FAQs Frequently Asked Community Development Questions

Think about the individuals with whom you have working relationships. For example, if you decide to partner with the faith community, list the members of the community you know or work with. Do you have a know a pastor or church member? Is that person willing to talk about your idea? Does that person believe your partnership benefits the community? Will they to gather key people together to discuss your proposal?

Answer these questions about any community, and consider partnering with that community. Begin slowly. Explain thoroughly to everyone you meet. You may feel you are saying the same thing over and over. Don't worry. Remember, with each new person or group, it's a new conversation. Lay a solid foundation to create a successful partnership.

Stakeholders represent their community. If you only select service providers, you won't complete a picture of what the community thinks, believes, and wants. Remember, service providers are a link to appropriate stakeholders, not the bulk of your group.

Prevention educators know what "underlying conditions" means. Others may not understand "underlying conditions."

A good facilitator listens, adjusts, and rephrases.

Do my stakeholders understand me? Do they understand "underlying conditions?"
If they don't understand, it's time to make a change, try a different set of words.
Change "Underlying conditions" to "the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that allow sexual assault to happen."
Do it all again
Keep listening, adjusting, and rephrasing until your stakeholders understand you.

There are as many ways to determine underlying conditions as there are facilitators.

The key to gathering information from stakeholders is giving them different ways to access their information. Some people enjoy brainstorming out loud in a large group. Others find that method confusing and become quiet, they sit and listen. If a person doesn't speak, we don't hear their ideas. Finding a way to work in pairs, small groups, and then in the large group can help quiet members. It gives them space to share what they know with us.

Sometimes it helps to have people list their own ideas on paper. Then share the list with partners or the group. There are many ways of compiling stakeholder information, including underlying conditions.

Documentation explains to others what you have done, and tracks your own progress. The following methods are used to document and provide evidence of completed work.

  • Stakeholder sign-in sheets
  • Letters of commitment from stakeholders and allies
  • Minutes from meetings
  • Announcements of meetings
  • Journaling the process of each meeting
  • Save brainstorming pages from the "chart pack"
  • Use the "Sexual Assault Prevention Plan" worksheet provided in training packets
  • Save samples of all materials produced
  • Save training certificates to show Orientation and Continuing Education training

The key to good documentation is doing it as you go along. When it is part of your process, it's easy.

It isn't easy to document something after the fact. Reconstructing minutes from memory is hard. If you don't document stakeholder attendance at meetings, you haven't collected the evidence. Do not wait to document! Do it as you go along.

Every group is different. Some groups design a basic plan in a 3 to 4 hour meeting. Others take several meetings.

The keys are to know all the plan elements and to keep the group on task. Providing notes and minutes to participants will ensure continuity over several weekly meetings.

It's normal to take time getting started. A successful process requires one-on-one conversations. Building a stakeholder group and connecting to the community takes preparation. Laying a foundation builds readiness and commitment. Once you begin meeting, the process will have "visible" results.

An exception is an "opportunity for action". This occurs when a community experiences a situation calling for an immediate response. Local stakeholders identify themselves and commit to a planning process. Later you are invited to join. Sexual assault programs are often asked to provide expertise, but these are community and issue driven initiatives. If you capitalize on an opportunity for action, you can build meaningful relationships.

The model is the same for every group, but make adjustments as needed.

  • Match your language to the group, adjust it if your audience doesn't understand.
  • Match your planning activities to the group, adjust if the activities aren't working.

Adults may be able to sit still longer. Young people respond to activity-based interaction. There are many ways to accomplish the basic tasks of condition identification, visioning, marking progress, and planning activities to address the conditions. Learn from your group of stakeholders. Discover the most effective ways to work together. Your flexibility in accomplishing tasks allows the work to be done.