With many charities feeling the financial impact of the pandemic, its now more important than ever to ensure that your processes are as efficient as possible. It’s also crucial to check whether they effectively deliver results for the communities you serve. This is why organisations such as Global Giving and The Global Fund for Community Foundations have conducted research into the concept of ‘community-led change.’ They’ve found that too often, the tools funders are using do not reflect the community’s perspective or preferences. So what can you do to build community-led thinking into your approach? And how can you equip your staff with the resources they need to always put the community at the centre of their work?
Building community-led thinking
Every charity requires different strategies to effectively carry out its work. But there are some useful common approaches to support community-led thinking. They are based on empathy, understanding and empowering communication with the communities being served:
- Assess the needs of a community by speaking to the community directly
- Define a focus for giving and innovation, running proposed solutions by the community
- Develop the skills to better understand resistant counselling clients
- Give communities with a say in the allocation of funds raised
- Keep evaluating the needs of your community, as they might change
These strategies and more can all be useful methods of building community-led thinking into your work. In turn, those you serve in the course of your charity work will experience greater benefits and more actionable solutions to their needs.
But one of the best things you can do for those you help is to leave them with the right resources to find their own solutions and maximize the effectiveness of your work.
Resources to support a community-led approach
Your toolkit of resources will vary depending on the kind of charity work you do. However, every charity can draw from the same pool of available tools to enact greater change.
Here are just some of the sources of knowledge available to you:
- Government grants and assistance for non-profit work
- Online courses on everything from treating trauma on the front lines to maximizing fundraising efforts
- Books and publications intended to help individuals through difficult life experiences
- Pro-bono legal support
- Hubs for volunteer help and non-profit resources
Communication is the key
It might sound obvious, but frequent communication with your beneficiaries is the key. It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to deliver a five year strategy, only to find out that the priorities for your community have changed, and you need to change your approach. Make sure you have a way of regularly touching base with community representatives and conducting effective qualitative research into your needs. That way you can be confident that you’re delivering the right support.