Effective community development has three qualities. It is asset based, internally focused, and relationship driven.

  • Asset based  means that the focus is on discovering what can be productive in a community. What do we already have that will allow us to do something worthwhile?
  • Internally focused  recognizes that the best starting place is what can be found inside a community. The people who live in a community are the key contributors to community development that works.
  • Relationship driven  reminds us that communities only get strong through connections among people that permit people to give their gifts.
Needs, Services, Consumers; Assets, Connections & Contributions, Citizens

What is asset mapping? 

Asset-mapping is an asset-based community development (ABCD) practice for creating an inventory of assets available in a given community. By approaching a community from a place of strength, the community is better able to leverage assets to build and improve its future. Asset maps are valuable tools for planning within a community and for developing inter-agency partnerships because they allow people to identify the assets in their community while working alongside other organizations and residents.

What qualifies as an asset?

There are five core categories of assets in a community: individual, voluntary associations, institutions, physical/economic and culture/stories. 


3 Steps to Increase and Support Resident Engagement

  1. Use learning conversations to discover the gifts and passions of the residents
  2. Ask people to get involved, and share their gifts around the issues they care about.
  3. Connect people with the same passions to act collectively for the common good.




8 Steps to Resident Engagement Asset Mapping Process

  1. Identify the initial neighborhood boundaries.
  2. Prepare an initial asset map of the neighborhood – Tape a large piece of paper on the wall and have the team draw the boundaries, streets, and assets of their neighborhood.
  3. Create a gifts survey to identify the gifts (skills, knowledge and abilities) and passions (the issues they care about so much that they are willing to get involved if asked).
  4. Interview people they know to identify resident gifts and passions. A 10-member resident leadership team can generate more than 100 completed surveys in a very short time.
  5. Add the residents to the asset map. – Map the residents using the following three step process:
    1. Group the surveys by what people care about – that is their motivation for action.
    2. Assign a different colored sticky dot to each passion ( i.e. Kids/Red, Seniors/ Blue, Safety/Yellow, Animals/Green, etc.)
    3. Write the resident's name on the sticky dot and place it on the map where they live.
  6. Connect residents that live close together with the same passions and ask them to come together to share their gifts to accomplish something related to their passion.
  7. Continually ask people to bring more residents into the action.
  8. Recognize and Celebrate successes. – To sustain and grow engagement and action we need to always take time to recognize and celebrate our successes. Keep it fun!
source: Eight Steps to Increase and Support Resident Engagement adapted from H. Daniels Duncan Consulting, @HDanielsDuncanConsulting



For in-depth articles and case examples, visit the Community Innovation Network's public library on Mendeley. Papers can be found in our reading group, and are sorted using category tags.


While myriad resources exist for asset-mapping, the best place to start is with the Asset Based Community Development Institute. Their main resource page hosts a variety of useful asset-mapping tools.