Community Development Practice Hub

Community Development Practice Hub

The Community Development Practice Hub is a resource for people and organisations who ‘work with’ people in Birmingham so they can take collective action to make changes to things that are important to them and their communities. 

We aim to connect, inspire and upskill community development practitioners across Birmingham.

Come join us on this exciting journey, as we collaborate with the sector to offer a tailored approach with a focus on Birmingham-specific learning, challenges, and achievements.  

Asset Based Community Development or ABCD aims to strengthen communities by recognising, identifying, and activating the skills, resources, experience, knowledge, connections, and passions within them. It acknowledges that individual gifts become powerful when they are connected.  

The approach was developed by John L. McKnight and John P. Kretzmann at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University in the USA, in the early 1990s. By applying the principles of ABCD, citizens become active participants in the process of community development, not recipients of a service. Moreover, by putting local community members in control, they take the lead in making the changes that they want, which offers a strategy for sustainable community-driven development.

ABCD builds on the assets already found in a community and mobilizes them. The key is to empower the community's people by encouraging them to utilize what they already possess. It is an approach to community development that is locally rooted and citizen-led, empowering people to work together to make the changes that matter most to them.

ABCD acknowledges the needs and problems in a community, but the approach fosters hope by shifting our focus from "what's wrong" to "what's strong".

In contrast, a 'deficit' model or needs-based approach focuses only on individuals and communities' perceived problems and weaknesses. It assumes that only those from outside the community can offer solutions and resources. Community development professionals (and other external agents) should play a catalysing role in ABCD, focusing on enabling communities to drive their development.

Comparison Between the Approaches

Asset Based

Deficit Based
Strengths focused    Needs focused
Inward Focused  Outward focused
Opportunity driven Problems driven
What can we build upon?  What's missing?

Principles that guide ABCD include:

  • Everyone Has Gifts
  • Relationships Build a Community
  • Citizens at the Centre
  • Leaders Involve Others as Active Members of the Community
  • People Care About Something
  • Motivation to Act
  • Listening Conversation
  • Ask, Ask, Ask
  • Asking Questions Rather Than Giving Answers Invites Stronger Participation
  • A Citizen-Centered "Inside-Out" Organization is the Key to Community Engagement
  • Institutions Have Reached Their Limits in Problem-Solving
  • Institutions as Servants