Unlocking Assets for Your Community

What are assets?

When taking forward any community action, planning, or prioritising, it is important to consider the range of assets within the community. This must include a community’s assets in the widest sense; assets we can see – ‘tangible’ assets, like a building or money, and those we can’t see – ‘intangible’ assets, like people’s skills. Tangible and intangible assets are equally important for the wellbeing of people and communities.


Assets can be grouped under the following headings:

  • Financial: Financial capital plays an important role in the economy, enabling other types of capital to be owned and traded.
  • Built: Fixed assets which facilitate the livelihood, culture, and wellbeing of the community.
  • Social: Features of social organisation such as networks, social norms, and mutual trust that help cooperation for community benefit. Social capital often links to place, people, culture and religion/spirituality.
  • Human: People’s health, knowledge, skills and motivation. Human capital can be enhanced through education and training.
  • Natural: Landscape and any stock or flow of energy and material that produces goods and services.
  • Resources: Renewable and non-renewable materials.
  • Cultural: Shaping how we see the world, what we take for granted, and what we value.
  • Political: The ability of a community to influence the distribution and use of resources.

Information sourced from the Appreciating Assets report by the International Association for Community Development and the Carnegie UK Trust.


The rural advantage..

Rural and remote areas have a real advantage in natural assets, both in terms of landscape and environment, and in natural renewables. There are hundreds of examples worldwide of rural community experience in management and ownership of land and land-assets, demonstrating the strength of social enterprise approaches, which have unlocked the potential of those assets for community benefit.


Human assets..

In terms of human assets, it is often more difficult for people to see their own skills, knowledge or experiences as valuable. Yet, this is the core element of unlocking assets within the community. People are the most valuable asset in communities, and their individual skills (when used together) are key to achieving your goals. Therefore, it is essential to involve local residents in your project, and encourage them to take shared ownership in the project. By making sure that people’s involvement is valued and appreciated, they will feel empowered to keep contributing to the wider community benefit and shared ambition of the community.


Including young people..

The inclusion of young people is essential for succession planning, which will enable your project to flourish into the future. It is useful to consider young people as assets, as they bring a host of digital skills which can help with engagement, planning and delivery, and wider communication. Organisations should engage young people by creating local opportunities to ensure the retention of youth population in rural and remote areas, and reduce the out-migration of young people.


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