Mapping the Assets of Your Community: A Key Component for Building Local Capacity

in Asset-Based Community Development, Organizing

From the abstract to Mapping the Assets of Your Community: A Key Component for Building Local Capacity , by Lionel J. Beaulieu, Southern Rural Development Center:

Asset mapping is an effective tool for understanding the wealth of talent and resources that exists in each community–even those with small populations or suffering from poverty and economic distress. The long-term development of a community rests on its ability to uncover and build on the strengths and assets of its people, institutions, and informal organizations.

View Oakland Resource Map in a larger map

[This is an example of an asset map using Google Maps. I found a user-generated map, put together in 2009 by someone identified only as Meghan, then added more resources, mainly in West Oakland. Took me about 30 minutes. - Leo]

Five steps are presented for applying the asset mapping model. The beginning point involves an effort to map the community’s assets, including the talents of local residents and emerging leaders (pdf), local institutions (pdf), informal community and neighborhood organizations (pdf), and existing community leaders (pdf) who are committed to building a more vibrant community.

Next, relationships should be built between residents, institutions, and informal groups. This involves providing opportunities for emerging leaders to have an active voice in long-term economic development strategies for the community.

Step 3 involves mobilizing these identified resources for economic development.

Step 4 is convening the community to develop a shared vision for the future. This requires active discussions, debates, and disagreements that identify which priority issues need to be dealt with first.

Finally, outside resources that can support local priority activities should be located. Communities that have local partnerships firmly established can ensure that outside resources are used to support the community’s priorities.

[A 36-slide PowerPoint presentation that accompanies this workbook is available for download here]

Survey of Interests, Needs, and Skills (INs)

in Asset-Based Community Development, Organizing

Here’s a tool you might be able to use to get a better appreciation of the interests, skills, and needs of your constituents, and to help them connect with one another, and with other local resources. You can download the pdf by clicking on the image below. You can also edit and download the form, in spreadsheet format, here (some formatting was lost in the file translation).

The form was designed for residents of multi-family subsidized housing communities. We didn’t use some of items from the original Capacity Inventory (Kretzmann & McKnight 1993), but kept them in a separate tab (Skills, column J), so you can just copy & paste as needed.

Most respondents completed the form in under eight minutes, with some, who answered the open-ended questions at the end of the survey, taking up to 15 minutes.

Matt Singh (a fellow founder of the Idealist Silicon Valley group) and I developed the form, which we derived (with thanks) from several sources:

We’d appreciate your feedback. And as we roll this out to more residents, we’ll need online/offline tools to make it easier for them to match their interests, needs, and skills with those of their neighbors. Any ideas?

Capacity Inventory samples

in Asset-Based Community Development, Organizing

Source: Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization’s Capacity | The Habitat Exchange.

A. From Greyrock Commons Co-Housing Community


    Things I know something about and would enjoy talking about with others, e.g., art, history, movies, birds.
    Things or skills I know how to do and would like to share with others, e.g., carpentry, sports, gardening, cooking.
    Things I care deeply about, e.g., protection of the environment, civic life, children.

capacity inventory

B. From the New Prospect Baptist Church


Gifts are abilities that we are born with. We may develop them, but no one has to teach them to us.

1. What positive qualities do people say you have?

2 Who are the people in your life that you give to? How did you give it to them?

3. When was the last time you shared with someone else? What was it?

4. What do you give that makes you feel good?


Sometimes we have talents that we’ve acquired in everyday life such as cooking and fixing things.

1. What do you enjoy doing?

2. If you could start a business, what would it be?

3. What do you like to do that people would pay you to do?

4. Have you ever made anything? Have you ever fixed anything?


Goals you hope to accomplish.

1. What are your dreams?

2. If you could snap your fingers and be doing anything, what would it be?