What does it mean to be community‑led? Community leaders’ perspectives on principles, practices and impacts (Part 1)

GlobalGiving, as part of its mission to make it easier for funders to identify, support, and strengthen community‑led approaches, engaged the GFCF to understand how to define “community‑led” and to develop internal tools that would help their team identify community‑led grantee organizations. Over 2020, the GFCF, along with field partners in six countries, engaged in participatory research with knowledgeable local community leaders to:

  • Explore what community‑led approaches look like in practice;
  • Gather evidence of such approaches and their long‑term impact; and,
  • Discover how funders’ policies and practices promote or inhibit community‑led approaches.

One output of the research is the Community‑Led Assessment Tool, that will help GlobalGiving determine the degree to which organizations are community‑led. The Tool considers nine essential characteristics of community‑led work (considered universally applicable) and 17 important characteristics (applicable depending on context). This report details the research approach and methods, key findings, the tools and options for operationalizing them, and recommendations for how GlobalGiving can increase support for community‑led approaches among funders and other external audiences.


Authors: Research leads Dana Doan and Mary Fifield. The report was made possible by the dedication and expertise of the field partners involved: Artemisa Castro Felix, Fondo Acción Solidaria A.C.; Barbara Nöst, Zambian Governance Foundation; Juliya Khodorova and Olga Maksimova, CAF Russia; Shubha Chacko, Solidarity Foundation; Truc Nguyen, Independent Consultant/LIN Center; and, Urmila Shrestha and Upasana Shrestha, Tewa – Nepal Women’s Fund.

Published by: GFCF and GlobalGiving

Published: November 2020

Download: ‘What does it mean to be community‑led? Community leaders’ perspectives on principles, practices and impacts (Part 1)‘ or check out the Community-Led Self-Assessment Tool

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Tenywa David

Very good and the ideology so applicable

Firminus Mugumya

I am an academic and researcher in Africa (Uganda) currently implementing a small study on university-community engagement for total school enrollment and retention, and I find your subject “what dose it mean to be community-led” a very relevant and topical one. I think that the future searches for what will work better to stimulate sustainable development and change in nearly all development spheres should start with re-examining how best to initiate and promote real community-led development. From my perspective as an academic and researcher in Africa, I have been exploring how our universities could do much better if they become… Read more »

Mike Tyler

CLD needs proven models for replication
The digital global Community Development network which has 1600 member organizations in 43 countries is planning trial of a community led transformation project in Malawi as a pilot for mutliple replication.
If you would like to partner with us please contact me

Arthur Namu

I found the Community led Self assessment tool very interesting in evaluating institutions that claim to be community driven and focussed.