IFAS Community Development: Empowering Your Community, Stage 2, Organization of Sponsorship 1 M ark .A. Brennan Christine Regan Muthusami Kumaran, Michael Spranger, and Randall Cantrell 2 This paper is part of a series of discussions on community development. This series includes specialized papers on civic engagement, community action, and other topics important to the developm ent of community. Introduction Community action is a participatory and dynamic process, not simply a static occurrence. The first action stage, initiation (Marcus Brennan, Kumaran, Spranger, and Cantrell 20 13 ), spreads interest in and increases awareness of community issues /needs and lays the foundation for the second stage, organization of sponsorship This second stage continues the process of increasing awareness and primarily focuses on establishing group structure and the organizing of resources needed for grassroots organizations, non profits, and/ or other groups to achieve their goals (Wilkinson, 1991). Such factors are important in relation to assessing community assets and needs, and to the formation o f action efforts to address perceived problems (Wilkinson, 1970; Wilkinson, 1991). Organization of sponsorship is characterized by the development of formal and informal partnerships among diverse social groups and organizations that cut across social and economic lines. These partnerships and channels of communication set the stage for action efforts that meet the general needs of the entire community (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff a nd Bridger, 2003, Theodori, 2004). Partnerships can give formal group structure to a focused community action, while simultaneously allowing for maximization of resources. Organization of Sponsorship for Community Action The organization of sponsorship in the community action process often involves the creation of a new group or the adaptation of an existing group to deal with some local problem or issue (Wilkinson, 1970). This process involves coordination and integration of actions within and across various segments of a community This is accomplished through the formation of diverse networks and associations among individuals within different organizations. These linkages assure continued interactio ns across social groups or interest lines that go beyond the lifespan of any one single action issue (Wilkinson, 1991; Luloff and Bridger, 2003). Sustaining interest of various stakeholders in community action beyond the resolution of certain issues is a key to long term community development. Establishing a group structure and identifying community assets are the keys to the organization of the sponsorship stage. These can take many forms including: c onvening a meeting of interested parties to discuss a course of action asking local governmental officials to take responsibility for common needs forming a committee of concern ed citizens to address the issue In forming a new action group, the members should be both reflective of the diverse residents of the community and united under an agenda of common needs and interests. This allows for individuals and organizations with distinct, but interrelated pursuits, to come together for community action. Equally important is the identification of community assets (financial, human, social, and physical), which possibly can be used in achieving community action goals. Fo r example, resources can include: identifying fund raising opportunities and mobilizing other financial resources finding legal help to resolve issues developing an inventory of skills and capabilities of community members and groups asset mapping assessing local human and financial resources classifying local organizations into categories to coordinate organizing a council of agencies Including Organization of Sponsorship in Cooperative Extension Work When structure and resources are developed during the organization of sponsorship stage, a foundation for expanding community action efforts and the development of programs emerge Recognizing the human, social, physical, and financial assets present among change agents allows for a pooling of the resources necessary to achieve effective community action. The organization o f
sponsorship stage of community action is therefore vital to long term program development and the development of action plans. Organization of sponsorship can include the following efforts: 1. Develop the framework for forming a group structure An assessment must be made regarding whether to create a new group or adapt an existing group to deal with some local issue s or needs In order to make this assessment, there are several actions that can take place, such as calling a meeting of interested parties to plan for action, putting an ad in the local newspaper or community bulletin boards asking local government al officials to take responsibility for common needs or issues, appointing a committee to address the issue, or forming a new group/committee to address the issue and build community networks to resolve those issues. Through these and other efforts, a diverse group of individuals wh o share common and unique ideas emerges. This framework allows for diversity in the decision making process and enables a variety of or ganizations or members to be linked and work towards a common goal. Based on the interest and experience of these individuals, duties and roles can be developed to advance the community group's goals and objectives. 2. Establish a decision making structure to prepare for goal setting and strategic planning Once a group structure is in place, a strategic plan must be developed. In order for the plan to be developed and implemented properly, a hierarchy or structure must be determined by all individuals involved. Forming a Board of Directors or an ad hoc commi ttee are two ways to handle this. The formation of subcommittees to address specific components of the action plan can also emerge at this stage. This structure will evolve over time as new members with special knowledge/skills are brought in, and as the c omplexity of the action plans become evident. Without such structure in place, the goal and vision setting and strategy development that take place in stage three will be very challenging. 3. Identify community resources It is important to maximize existin g resources within a community. Resources can take a variety of forms (financial, human, and physical). Different social groups have access to different resources; therefore, pooling resources is more conducive to accomplishing joint action and assists in reaching a wider community with the action efforts. Pooling resources can include: assessing and consolidating financial resources coordinating legal assistance assessing the action agendas of other local groups assessing and coordinating local huma n resources Assessing and coordinating local physical resources 4. Develop a strategy for allocating resources Once resources are identified, a strategy must be developed to allocate those resources effectively and in a timely manner. T he key here is to be able to apply resources to accomplish multiple goals and needs. Included would be actions to determine wh ich other community organizations or groups are addressing the same issue or need. Such action is important to avoid duplication of attempts to address issue s or need s Partnerships and collaboration with such groups can then be undertaken to utilize resources effectively and enhance partnerships. For example, if a community is trying to address teenage pregnancy, and an organization is alread y teaching courses on family planning, perhaps the new ly formed group could provide follow up information in a brochure or on its Web site. Effective resource allocation involves collaborating with other community organizations, examining loca l and state resources, and long term planning of such allocation. Conversely, m isusing resources can stifle the community action process. Summary Organization of sponsorship is the second key step in the community action process. In this stage, the newly formed or already existing group, formally comes together and assesses the resources necessary to develop visions, goals, and a strategic plan. Stage two allows a diverse group of citizens to initiate social change through focused community action. This collaboration not onl y enhances individual community member's well being and sense of attachment to the community, but also allows them to see how coll aborative efforts can be effective in producing change within their community. Ultimately, organization of sponsorship provid es a strong group structure, which is the basis for stage three of the action process: visioning, goal setting, and strategy format ion. References and Useful Reading
Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, M. Spranger and R. Cantrell. 2013 The Importance of Local Community Action in Shaping Development EDIS Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS 9209. Luloff, A.E., and J. Bridger. 2003. Community Agency and Local Development. Pp. 203 213 in, Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty First Century edited by D. Brown and L. Swanson University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Marcus, J., M.A. Brennan, M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and EDIS. Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS 9210. Theodori. G. 2004. Preparing for the Future: A Guide to Community Based Planning College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension Service. Rural Sociology. 35 (1): 54 68. Wilkinson, K.P. 1991. The community in rural America New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1991. Suggested Websites The Asset Based Community Development Institute. www.abcdinstitute.org The Community Development Society. http://www.comm dev.org/ Community Resource Group. http://www.crg.org/ Civic Practices Network http://www.cpn.org/ International Association for Community Development. http://www.iacdglobal.org/ Footnotes 1. This document is FCS9227, one of a series of publications on Community Development from the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First Published: September 2005. Revised: August 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.i fas.ufl.edu 2. Mark A. Brennan, former Assistant Professor of Community Development, Christine Reagan former graduate student, Muthusami Kumaran, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management and Community Organizations, Michael Spranger, Professor and Extension Specialist for Community Development, and Randall Cantrell, Assi s tant Professor and Extension Specialist for Housing and C ommunity Development, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611.