Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Social enterprise examples
Achieving Better Community Development (ABCD)
Achieving Better Community Development (ABCD) is a general framework for planning, evaluating and learning from community development interventions. It encourages those involved in community development – whether as funders, policymakers, managers, practitioners, volunteers or community members, to be clear about what they are trying to achieve and how they should go about it. It also helps them to develop a theory of how community development happens and how to measure the changes along the way. It does not provide prescriptive measures or processes for an organisation to use, but sets out a broad framework.
The main principles the framework espouses are:
Figure 1: The ABCD Model
ABCD identifies community development as an activity that confronts disadvantage, poverty and exclusion, and promotes values of active citizenship, learning, and community participation. The ABCD approach argues that evaluation is central to effective performance, and in community development activities, it should be conducted with communities themselves. In this way, a shared view about what change needs to take place and how that will occur can be developed.
The ABCD approach has three key ideas:
1. The cycle of change.
Figure 1 sets out the key relationships in the ABCD model. Along the bottom are the four dimensions of community empowerment that the model states should be built into any community development activity, whether with groups of interest and identity, or with communities of place:
The centre of the diagram represents the context in which change takes place.
Government and local government agencies, as well as companies and parts of the voluntary sector are responsible for policy, management and service delivery in social, economic and environmental development. Community development asks them to engage with communities in accordance with the dimensions of community empowerment, in order to work collaboratively towards the outcomes of ‘sustainability’, or long-term viability of the community; ‘liveability’, or community satisfaction; and ‘equitability’, or community safety.
Figure 1 offers a framework within which all stakeholders in the community development process can locate themselves, and identify the relationships which should be built to achieve change. Each of the boxes in the diagram is explained in more detail in the ABCD handbook, to give the organisation using the model more detailed understanding of its contents.
The model can then be used to develop a planning and evaluation framework for any community development intervention. It focuses on providing a general framework through which organisations can think about what community development means to them. The practical measures for involving stakeholders are left to the discretion of the organisation itself.
The key stages in this are:
ABCD’s focus is community development but can be used in other areas. Its primary application is for monitoring and evaluation but ABCD has also been used in planning, skill development, needs assessment, visioning and in staff supervision.
Any individual within an organisation can lead an ABCD, though management or senior-level guidance would be useful.
Proficiencies or skills
Previous formal or informal experience in the collection and presentation of data for monitoring and evaluation would be useful. Knowledge of or a background in involving people in participation processes would also be to the organisation’s advantage when deciding how to facilitate the participative elements of the tool.
The tool is flexible and can be used during one day to focus upon one part of the framework, or over several months involving the whole organisation, its stakeholders and significant staff time.
Courses, support, and information
The Scottish Community Development Centre has free information and summaries of the tool. The ABCD Handbook is available from the The Community Development Foundation (CDF) website for around £10 as well as the ABCD Trainers Resource Pack costing around £30 along with other relevant publications. Details of publications and a two-day residential training course for around £300 run across the UK can be found at www.cdf.org.uk
Details on consultancy and trainers can also be found via Scottish Community
Development Centre through the ABCD website
ABCD was developed in Scotland and funded from 1997–2000. Designed to enhance the practical skills of community development workers and agencies in planning and evaluating projects, programmes and policies, the Scottish Community Development Centre (a partnership of the Community Development Foundation and the University of Glasgow) is responsible for its dissemination.
According to the developers of ABCD, organisations that have used ABCD include those working in the following areas: