3.3 Learn About Organizational Assets

This section discusses learning about associations and institutions in your community.


Associations are groups of community members who gather together voluntarily around a common interest or goal. Associations are key to getting the community involved in your teen services.

  • Since associations are already formed around an interest, topic, or area, their potential contributions can be easier to identify. They may have expertise, equipment or other specialized resources to share. They can also be a source of donations or facilities.
  • Associations may already have outreach programs or services for the community that can be modified for use with your teens.
  • Find out what the association’s goals and mission are. This can help you find ways that getting involved with the library will help the association.
  • The smaller and more informal an association is, the less documented it will be. As you are talking to individuals, ask them what kinds of associations they belong to or know of.

Kretzmann & McKnight1 have identified many different types of associations, including:

Artistic organizations
Business organizations
Charitable groups & drives
Church groups
Civic event planning committees
Community support groups
Senior groups
Health & fitness groups
Interest and hobbyist clubs
Local media (neighborhood newsletter, etc.)
Mens’, Womens’, and Youth Groups
Neighborhood groups
Outdoor groups
Political organizations
School groups
Self-help groups
Service clubs
Sports leagues
Study groups
Veteran groups


Institutions (as defined by ABCD) are groups of people brought together professionally – such as business, schools, government agencies. They often have many resources that can be shared with the community.

  • Even more than associations, institutions are likely to have outreach programs at the ready for the community.
  • Institutions are also more likely to have space or money to help your teen services.
  • An institution’s hiring practices can be one of its assets.2

Methods for learning more

Depending on your situation, you can use surveys or focus groups to learn more about your community’s assets. You can also use the methods described in the Capacity module (interviews and town halls), or any combination of methods.


Surveys are a good option for getting succinct information from a large number of people, especially quantitative information. The response rate is often low, however, and you may not always be able to follow-up with respondents to get a better understanding of their responses.For people who are not literate and people who primarily speak other languages, you may need to conduct in-person interviews or provide the survey in multiple languages3. Surveys can be conducted face-to-face, online, by mail, by phone, or on paper that is distributed in the library or at library events2.


Focus groups allow you to guide the discussion around a specific question. It is important to have a diverse set of participants so that you don’t just hear one perspective. Focus groups may be cheaper and/or less time-consuming than extensive surveys (depending on how they are administered), and can provide deeper insights. However, you cannot hear from as many people in a focus group.

In addition, consider the following sources when you are identifying assets:

  • Directories like the yellow pages, or a list of local businesses from your Chamber of Commerce2.
  • Your local newspaper or community newsletter, along with community bulletin boards in coffeehouses, community centers and other gathering places2.
  • Existing networks– do you already have partners that can help you identify assets and reach out to contacts? You can also try making new connections to ask for help–civic associations, clubs and coalitions, etc.
  • Other Community Institutions like hospitals, churches, and parks and recreation facilities.

For a small project, focus on pre-existing resources (directories, databases). For more in-depth information, focus on people who are easy to reach out to (patrons, partners) or who are key community members.

1: Building communities from the inside out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community’s assets, p. 30-31, p. 13, p. 110, p. 17, p. 27-28. By John Kretzmann and John McKnight, 1993. Chicago, IL: ACTA Publications.

2: Community asset mapping and surveys, p. 222, p. 217, by G. P. Green. In R. Phillips & R. Pittman (Eds.), An Introduction to Community Development, 2014. New York, NY: Routledge.

3: Community Assessment Tools: A Resource for Rotary Projects. Rotary International, 2015.