation can happen regularly for instance 5 minutes at the end of every meeting the chair can ask for feedback as to how the meeting went.

A process evaluation can be simply 3 questions:

  1. How did the meeting go?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What should we start doing?

Process evaluation can also take place at regularly selected intervals  and be more thorough  The tool below is one you would schedule substantial time for all members to complete and discuss and develop strategies for any gaps.


External Consultants

If a collaborative is highly dysfunctional and ridden with conflict and there is still a mandate to fulfill and enough goodwill to work through the issues consider hiring a process consultant to work with group.  Process consultants have training in the field of organization development and can work with a collaborative to surface the covert issues that are driving the group apart.

Program evaluation consultants are an excellent resource for outcome evaluations. They can be the neutral facilitator to gather feedback from members, member organizations and community stakeholders. Their recommendations can improve your work with suggested adjustments to programs and  policies. Hiring an outside consultant will bring objectivity to the evaluation.

A Tool to Assess Your Collaborative Process


Doing/Did This Very Well


Doing/Did This Well


Doing/Did This O.K.


Doing/Did This Poorly


(Did) Not Doing This



Step 1  Determining the need for a collaborative and exploring the problem set 


Does the problem still exist and by working together are we making a difference to the issue?







Have we completed a literature review to see what others have done with the issue?







Are members developing a common understanding of the issues?







Are we gathering information from members, clients and the community about their needs, wants and preferences in relation to our organizing issue?







Are members of the collaborative scanning the horizon for new information and developments?







Does the problem still need a comprehensive approach or is one organization better suited to address the issue?







Sub total score-

 Possible total =30

High score =20-30

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Step 2 Motivation to Collaborate

Do members still perceive benefits to participating in the collaborative?







Is the motivation for collaboration a result of a external incentive such as a funding opportunity?  If so are there enough other motivators to operate effectively and co-operate?







Are the members energized and still willing to come to meetings and take on tasks?







Is the collaborative accessing the resources its needs to do its work?







Are the collaborative members complementing each other’s capacity and resources?







Is there is a shared  commitment to the vision and goals? Does the vision of the collaborative enhance the mission of member agencies?







Are the partners willing to share their ideas, resources, influence and power to fulfill the goal?







Do the perceived benefits of the partnership outweigh the perceived costs?







Sub total score-

 Possible total =40

High score =25-40

Medium score= 15-25

Low score =0-15







Step 3 Member Identification and Selection


Who participates in the collaborative meetings, senior or junior level staff? Does this impede decision making?







Is there a positive group dynamic?







 Is enough variety among members to have a comprehensive

understanding of the issues and to facilitate  learning and developing a comprehensive approach?







Do the participants have the necessary skills for collaborative action?







Is there someone not at the table who should be involved in the process? If so who?








Are power issues addressed and is conflict seen as normal?







Sub total score-

 Possible total =30

High score =20-30

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Step 4 Collaborative Planning


Has a neutral facilitator has led the group through this step?







Did all partners participate in the planning activities?







Was there opportunities in planning activities to explore differing needs and priorities amongst the collaborative member organizations?







Does the collaborative have a purpose or mission is it clear to the members and external stakeholders ?







Has the collaborative developed a collective vision to respond to the problem set?







Has the vision been fleshed out with goals objectives and a realistic action plan that is committed to by all partners







Does the plan clearly show time lines and assigned responsibilities for review and completion?







Sub total score-

 Possible total =30

High score =20-30

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Step 5  Building the organization’s architecture


Trust Building Processes








Do members take pride in the way their work contributes to
achieving the overall vision of the collaborative?







Are there procedures and strategies to ensure alternative views are expressed within

the partnership?







Is there a capacity building strategy to ensure members of the collaborative gain the skills needed to make the collaboration work?







Do we regularly ask for feedback from our members about how well the collaborative is doing?







If a project fails, or things go less well than planned, people learn from it and their readiness to continue to try new things is not diminished.








When conflict arises, the situation is handled respectfully and effectively to everyone's satisfaction.








Do people feel comfortable to say what they think and feel, in a way that promotes problem-solving?








Sub total score-

 Possible total =35

High score =20-35

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Governance Processes








Is there decision-making system that is known by everyone participating in the collaborative?







Are there clear roles, responsibilities and expectations of members and are they clearly defined and understood by all?







Are there are formal structures for resolving turf disputes?







Are issues and questions about power are addressed openly and transparent?







Do we plan how we will conduct our meetings?







Are there policies that cover the type of work done by the collaborative such as a HR policy for staff or a communications policy for advocacy or communications work?







Do all the member organizations have policies that empower their collaborative representatives? 







Sub total score-

 Possible total =30

High score =20-30

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Work co-ordination processes







Is there someone, paid or volunteer who is clearly responsible to ensure the work of the collaborative gets done?







Are the lines of communication, roles and expectations of partners clear?







Do members have the task of communicating and promoting the collaborative in their own organizations?







Are processes that are common across agencies such as referral protocols,








Is the administrative, communication and decision-making structure of the collaborative as simple as possible?







Do we keep up-to-date records on the organization, programs, activities, community needs, contact people and resources involved in the collaborative? 







Sub total score- Possible total 30

High score =20-30

Medium score= 10-20

Low score =0-10







Step 6 Evaluation: Reflecting on continuing the partnership


Do enough members attend regular meetings of the collaborative?







Are there enough  resources to continue

the work of the collaborative?







Has the collaborative  been keeping track when it reaches milestones and targets?







Is there a clear need and commitment to continuing the collaboration in the

medium term?







Are there regular opportunities to reflect on how things are

done and how they could be improved? Is there an annual review?







Are there processes to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of committees, meetings and the organization of the collaborative itself?







Is there a way to review the range of partners that allows for turnover and recruiting new members?








Does the collaborative organization and its committees look back over the previous year's objectives, activities and accomplishments to highlight concerns celebrate achievements?







Is the sector or community benefiting from the knowledge developed within the collaborative? Is there a mechanism for knowledge transfer?







Sub total score- Possible total 45

High score =30-45

Medium score= 15-30

Low score =0-15







Tabulating Your Scores

Total possible score of 300

Add up the circled numbers from each category. Transfer the total scores to the appropriate spaces below.


Step score

Step 1  Determining the need for a collaborative and exploring the problem set 



Step 2 Motivation to Collaborate


Step 3 Member Identification and Selection



Step 4 Collaborative Planning



Step 5  Building the organization’s architecture

  • Trust building processes
  • Governance processes
  • Work processes






Step 6 Evaluation: Reflecting on continuing the partnership



Total score 


Community Development Strategies


Course Summary

It is common for health promoters to be viewed as being in the business of community development, but many do not have formal training in community development. Also, it is not always clear to what extent health promoters are mandated by their employers or funders to become involved in community development activities. This course is designed for health promoters to develop a basic understanding of basic values, principles and methods of community development and how they may be applied within their own work setting. Specific community development applications and methods, such as community asset mapping, will be explored. Appropriate roles of health promoters in collaborating with other organizations to work on broad community issues will be considered, along with factors that contribute to the success of community partnerships and coalitions. The course includes readings, exercises, case studies and resources for further information.  This course will help you to become an informed participant or perhaps even a leader in community development initiatives in your community.

Course Goal

The goal of this course is to increase the capacity of health promoters to engage and empower communities to improve their quality of life, through the application of community development values, concepts and strategies.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, participants will have gained knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Community development values, concepts and practice, and how it differs from community outreach and community-based programs
  • Community asset mapping
  • Aligning health services with community priorities and values
  • Success factors in community partnerships and collaborations

Overview of the organization of the course content

The course will be divided into the following three modules, each of which will take about 3 hours to complete.

Module 1.         Concepts, Values and Principles

Module 2.         Strategies and Methods

Module 3.         Community Collaboration

Course Outline

Course Outline - Revised March 10, 2009


(a) Course Summary

(b) Course Goal

(c) Course objectives

(d) Content Overview


Module 1:       Concepts, Values and Principles

Content:       (a) Definition and characteristics of community

                       (b) Definition and history of community development

                       (c) Community Development Values and Principles

            (a) Checklist of community characteristics


1. Describe a community to which you belong. What are its demographic characteristics? What makes it a community?


2. Match a list of common terms used in traditional social services terminology with terms that reflect community development values and principles.


3. Write a paragraph answering the question “Is having a “sense of community” important to you?” and explaining why or why not.


Module 2:       Process, Strategies and Roles

Content:         (a) Ten Steps to Community Development

                         (b) Community Development Strategies

                         (c) Community Development Roles


Tools:             (a)  Community Asset Mapping



1. Read the case study provided and identify the community development methods or strategies used. Discuss how effective they think they were and whether or not there are other strategies or methods that may have been helpful in achieving the goal.


2. Quiz – match activities to strategies


Module 3:  Community Collaboration

Content:         (a) Benefits of Collaboration

                         (b) Types of Collaboratives

                         (c) Collaborative Roles

                         (d) Challenges

                         (e) Factors that contribute to successful collaborations

                          (f) Working effectively across different organizational cultures



Tools:              (a) When to Start a Coalition

                          (b) Collaboration Framework

                          (c) Tips for Improving Coalition Functioning.


Exercise:         Read the scenario provided. Identify the partners that you would hope to engage in reaching the community’s goals. What roles would they play? Think creatively about how others can participate apart from attending planning meetings or providing funding?




Additional Resources

Evaluation Form                                                      

Module One: Concepts, Values and Principles

Most health promoters are not community developers, but in many ways they can facilitate and contribute to community development. Community Development can take place in many different settings and program contexts. In terms of their direct services to clients, health promoters often work with people to help them reach their goals, and provide programs, services and resources that meet community needs. Health promoters also learn from the community and adapt their programs, services, and policies to meet the community needs and interests. Beyond the scope of their specific mandate, health promoters may also partner with other organizations to provide resources and become engaged in community development initiatives that involve broad community collaborations. All of these activities can be viewed as community development practice.[1]

The following overview of the basic concepts, values and principles of community development will provide a general orientation that will enable you to contribute to community development within your organization and participate effectively in collaborative community development initiatives. It may also help you to identify and respond to opportunities for community development activities.



Definition and Characteristics of Communities

The term "community" is used extensively in almost all areas of our lives. It is used in both our common, everyday language and also by professionals, politicians and corporations. We frequently hear about "community care", "community revitalization", "community service" and many other references to community. Yet, while everyone seems to have a fairly common understanding of what is meant by "community" it eludes a clear and comprehensive definition.   

The word "community" is derived from Latin and has been used in the English language since the 14th century.  It refers to both the development of a social grouping and also the nature of the relationship among the members. The term is most often associated with one or more of the following characteristics:

  • common people, as distinguished from those of rank or authority;
  • a relatively small society
  • the people of a district;
  • the quality of holding something in common
  • a sense of common identity and characteristics.

The concept of community was further developed in the 19th century to contrast the dynamics and relationships of residents within a local setting to that of larger and more complex industrial societies. It is related to the terms commune (French) and Gemeinshaft (German), in terms of denoting particular kind of relationships. Relationships within a community were thought to be more direct, holistic and significant than the more formal and abstract relationships with the larger society.[2]

Today, three main types of communities are usually identified:

i)        Geographic communities share physical space, so that residents come into contact with each other by virtue of proximity, rather than intent. However, to be a "real" community, residents must feel a sense of belonging and hold at least some values and symbols in common.  For example, a feature of the natural landscape, such as a river, that is important to many, or a local claim to fame; such as an internationally known theatre company. In geographic communities how power is distributed has a significant impact on how the community develops.

ii)      Communities of interest are sometimes referred to as "communities within communities". Members of these communities choose to associate with each on the basis of a common interest (e.g. model railway club) or shared concerns (e.g. poor air quality). Sometimes communities are formed by self-identified members of a reference group based on characteristics outside of their control, e.g. a disability, ethnic group, or low income, which give them a sense of common identity and shared concerns.

iii)    Virtual communities are groups of people that primarily interact via communication media rather than face to face.[3] If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. Online communities are "social aggregations that emerge from the Net when people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships".[4]

An individual can belong to several different communities at the same time; e.g. a faith community, a business community and a neighbourhood community.

Communities can be healthy or unhealthy, with most being somewhere in the middle. In an unhealthy community there may be an environmental disaster, such as the contamination of the water supply, a high level of poverty due to a major industry closing, or entrenched conflict over a divisive community issue. The path to becoming a healthy community starts with broad community engagement, leadership, the development of a shared vision and community goals, effective planning, local government commitment and collaborative use of internal and external resources. [5]

[1] The Working Together Project. (accessed Feb. 23, 2008)

[2] Bakardjieva, Maria. University of Calgary (accessed Jan 11/08)

[3] Wikipedia (accessed Jan 11/08)

[4] (Rheingold, Howard, The Virtual Community (accessed Jan. 11/08)

[5] Michael Stolte. The communities matrix. makingwaves, volume 15, number 2, p. 22



Definition and History of Community Development


i) Definition

There are many definitions of community development but the basic concept was stated by the United Nations in 1948

"Community Development is a process designed to create conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with its active participation and fullest possible reliance upon the community's initiative."

(quoted in Head, 1979:101)

ii) Brief History of Community Development

Community development practice has arisen from a variety of sources and settings. Its roots can be traced to the social reform movement in Britain and North America in the latter half of the 18thcentury. Community development principles were formulated and applied in third world development efforts following decolonization. In the 50's and 60's CD or community organization, as it came to be called, was used in deprived or underdeveloped urban and rural settings in North America (Smith, 1979: 52). CD was a response to the perceived disintegration of society due to rapid technological change, economic dislocations, disruption in traditional family and community structures and the extension of government and commercial services into personal and family life, with negative impacts on personal effectiveness and community ties (Carey, 1979:20).  CD is eclectic, integrating specialized knowledge from education, public health, economic development and politics. (Head, 1979:101) However, it is also a discipline unto itself, with a body of theory, standards of practice and professional associations. Masters and doctoral programs in community development are usually associated with either a school of social work or rural development.

Values and Principles of Community Development


Community development is sometimes confused with community-based programs, community research and other forms of community interventions. The most significant feature that distinguishes community development from other community work is its values and principles.

Below are a list and a brief definition of the values and principles that are typically embodied in community development programs. Additional information on these terms is available in the glossary section of this course.

  • Democratic: The will of the majority must be carried out, but only after all voices are heard and considered and minority rights are protected.
  • Inclusive: There are many barriers to participation in society; poverty, disability, age, race and ethnicity are some other characteristics that often marginalize people. A healthy community embraces diversity and recognizes that all community members have a right to be heard and participate in processes that affect their lives.
  • Non-authoritarian: Organizational structures are as flat as possible, with all participants being seen as equally important and having equal input.
  • Community self determination: Community members come together to discuss their concerns, assess options and arrive at their own conclusions. They may seek advice from "experts", but consider it along with other sources of information and their own experience and make their own decisions that are right for them.
  • Community Ownership: Communities thrive when they develop their own assets, but also when they "own" their problems and issues. When communities accept that it is "their" problem, then they are more likely to work together to develop a solution, and the solution will be better than one provided solely by an external "expert".
  • Enhance natural capacities and networks: There are sources of strength in every community; for example, informal networks and social support systems, or certain individuals that have particular talents or are able to help others in need. A community developer identifies these existing community assets and works with them. It is important not to duplicate existing structures and functions as that may weaken rather than strengthen the community.
  • Social justice and equity: This is fundamental to community development and is at least implicit in all CD work, if not an explicit goal of a CD program.
  • Universality: Services are available to everyone, without requiring means or needs testing.
  • Service Integration: Often services provided to persons in need are fragmented, so that one service provider doesn't know what other services are available or being used, resulting in gaps, duplications and sometimes conflicting advice or treatments.

    A community development approach would ensure that services are coordinated, that they enhance and strengthen natural community and family supports, that there is effective communication among all involved, and that services are directed by the individual receiving them, to the extent possible.
  • Upstream: The distinction between upstream vs. downstream approaches uses a river as a metaphor for the increasing impact of conditions and events which affect health over time and space, and relates to the point of intervention. For example, if there is a toxic spill upstream, it will affect the quality of the water in the river for everyone living downstream. You can focus either on dealing with the illnesses that are experienced by the downstream people (downstream approach) or you can stop the spill and prevent others from happening in the future (upstream approach).

Tool: Characteristics of a Healthy Community

The following characteristics of a healthy community have been selected from a number of sources[1] as a starting point for identifying the qualities your community possesses that will help it to thrive.  

Read the following list and determine if it applies to your community.  Ask other community members for their opinions and compare them. Are there common perceptions?

Does your community...




1.      Have broad consensus on a vision of a healthy community




2.      Have a community strategic plan in place to achieve that vision?




3.      Provide opportunities for life long learning and skill development?




4.      Encourage members to take on leadership roles?




5.      Have a high degree of cooperation and collaboration among its organizations and institutions?




6.      Have a high level of civic pride?




7.      Consider the well-being rural areas surrounding the municipality in their planning?




8.      Ensure all residents are able to meet their basic needs?




9.      Encourage youth to take an active role?




10.  Plan to protect and enhance all forms of capital; natural, financial, physical infrastructure, human and social?




11.  Have a thriving arts community?




12.  Have an effective communications network, including media, public consultations and access to information?




13.  Welcome newcomers?




14.  Invest in economic development and business retention programs to promote a diverse and vital economy?




15.  Treat each other with respect regardless of differences?




16.  Celebrate its accomplishments?




17.  Have Workplaces that are supportive of individual and family well-being?




18.  A high level of safety perceived by its residents?




19.  Work diligently and creatively towards environmental sustainability?




20.  A strong cultural and spiritual life






[1] Sources include: (a) Darling, David. L, and Gayla Randal. Leadership for Healthy Communities: Characteristics of a Healthy Community. (accessed Jan 11/08); (b) Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition community.htm (c) Community Builders.nsw.



Module 1 Exercises

1.Describe a community to which you belong. What are its demographic characteristics? What makes it a community? 




2.Match the traditional perspectives and approaches to dealing with social problems with the alternative community development approach.


Community Development


participatory evaluation

respond to problems

less services and agencies

charity orientation


more services and agencies


focus on individuals


income support

identify opportunities

high risk




expert evaluation



focus on community/neighbourhood


investment orientation

Click here to view the solution


3. Write a paragraph answering the question “Is having a “sense of community” important to you?” and explaining why or why not.








Yar, Majid:  Community: Past, Present, and Future. Journal of Social Issues Vol, 2, Issue 1. (accessed Jan 10/08)

Boetcher,Sue, Heather Duggan and Nancy White. What is a Virtual Community and Why Would You Ever Need One? (accessed Jan 11/08)

Community Assessment Handbook.  City of Calgary



Module Two : Process Strategies and Roles

Ten Steps to Community Development

10 Steps to Community Development[1]

For the purposes of this course, the general community development process can be synthesized into the following basic steps. However, community development is an organic process, so that while the "steps" are presented in a logical order, in reality they may not follow sequentially and some steps may either be skipped or carried out simultaneously with other steps. Please click on the title of the step to learn more about each step.


Community Development Strategies

There are many different strategies and methods used in community development. Below is a chart of those that are most commonly used. 




1.   Locality Development


  • Improvements in the well-being of local citizens through increased resources, facilities, services, etc., brought about by the active involvement of citizens.
  • Building a community centre
  • Home renovation subsidies

2.   Social Action


  • Seeks a redistribution of power
  • Focus is on a specific issue
  • Advocacy activities; for example;
  • Anti-poverty activists seeking increases to social assistance rates.

3.   Social Planning[5]


  • Rational problem-solving process to address social problems
  • Involves needs assessments, analysis of service delivery mechanisms, systems co-ordination and other technical expertise
  • Involvement of community members in consultation, interpretation of results and service planning
  • Conducting a needs assessment of people who are homeless and using the results to plan a new housing development in needed locations, with appropriate services on-site.

4.   Social Reform


  • Activity by one group on behalf of a relatively disadvantaged group
  • Advocating for community acceptance, supports and services for people that have a mental illness

5.   Community Relations


  • Focus is on increasing social integration
  • Often attempts to improve the social status of minority populations
  • Mediating between community factions
  • Anti-racism programs

6.   Social Capital Formation[6]


  • Focus in on connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness
  • high social capital = effective schools, governments, lower crime, higher economic equality, greater tolerance
  • includes political engagement, civic and religious organizations, family gatherings, socializing, group recreational activities
  • Creating places and opportunities for community members to gather and network with each other
  • Orientation programs to welcome newcomers
  • Community activities to develop and/neighbourliness.

7.   Capacity Building


Capacity is the participatory leadership, skills, resources, knowledge and tools of individuals in communities and organizations that enable them to address, and have greater control over, conditions and factors that affect their quality of life.


(a) Individual Capacity is the sum of the assets (skills, talents, experience and knowledge) possessed by an individual that will help them succeed and contribute to their community.

(b) Organizational Capacity is the participatory decision-making, program development, planning, research, resources, tools, skills, education & training, knowledge contained within an organization

(c) Community Capacity: the combination of a community's commitment, leadership, resources and skills that can be deployed to build on community strengths and address community problems and opportunities.

(a) The Search Institute[7] has identified the essential development assets for children youth that will enable them to thrive.

(b) organizations can enhance their capacity in many ways, such as professional development activities, involvement of all levels of the organization in planning, and recognizing the unique talents of individuals

(c) Some indicators of high community capacity are inter-agency networking opportunities, collaborations and partnerships to address broad community issues, community pride, local government support for community activities and high quality education,  health and social services.

8.   Asset-Based Community Development


  • Assets are the gifts, skills, resources and abilities of community residents; sometimes physical resources are also included
  • Every community has a unique combination of assets upon which to build its future
  • Starts with identifying assets rather than needs
  • Is internally focused and relationship-driven

Some communities have mapped the location of their community assets (people, businesses, services, buildings, natural features) and used the data to connect people with similar interests, or people in need of help with someone that can provide it. Co-operative businesses and new volunteer groups have been established from community mapping projects.  





Community Development Roles

A community developer may take on a variety of different roles and s/he works with the community. However, in all the roles, the worker always respects the autonomy and self-determination of the community members and does not impose an externally directed agenda upon them. Their work conforms to professional standards and ethics and is comprehensive and systematic in its approach.

Currently, there are few positions that are explicitly named "Community Developer" and it is increasingly more common for managers and employees in a variety of settings to be expected to take a community development approach to their work. There are many opportunities for anyone who is involved with community members to incorporate a community development role into their practice.

In community development literature, the roles commonly ascribed to community development workers are enabler, guide, technical expert and liaison.[8]

Guide: As a guide, the worker helps the community identify their goals and find the means to achieve them.

Enabler: The worker can enable the community in a variety of ways. S/he might facilitate a problem solving process with the community, which could include helping them to articulate dissatisfactions and identify their causes. The worker could also help them to organize and plan their activities and encourage positive interpersonal relationships. The enabler role is most associated with locality development strategies.

Technical Assistant: This "expert" role is most associated with social planning. However, in all forms of community development there is usually some need by the community to access technical support, in areas such as community assessment, media relations, accessing information or project development.

Liaison/Advocate: Depending on the nature of the community and the type of community development initiative it has taken on, there may be a need for the worker to assume a liaison or advocacy role. S/he may be the intermediary between the community and other bodies such as government, institutions or other community factions. The worker may be asked by the community to present their views, access information or negotiate an agreement.


Tool: Mapping Your Community Assets

Community asset mapping is a positive approach to building strong communities, developed by John Kretzmann and John McKnight, of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  The Community Asset Mapping process outlined by Kretzmann and McKnight in their guidebook Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Towards Finding and Mobilising a Communit's Assets[1] describes in detail a process to mobilize a community to use its assets to develop a plan to solve its problems and improve residents' quality of life.

Traditional methods of community work tend to focus on a community's deficits; i.e. their needs and problems. Often, one of the first steps of a community worker is to undertake a needs assessment of the community, which usually focusses on issues :such as unemployment, poverty, crime and illiteracy, while ignoring the assets that exist in the community. Working from a "needs" perspective generally leads to external funds and services being sought  to help the community. While these may indeed have positive benefits to community residents, often the result is a fragmented patchwork of services. Many of the services may not be appropriate to the culture and dynamics of that particular community, and do not contribute to building the capacity of the community or empower individuals to be self-sufficient. In a nutshell, "needs-based" assessments tend to lead to community dependence rather than community development.

Kretzmann and McKnight propose that community developers start with a "clear commitment to discovering a community's capacities and assets". (Kretzmann and McKnight 1993, p.1).  The asset-based approach does not remove the need for outside resources, but makes their use more effective by: 

  • starting with what is present in the community
  • concentrating on the agenda-building and problem-solving capacity of the residents
  • stressing local determination, investment, creativity, and control[2]

Each community has assets to be preserved and enhanced. These assets can be used by residents as the foundation from which to build a postive future. Beyond developing a simple inventory, this 'mapping' process is designed to promote connections or relationships between individuals, between individuals and organizations, and between organizations and organizations. Combining community assets creates a synergy that exponentially increases the capacity of the community to meet the needs of its residents. The  information collected through this asset-mapping process may also be used as the foundation for many other processes, such as strategic planning, community mobilization and community economic development.

Community assets include:

  • Skills, knowledge, talents and experience of local residents
  • Community associations, many of which provide benefits far beyond their mandate
  • Businesses
  • Schools, churches, libraries and other institutions that operate within the community
  • Municipal services such as police, fire, parks and recreation services
  • Other social services and community organizations
  • Physical structures; e.g. town square, heritage buildings
  • Natural resources; e.g. river, trees, green space

The first step in community asset mapping is to work with community members to develop a plan for documenting the community's assets.  On the next page you will find some ideas for getting started on an asset-mapping project.


[1] Kretzmann, John P. and John L. McKnight. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Towards Finding and Mobilising a Communit's Assets. ACTA Publications, Chicago, IL. 1993.

[2] Social Design Notes (accessed Jan. 11, 2008)


Tool: Mapping Your Community Assests Continued

(a) Mapping Individual Capacity

Different methods can be used for creating an individual capacity inventory. Personal interviews will yield more in-depth information bust is very costly. Other possibilities are

  • Mailing out a survey
  • Dropping off surveys door-to-door
  • Have surveys available at convenient locations for people to pick up and return
  • Telephone calls
  • Meet people in groups[3]

Kretzmann and McKnight's guide provides a template for an individual capacity inventory to identify a wide array of skills and experience of residents which they are able to contribute to the community. It is critical that the capacity inventory is not seen as a study of neighbourhood residents, but as a community development tool.  It should be designed and presented in a way that will encourage residents to view themselves as having valuable assets that they could contribute to the community and to connect people that that can help each other. The plan will also need to identify the human and financial resources required to complete the asset map. Once the plan is in place, an individual capacity assessment is conducted, followed by an inventory of other community assets. Once the assets are identified, they are analyzed to find their "points of connection"[4], forming the basis of a community mobilization process.

(b) Mapping Groups, Organizations and Institutions

The Community Tool Box[5] provides a simple set of guidelines for taking an inventory of all the groups (associations, organizations, and institutions) that exist in the community. One method is to simply make a list. Here are some of their suggestions for getting starting:

1. Get out a pad and start writing. Begin with what you know. Write down anything that comes to mind. You can always correct your list later. You can do this work by yourself; but it might be more useful and fun to work with others. This is also a great project for students or interns.

2. Use other sources of information to add to your list. These can include:

  • The yellow pages are a free, comprehensive, and often excellent source.
  • Town directories, published for your community alone.
  • Lists of businesses, probably available from the chamber of commerce.
  • Lists of organizations - check your library or town hall.
  • The local newspaper, newsletters and other print sources
  • Bulletin boards. Physical bulletin boards, for sure; and also community-calendar type listings that might be found on local cable television.
  • Your friends and colleagues. They may know about other lists available or of groups, organizations, and community assets that are not on anybody else's lists.

3. To expand your list further, check the Community Capacity Inventory[6], provided by the Community Tool Box.

4. Learn more about each organization you have identified. You can inquire about available staffing, space, equipment, expertise, and willingness to help and get involved in a variety of ways. This will take more time but may be well worth it. For some possible questions you can ask, see Questions to ask while capacity mapping.  

5. Refine and revise your list. You can put it on a computer, if you haven't done so already. You can also break your list down in several different ways: alphabetically, geographically, by type of function, by size, by public/private membership or governance, or however you want.

(c) Creating a Map

"Mapping" involves identifying relationships, whether to the geographic landscape, to other organizations or to other community features. Maps are good visual aids: when you can see the data right in front of you, your understanding and insight is often increased. There are several ways to go about mapping community assets:

One mapping method is to find a large street map of your community, with few other markings. (Your local Planning Department may help here.) Then just mark with a dot, or tag, or push-pin (maybe color-coded by type) the geographic location of the groups and organizations you have found. The patterns that emerge may surprise you. You may see, for example, that certain locations have different numbers or types of associations. Those areas where few associations exist may be good targets for community development later on.

This type of mapping can also be done by computer, with an appropriate software program. These programs are more sophisticated than paper-and-pushpin mapping, as you can create "overlays," visually placing one category of map over another, for a more comprehensive view of the community.  

You can also just diagram your resources in a way that clearly show the linkages among different categories of assets.

(d) Using community assets

While there is value just in raising awareness of what exists in your community, the real value of asset mapping is realized when these assets are put to work for the benefit of the community. Some ideas from the Community Tool Box are:

  • You can publish the assets identified and make them available to all community members. In doing so, you will stimulate public asset knowledge and use. It may also attract new businesses and other opportunities to your community, thus using existing assets to create new ones.
  • You can use your knowledge of assets to tackle a new community project -- because now you may have more resources to work on that project than you originally thought.
  • You can find new ways to bring groups and organizations together, to learn about each other's assets -- and perhaps to work collaboratively on projects such as the one above.
  • You can publicize these assets, and attract new businesses and other opportunities to your community. In both this example, and the ones just above, (This is what makes community work exciting!)
  • You can set up structured programs for asset exchange, which can range from individual skill swaps to institutional cost-sharing.
  • You can establish a process by which community assets keep getting reviewed, perhaps on a regular basis.

Community Building Resources in Edmonton have reported the following examples of activities that have emerged from their Community Capacity Building and Asset Mapping© efforts:

  • a church beginning a community kitchen
  • a church started an employment program for refugees
  • a group developing a network of Walking Trails
  • a group developing a baby-sitting registry for new parents
  • a group working on community gardens
  • a Capacity Study team member was able to provide connections to a bookkeeper and a carpenter who were willing to provide their services either for free or inexpensively
  • a community group celebrating their history gathered 400 community citizens, conducted historical walks and bus tours in the community
  • businesses developing a Community Resource booklet[7]

While Kretzmann and McKnight propose conducting a full community asset map, many have found using a scaled-down approach to mapping particular types of assets to be helpful.  For example, in 2003 the Youth Community Asset Mapping initiative in Vancouver completed a mapping project focussed only on parks from a youth perspective. A core group of 13 youth was trained to facilitate workshops with youth in their communities, in which they mapped and evaluated their local park. The results of the workshops were compiled into 5 park maps and 1 ideal park map. The youth then presented the results of their park mapping to the Parks Board of Vancouver and engaged in discussions with the community on how to improve the park spaces for children and youth of the community.[8]

(e) Community Asset Mapping and Health Organizations

Health organizations may find themselves involved in an asset-mapping exercise initiated by another organization or community collaborative, or it may begin its own process, focussed on a specific area of interest. For example, many health organizations view their partnerships with other organizations as significant assets.  By mapping your organization's current partnerships, it is possible to identify ways of strengthening existing relationships as well as areas in which new partnerships would be beneficial. Here is one way of creating a visual partnership map.   

  • Invite a diverse group of stakeholders to participate in this exercise
  • Brainstorm all the partnerships, both formal and informal, that your organization currently has; name the specific organizations, not just the general category; e.g. "North London Kiwanis Club", not "service clubs".
  • Record them on a flipchart in a circle around the name of your organization. You could differentiate between formal (written agreement) and informal partnerships by having an inner and outer circle
  • Identify the type of partnership (e.g. funder, member, information-sharing)
  • Identify the assets shared by the partners; indicate with arrows on the map whether the sharing is unilateral or bi-lateral
  • Review the map and consider

(a) whether there may be additional resources that could be shared

(b) other ways in which the partnerships could be strengthened

(c) whether there are other community groups, organizations or institutions with which partnerhips may be beneficial.

  • Using the map as a point of reference, develop and implement a partnership strategy.

[3] Community Tool Box:; accessed Mar.15, 2008

[4] Kretzmann, John P. and John L. McKnight. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Towards Finding and Mobilising a Communit's Assets. ACTA Publications, Chicago, IL. 1993, p. 347.

[5] Community Tool Box:; accessed Mar.15, 2008

[6] Community Tool Box:

[7] Community Building Resources; accessed March 15, 2008

[8] Youth Community Asset Mapping Report.; accessed March 15, 2008

Exercise 1: 10 Steps to Community Development

In this exercise you are asked to envision yourself working in a situation where you are invited to participate in a community development initiative. Use your imagination to fill in the details of the actions you take and their results.

You may choose to print this page and complete the answers. Please click "Printer Friendly Version" at the bottom of the page.


You are the manager of a small health organization which has been established in a strip mall within a new suburban community. During its development, little thought was given to the needs of the residents once they moved in. There are no grocery stores or department stores within a 5 mile radius. There is a small stretch of green space along the river but no other parkland or playgrounds. There is an elementary school, surrounded by pavement but no playground equipment is in place. There is no pool, skating arena, public transportation or other community facilities. This is a mixed housing development, including smaller detached houses, townhouses, several three-story walk ups and an apartment building. Housing prices are lower in this community because of its proximity to a major highway and industries. Many of the residents are families with lower incomes who have moved to this location because of its relative affordability. Residents are from a variety of ethno-cultural groups but are scattered and do not have any facilities for gathering or worshipping together.

You have been approached by another worker in the area to work with her to help create a more supportive environment that will meet more of the residents' needs and develop positive social networks. You have just taken the OHCC Online Community Development Course and are excited at the prospect of putting the "10 Steps to Community Development" to into action.


Step 1.  Learn about the community

What are some of the ways you can learn about the community, on your own, before embarking on a community development initiative


Resources Required













Step 2. Listen to community members

(a)  How can you connect informally with community members?




(b)  How will you introduce yourself?




(c) What questions will you ask?



Step 3:  Bring people together to develop a shared vision

(a) Who will you invite?



(b) Where will you hold the visioning session?



(c) What outcomes do you hope to achieve at the gathering?



Step 4: Assess community assets and resources, needs and issues

Briefly describe two methods you might use to assess the community's assets, resources, needs and/or issues.

Type of Assessment


Description of Activity














Step 5: Help community members to recognize and articulate areas of concern and their causes.

Many issues and needs were raised at the community visioning session, along with several suggestions of possible sources of financial and in-kind resources. Five residents and several service providers indicated they would be interested in helping to work towards improvements in their community.

Your task is to follow up with those that indicated an interest in being involved and help them to process the results of the community visioning session. You will explore with them the areas of concern that were voiced, in more depth than was possible at the visioning session, and examine their root causes. You have decided to tackle this task by organizing a meeting.


(a) Who will you invite?



(b) How will you invite them?



(d) When and where will you hold the meeting?



(e) What do you hope will be the outcome of the meeting?



Step 6:  Establish a "vehicle for change"

In order for the community change effort to be effective, there needs to be some organizational structure and processes in place. In this case, at an initial meeting, those that indicated an interest in working together to improve the community decided to form a community coalition, made up of both organizations and residents.

(a) In addition to community residents, what (if any) organizations do you think should be recruited to join the coalition?




(b) What are some of the governing principles you think the coalition should adopt?  (e.g. How are decisions made? Who can speak on behalf of the coalition? How are coalition members informed of meetings and actions taken on behalf of the coalition?)




Step 7: Develop an action plan

For the purposes of this exercise, imagine that the coalition has selected a particular goal to pursue (for example, developing a welcoming and supportive community for newcomers to Canada, or establishing a park and playground within their community) Use the action planning chart below to identify what needs to be done, when, who should do it and what resources will be required.

Community Action Plan






Resources Required
































Step 8: Implement action plan

It is likely that funds will be required to implement the action plan.

(a) What are the risks, from a community development point of view, in accessing external funding and developing close working relationships with funding sources? How can the risks be lessened?




(c) Are there local funding sources that could be tapped?



Step 9:  Evaluate results of actions

The community coalition has worked hard with its many partners and supporters to meet their goal. How will you evaluate whether your project has been successful?


(a) What are your criteria for success?



(b) Who will be involved in the evaluation process?



(c) Using simple procedures, how will you assess the degree of success of your initiative?



(d) How will you assess the process of the initiative; i.e. how well the coalition functioned?



Step 10: Reflect and regroup

(a) What activities will help the group to "wrap up" the project?



(b) Are there any "spin off" benefits or unintended outcomes of the project? (use your imagination)



(c) How will you assess whether there is interest or energy for tackling another area of concern from the list developed at the community visioning session?



Exercise 2: Quiz

Match the community development activity with the corresponding community development strategy. Some activities may incorporate more than one strategy.


A.    Locality Development

B.    Social Action

C.    Social Planning

D.    Social Reform

E.    Community Relations

F.     Social Capital Formation

G.    Capacity Building

H.    Asset-Based Community Development


1.      The number of shelter beds Occupied is tracked on a nightly basis and the data compiled and analyzed by an inter-agency committee to aid in their service planning and coordination efforts.


2.      A multicultural festival is held annually in a multicultural neighbourhood.


3.      A youth centre provides youth with cameras and asks them to take pictures of their community, then display them with explanations about what they liked and didn't like about their community.

4.      On the recommendation of the local residents' council, the school board assists in organizing and staffing after school programs for children.


5.      A community meeting is arranged in an attempt to mediate between residents who are in favour of a new industry coming to town and those who are opposed to it.


6.      An inter-organizational "coffee time" is held once a month to promote information sharing and networking.


7.      A committee of senior citizens is formed to lobby the municipal housing corporation to develop a geared-to-income seniors' apartment complex in their community.


8.      An annual BBQ is held by the community centre to encourage residents to meet and interact with each other.


9.      Calls to the community information centre are tracked by topic and the data is used to enhance the library's resources in the areas of greatest interest.


10.  The community council invites City staff to attend a meeting and explain to residents who they should get in touch with at City Hall to report problems and tips on how to get issues dealt with effectively.


11.  A media campaign is launched to promote employment of persons with disabilities.


12.  The neighbourhood association sends out welcome letters to people that move into the area and invite them to join the neighbourhood association.


13.  A neighbourhood committee is formed to raise funds and work with the City to convert a brownfield into a park.


14.  The library partners with the federal government to provide access to a computerized "job bank" and also provides computer training programs to enable residents to use them.


15.  A community resource centre partners with several ethno-cultural organizations to develop a multi-lingual questionnaire conducted with residents in their own language to find out what experiences, skills and knowledge they had and if they were willing to share them.


16.  Neighbourhood residents write letters to the Library Board asking them to reconsider their decision to close their branch library.


17.  A series of workshops is held to build awareness of the structural basis of racism and oppression in our society.


18.  A community volunteer awards event is held to celebrate volunteerism and recognize extraordinary contributions.


19.   A group of concerned parents get together with school personnel to discuss and make recommendations to the school board regarding concerns about air quality within the school.


20.  A community forum involving residents, local government and community organizations is held to identify shared concerns and interests, develop a community strategic plan, determine the potential for sharing existing resources and explore opportunities for collaboration on projects and initiatives.


Click here to view the answers



[1] Adapted from Community Development, an OMAFRA Information Sheet: 1986

[2]City of Calgary. Community Assessment Handbook. (accessed Jan. 12. 08)

[3]Bartle, Phil. Empowering Communities. (accessed Jan 11, 2008)

[4]Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. From the Ground Up. 2002 p. 85

[5]Rothman, Jack, in Three Models of Community Organization Practice, their Mixing and Phasing" in Cox, F.M., et al Strategies of Community Organization. (3rd ed.) 1979. Itasca, Ill., F.E. Peacock Publishing; p. 25-45.

[6]Robert Putnam. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 2000

[7]The Search Institute. 40 Developmental Assets.

[8]Ross, Murray G. Community Organization. (2nd ed), 1967. Harper and Row, New York; p. 214-221.


Community Empowerment Training Modules by Phil Bartle, Ph.D.

Kretzman J. R and McKnight J. L Building Communities From the Inside Out – A Path Toward Finding and Mobilising a Community’s Assets: The Asset Based Community Institute, Chicago.1993.

Kenyon, P. Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), Bank of IDEAS (Initiatives for the Development of Enterprising Action and Strategies). Kalamunda WA, Accessed May 22, 2006.

Cox, Erlich. Rothman and Tropman (eds.) Strategies of Community Organization.  Peacock Pub., Itaska, Illinois.1979.

Robert Putnam. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon & Schuster, N.Y. 2000.  

Tamarack: An Institute for Community Engagement – Learning Centre. (accessed Jan 11/08)

Kenneth Pigg; “Community informatics and community development”  in Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society: Special Issue on Community Informatics and Community Development: 36:1, 2005

Behrat Mehra: “library and information science (lis) and community development: the use of information and communication technology (ict) towards a social equity agenda” in Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society: Special Issue on Community Informatics and Community Development: 36:1, 2005

The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. From the Ground Up: An Organizing Handbook for Healthy Communities. 2002.

The Search Institute.  Developmental Assets. Accessed March 5, 2006.


Module Three : Community Collaboration

Benefits of Collaboration

In almost any kind of community initiative, finding other groups and organizations with similar interests, that are willing to work with you on common issues or projects, is strategically advantageous.

Below is a list of the benefits that can result from collaborating with others:

Synergy: The synergy created from working collaboratively will result in greater accomplishments than each group working on its own could ever hope to achieve. If you work separately, it will fragment the efforts and the resources, possibly leading to less accomplishment.

Community Awareness: Increased participation leads to increased community awareness. By involving a number of organizations, your issue or message can be transmitted to a great many more people, and, through word-of-mouth with their associates, to an exponentially larger pool of people.

Share resources: The sharing of resources and expertise can make daunting tasks more manageable. Also, it may be that you require technical expertise, knowledge or facilities that your own organization cannot provide.

Overcome Obstacles: Obstacles faced by one group may be overcome by another group.
Effective Representation: A partnership, coalition or network has more power to influence policy than a single organization because a larger and broader section of the community is represented.

Avoid Duplication:
Working together can help ensure efforts and services aren’t being unnecessarily duplicated, and that there is an appropriate distribution of resources.

Access to Constituents: Sometimes one partner will have a high degree of organizational capacity for planning and implementing programs, but has not developed a trusting relationship with the community it wishes to serve, such as people with disabilities, aboriginal groups, grass roots community groups or particular ethno-racial communities. They may benefit from partnering with others who serve as a bridge into the community.

Access to funding sources:
There may be grant opportunities for which your organization is not eligible, but one of your partners is. By working as a collaborative these funds can be accessed to support your initiative.

Types of Collaborations

There are many different types of collaborative arrangements, ranging from loose network affiliations to fully collaborative structures with complex and formal relationships. The following is one set of categories used to indicate the nature of the relationship among collaborative members. However, in reality, collaboratives frequently develop a mix of the various attributes outlined in the following descriptions.

(i)  Networks

Members of a network have informal ties to each other and non-hierarchical relationships. There are few expectations of members and no official obligations.  Informal networks may emerge simply due to the clustering of people and activities, but frequently networks are deliberately established to promote the sharing of information, tools and resources among individuals and organizations with similar interests.

Networks have many benefits; they can:

  • enhance communication, co-operation and mutual support among organizations and community members
  • raise the standards and quality of services;
  • encourage the development of new models of service; and
  • provide opportunities to form strategic partnerships.

Networks generally do not carry out work, per se, although members may collaborate on tasks and activities, and so generally require relatively little investment in their development and maintenance. However, successful networks require a certain degree of coordination and management. Communication vehicles must be established and maintained, the network must be promoter to prospective members and members must be engaged.

The Ontario Health Promotion Resource System established a set of indicators of network effectiveness which may have relevance to other types of networks as well. They are:

  • the extent to which the relationships established within the network contribute to the planning and implementation of new programs or activities and take advantage of new opportunities;
  • the extent to which the members actually function as a network; [e.g., share information and resources, use common tools and templates, adopt similar administration and reporting procedures, use each others’ materials, make referrals to each other, link websites and otherwise interact with each other];
  •  the range of services and supports provided by the network as a whole;
  • the strength of the relationships between and among network members
  • the extent to which individual members of the network perceive the benefits of their involvement [1] 

(ii)   Alliances

Alliances involve more formal relationships among organizations and individuals, and usually focused on a particular issue or mission. While it is unlikely that there will be legal obligations in place, there will be clear expectations around task performance, contributions and conduct. Alliances are often formed as a means of influencing policy; either to formulate a strong response to a new policy that is seen as detrimental, or to advocate for the development of a policy.

(iii)   Coalitions

A coalition is formal relationship among more than two organizations and perhaps involving individual members as well, which enables them to work together on a specific issue or project. Quite often the coalition will have its own funds and staff, either allocated from members’ own organizational budgets and human resources, or funded by an external source. 

There are three main types of coalitions [2]: 

  • Grassroots coalitions form in times of crisis to pressure political decision-makers to act. They are usually organized by volunteers and are political, controversial and short-lived.
  •  Professional coalitions may form in time of crisis or as part of a long-term strategy to increase their power and influence. Usually a lead organization is established that contributes significant staff and financial resources.
  • Community-Based coalitions have broad community representation and involve both professionals and volunteers/grassroots leaders. They tend to be focused on positive action to improve conditions in community, worksites, schools or other local institutions. Often one agency takes a lead administrative role and seeks funding to support the coalition and its activities.

(iv)  Partnerships

In business, a partner is someone who shares both the risks and profits of a business venture.  Partnerships between non-profit organizations can be defined in similar terms – it is a relationship in which the organizations share resources and responsibilities to achieve a common objective, as well as any resulting rewards or recognition. Partnerships are formal relationships that are defined through a written agreement or contract. 

The Hamilton Public Library has posted a PowerPoint presentation on their website at
which shows a number of partnerships they have established and gives tips on developing and maintaining successful partnerships. According to the presentation partnership development requires:

  • time            
  • effort       
  • small steps
  • shared success       
  • trust         
  • respect       

(v)    Full Collaboration

When organizations fully collaborate on an initiative, the collaboration takes on its own identity.  In a full collaboration, the new entity will have its own budget, constitution or terms of reference, dedicated human resources and a plan of action. For example, walkON[3] is a community partnership including local Heart Health projects, municipalities, and public health Units formed to promote walkable communities by raising awareness and educating the public. walkON has its own website and produces its materials under the walkON logo. It has its own funding sources separate from those of the collaborating organizations.

Collaborative Roles

There are many different roles that organizations can play in terms of their relationship with each other, such as:

  • Convener: initiates a public discussion of a community issue
  • Catalyst: provides initial leadership and credibility but is committed to a longer-term strategy 
  • Conduit: acts as the “lead” organization in that it manages the necessary contractual and financial obligations that come with receiving grants.  It is important that the conduit not be allowed to dominate the initiatives as a result of taking on this role
  • Funder: provides financial resources, and may also be actively involved in the design and evaluation of the project.  A clear understanding of the scope and limit of their authority is required.
  • Technical Assistance Provider: provides data, technical information, professional opinions or particular skills
  • Capacity-Builder: provides resources and skills training to community members to increase their ability to effect change. Capacity-builders aim to increase skills, knowledge and resources, but also community power and ownership.
  • Partner: shares in risks, responsibility, investment and rewards.
  • Advocate: focuses on changing policy or systems
  • Community Organizer: interested in who is “at the table”; i.e. who is involved and who has decision-making power. The community organizer works to maximize community participation and to ensure that those who are traditionally excluded from decision-making are included as full partners in the process.
  • Facilitator: assists in community problem-solving process by liaising among various players and being a source of fairness, encouragement
  • Evaluator: provides information about how well the collaborative is performing and whether its objectives are being met. [4]


Challenges of Collaboration

While the vision of a collaborative may be very compelling, every day realities may pose considerable challenges and tensions. Before starting or joining a collaborative, it is important to have a clear understanding of the risks, challenges and expectations that are involved. Each organization has to assess the level of risk the collaborative entails to the organization, in terms of finances, reputation, time, energy and other “lost” opportunities, and decide if it is acceptable. You will want to have a clear understanding of the conditions for withdrawing from the collaborative, and be prepared to absorb any failures. What sounds good in theory may not work as well in practice, especially working within community settings where there are many variables beyond your control.

Probably the biggest challenge in developing and managing a successful collaborative is finding the time and energy to nurture the positive relationships required to function effectively, particularly in times of rapid change or increased pressure on resources. It is often commented that working collaboratively takes longer and is more complex, difficult and sometimes frustrating, but we may also develop superior solutions and have a greater impact.

Factors That Contribute To Successful Collaborations

The Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse (OPC) ( now known as Health Nexus) produced a tip sheet on “Dynamic Partnerships “in 1997 that provides reflections, references and resources about partnerships. It explains that “partnering with other organizations to support a common goal involves “an interdependence of elements along with increasing complexity that requires less competition and more crossing of boundaries and sectors”.

They identified eleven factors that contribute to successful partnerships and collaborations.

1.    People: Organizations do not work together, people do – thus individual characteristics will be a factor in whether the collaborative is successful or not.  Check out the “chemistry” between people and their level of commitment to the collaborative.

2.    Vision: Create a shared vision and common goals that incorporate all of the members’ perspectives and interests, and identifies mutual needs that cannot be met by one organization alone.

3.    Trust:  Take some time to explore your common ground. “Trust is built through mutual respect for each person’s experience, knowledge and contribution. “

4.    Time: Do not give in to the pressure for speed and action.  Getting to know each other in order to developing a solid partnership takes time, as does planning and implementation.

5.    Planning:  Working together effectively requires a great deal of planning. All aspects of the collaborative, including purpose, function, decision-making process, the risks and benefits to each member and anticipated results needs to be considered, agreed upon and committed to (usually by signing a written agreement). Subsequently, every meeting, every workplan, every approach to a prospective member or funder, has to be planned.

6.    Communication: There needs to be a transparent flow of information among members, and mechanisms for ensuring that all members are kept up-to-date on matters relating to the collaborative and have clear means of voicing concerns and suggestions.

7.    Learning Together: Partnerships involve learning about each other, about the issues or needs that are being addressed, and about how to work together effectively.

8.    Decision-Making: It is crucial that how decisions are made is agreed upon right at the start of the partnership and adhered to throughout its duration. Partners should also agree on a problem resolution process.  Agreements regarding the investment of people, time and resources need to be negotiated and clearly understood by all partners.

9.    Leadership: There are many options for leadership; e.g. elect a Chair or Co-Chairs, or establish different roles for different members. It may be formal or informal. Shared leadership can renew energy and increase commitment.

10.    Technology: Electronic communication can enhance and support the work of the partnership by facilitating connections and opportunities for innovation. An assessment of current systems and technical capacities of each of the members is required before effective information and communications systems can be established.

11.    Flexibility: As circumstances change, one or more members may not be able to contribute to the extent originally intended, or may not be able to remain involved at all. The remaining members will have to make adjustments accordingly.


Roberts, J. Alliances, Coalitions and Partnerships; Building Collaborative Organizations. New Society Publishers; 2004.

Torjman, Sherri and Eric Leviten-Reid. Comprehensive Community Initiatives. The Caledon Institute of Social Policy. 2003. March 5, 2006.

Himmelman, Arthur. Collaboration as a Bridge from Social Service to Social Justice. Paper presented at the Healthier Communities Summit in San Diego, April 1995.







Working Effectively Across Different Organizational Cultures

Conflict within collaboratives is often inevitable, due to different organizational values, cultures, levels of experience and degree of expertise among organizations. These differences make it difficult to work in harmony. Despite common concerns, organizations have their own “take” on the problem, and their own set of assumptions and preferred solutions. They may also have different expectations around decision making processes, information flow, time commitments, and how power, authority and responsibility is shared. Collaborating organizations don’t need to have the same culture in order to be successful, but they do need to understand and accommodate differences among them.

Questions that might be useful to ask before committing to the collaborative are:

  • Do partners have similar mandates? Do they overlap? Is there duplication?
  • Is there a conflict of interest among any of the participating organizations or with the aims of the collaborative? For example, is there likely to competition for funds?
  • How are decisions to be made? 
  • How will the work load be shared?
  • What constraints does each of the partners have in terms of costs, political concerns and approval processes?
  • What are the expectations in terms of time commitment; both in terms of the amount of time required for effective participation and whether there needs to be strict adherence to time frames; e.g. meetings stopping and staring on time, critical deadlines for task completion. 
  • Is there an expectation that some work will be handled by volunteers? How are they to be recruited? Who is responsible for their training and supervision? Are participating organizations or individuals expected to perform some work on their own time?

Tool 1: When to Start a Coalition




1. Does the problem affect a broad range of people?



2. Is the problem complex, requiring information and expertise from various sectors of the community?



3. Is there a need for broad public awareness or education to accomplish the goal?



4. Is there a gap in existing services or programs such that no existing organization is clearly mandated to take on this work?



5. Are there other organizations that see this problem as a priority?



6. Are there other organizations that are willing to work together to address the problem?



7. Is this problem best addressed through the joint ownership and responsibility of a number of organizations



8. Are the potential members of the coalition willing to relinquish individual control over the activities and outcomes of the coalition and actively engage in a collective process?



9. Are there potential members of the coalition willing to commit to and abide by democratic decision-making procedures?



10. Are the organizational goals and policies of the potential members in alignment iwth those of the coalition?



11. Are there resources that can be shared or obtained to assist with the work?



12. Is there a true commitment to work together and produce results, irrespective of funder requirements for collaboration?



If you responded “no” to any of the questions above, a coalition might not be an appropriate structure to accomplish your goals. 

(from Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition: From the Ground Up:
An Organizing handbook for Healthy Communities,. 2002)

Tool 2: Collaboration Framework

The following Collaboration Framework[1] compares the purpose, structure and process of different levels of collaboration.






  • Dialogue
  • Common Awareness
  • Information flow
  • Create support base
  • Non-hierarchical
  • Loose, flexible link
  • Roles loosely defined
  • Concern is primary link
  • Low key leadership
  • Low decision-making
  • Information Communication



  • Match needs
  • Provide some co-ordination
  • Limits duplicating services
  • Ensures tasks done


  • Central body of communicators
  • Semi-formal links
  • Roles somewhat defined
  • Links are advisory
  • Develops new resources
  • Joint budget



  • Facilitative leaders
  • Complex decision-making
  • Some conflict
  • Centralized communication (formal)



  • Share resources
  • Co-ordinate activities
  • Address common issues
  • Merge resource base
  • Create something new


  • Central body of decision-makers
  • Roles defined
  • Links formalized
  • New resources
  • Joint budget



  • Autonomous leadership
  • Focus is on issue
  • Group decision-making by task groups
  • Communication frequent and clear




  • Share ideas
  • Willing to pull resources from existing systems
  • Develop commitment
  • Minimum three years


  • All members involved in decision-making
  • Roles and time defined
  • Links formal
  • Written agreement
  • New resources
  • Joint budget



  • Shared leadership
  • Decision-making with all members
  • Communication is prioritized


  • Accomplish shared vision
  • Develop benchmarks
  • Build inter-dependent system
  • Consensus used in shared decision-making
  • Roles, time and evaluation formalized
  • Links are formal and written in work assignments
  • Leadership high
  • Trust level high
  • Productivity high
  • Ideas / decisions equally shared
  • Highly developed communication


[1] The Duffy Group, Partners in Planning; 1997.

Tool 3: Tips for Improving Coalition Functioning





1. Individual Members

  • members are confident in each others’ skills
  • diversity of ideas/perspectives
  • creativity
  • humour
  • openness to feedback, new ideas and criticism
  • willing to give and take re: time/profile/work/ information/ expertise


  • personal agendas; people who are in it:

–  to enhance image

–  to gain access to resources

–  to sabotage efforts

–  to push a certain idea

–  make them feel good

  • passive-aggressive personalities;
  • different levels of passion - real or perceived
  • undermine decision-process
  • personality conflicts
  • control issues
  • lack of flexibility
  • lack of understanding of health promotion concepts
  • tension between professionals and volunteers


  • look at potential coalition members to evaluate suitability; look for commitment towards outcomes and motivation and believe in the objectives of the coalition
  • terms of reference should include process for conflict resolution; use/increase skills in conflict management
  • get to know others on coalition
  • elect chair with good facilitation skills to manage disruptive members
  • provide skills training; orientation to members
  • create a “space” for community volunteers; differentiate role from professional members; provide time on agenda for their input and feedback.

2. Group Process

  • trust
  • respect
  • shared power
  • shared ownership
  • teamwork
  • team “check-ins”
  • defined roles
  • understand investments and benefits
  • mutual care and concern
  • have fun
  • wealth of resources within the group’ members willing to share resources


  • varying expectations
  • use of jargon, systems that some non-professional members do not understand or are not comfortable with
  • lack of understanding of stages of group development
  • role confusion
  • unequal resources of members
  • lack of respect for others’ viewpoints
  • lack of investment
  • lack of commitment to take on tasks, to work towards outcomes
  • lack of accountability
  • distrust
  • power imbalances
  • racism/sexism
  • resistance to change


  • set terms of reference or agreement that defines roles, investments,  benefits
  • take time to build good group process
  • set “ground rules” for how group members relate to each other
  • share ideas, life, “check-ins”, build in activities that show care and concern
  • let people offer what they can instead of expecting a certain level of participation
  • recognize value of coalition regularly/annually through evaluation and  celebration of accomplishments
  • address issues openly; re-identify goal and objectives, members roles; clarify values, principles, ground rules; if insufficient “common ground”, evaluate whether the group has what it takes to go on – consider disbanding.

3. Leadership

  • understanding of leadership and role of facilitator/chair


  • negative leadership style (e.g. controlling, not allowing input)


  • develop understanding of leadership and role of facilitator/chair
  • ensure all have input
  • work to consensus
  • have annual elections for leadership positions

4. Decision-Making Process

  • everyone has input
  • work towards consensus


  • hasty or inequitable decision-making


  • chair has  good facilitation skills
  • actively seek input from all members (silence is not the same as approval)
  • allow time for discussion; explore reasons for differences of opinion

5. Relationship With Member Organizations’ Senior Management


  • direction given by outside manager who doesn’t know what goes on inside the coalition
  • members not being able to make decisions - have to take it back to  own supervisor/board


  • need to obtain “buy-in” from senior management of member organizations
  • request delegation of authority to staff representative on coalition
  • members sign agreement that states investment, decision-making process, etc.

6. Achieving Objectives

  • accomplishment
  • creating positive change in community
  • good reputation
  • involvement of target group
  • access to resources
  • community buy-in
  • clear focus/purpose


  • lack of direction
  • different agendas
  • lack of resources
  • lack of follow-up
  • lack of evaluation



  • Lack of direction: develop strategic plan involving target population
  • Different agendas – diffuse and change/increase number of members with similar  commitment to group goal
  • Lack of resources:

    - go to agency CEO’s to request resources
    - members identify own resources to see what  they can contribution
    - review potential membership and their resources
  • Lack of follow-up: find out why - may be the person lacks skills/ knowledge/ experience: mentor with someone who is learning; if due to forgetting/ disorganized, provide check list to follow
  • Lack of Evaluation – create evaluation plan

7. Recruitment of New Members

  • new members join coalition to bring in new ideas, perspectives and resources


  • need to find new members due loss of members or to obtain needed skills, experience, access to resources, etc.


  • identify potential benefits of membership
  • plan outreach/communications strategy
  • make use of existing members’ contacts


Additional Resources

A Place at the Table: Participating in Community Building
  (accessed Feb. 23/08)

This website by Kathleen de la Peña McCook, Distinguished University Professor of Library and Information Science, University of South Florida, provides a discussion of comprehensive community collaboration, service integration and the national movement on building community.

Asset Based Community Development Institute
(accessed Feb. 23/08)

The Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD), established in 1995 by the Community Development Program at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, is built upon three decades of community development research by John Kretzmann and John L. McKnight.

Canadian Rural Partnership: Asset Mapping: A handbook  (accessed Feb. 23/08)

Developed by Tony Fuller, Denyse Guy and Carolyn Pletsch, this handbook describes three possible approaches to community asset mapping within rural communities. Within this context,, assets are defined as popularly recognized attributes and advantages of a community. They are considered essential for the maintenance of rural life and vital for the sustainability of the economy, society and environment in rural Canada.


City of Calgary Community Assessment Handbook. Click on City Hall/

Business Units/Community and Neighbourhood Services/Publications, Guides and Directories, then scroll down the left panel and click on Community Assessment Handbook. (accessed Feb. 23/08)

This manual describes the key elements and process for conducting a community assessment from beginning to end. It provides a framework and tools for actively learning about a community's needs and strengths and then setting priorities.   

Community Information and Services for Australians
(click on community development) (accessed Feb. 23/08)

This site contains many links to sources of information on community development, building social capital, sustainable communities, community networking, business and community partnerships. 

Community Empowerment Training Modules by Phil Bartle, Ph.D.
(accessed Feb. 23/08)

These training modules contain basic texts, model forms, short handouts for workshops, and notes for trainers. Each module has a single topic, with different documents in it for different actors or purposes.

Community Tool Box
(accessed Feb. 23/08)

The Community Tool Box is the world's largest resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It offers over 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement

Assets Network: Assets Library Glossary
(accessed Jan 11/08)

From the Ground Up: An Organizing Handbook for Healthy Communities
(accessed Feb. 23/08)

This handbook was written by staff and volunteers of the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition as a guide to individuals, groups and coalitions who want to start a Healthy Community initiative in their community. It gives information and tips on getting started, assessing community needs and assets, organizational development, planning, communication, leadership, partnerships, fundraising, evaluation and more. A glossary of terms, samples of forms and documents, and references for further information are also provided.

Tamarack: An Institute for Community Engagement - Learning Centre
. )accessed Feb. 23/08)

The Learning Centre, established in 2003, is designed to create a fluid, creative system of documenting community building activity and delivering this learning to organizations. The centre has a threefold purpose: to broadly disseminate knowledge gathered through research and practical experience; to help communities increase their power through learning; and to generate knowledge about community engagement so as to advance the field.

Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory (accessed Feb. 23/08)

This inventory was designed as a tool for assessing the factors that influence the success of a collaboration. Twenty such factors have been identified, and you will be provided with summary scores for each of these factors upon completion of the inventory.





Glossary of Terms

Health Promotion and Community Development On-Line Course

Glossary of Terms