The Four Essential Elements of an Asset-Based Community Development Process

What is Distinctive about an ABCD Process?

Click here to download the full paper

The primary goal of an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) process is to enhance collective citizen visioning and production. This paper discusses each of four essential elements in detail in an effort to answer the following question: “what is distinctive about an Asset-Based Community Development process?”

The central question that we address in this paper is: what makes an ABCD process distinctive from other community support approaches? Our answer is: other forms of community work, often possess one or more, but not all four essential elements (described in detail in the paper we invite you to download and read). What makes an ABCD process distinctive then, is the combination of:

  1. Resources
  2. Methods
  3. Functions
  4. Evaluation


The diagram below illustrates the relationship between the four essential elements of an asset-based community development process, which is neither hierarchical or sequential. In other words, the elements exist in relation to each other simultaneously and dynamically, so you can start with any one or a combination of the four elements, as long as ultimately you engage with all four. Hence it is only when all four elements are a feature of your community building effort, that it can be said to be an Asset-based Community Development process.

Read the full paper here.

Re-posted by permission of the authors.

About the Lead Author

John McKnight
John McKnight
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

The Latest

Unlocking Community Ownership in Ft. Wayne, IN

When neighbors are at the center of generating ideas and creating their visions, local resources, gifts and talents can...


More Articles Like This