Community organization

Community organization

Ask a question about 'Community organization'
Start a new discussion about 'Community organization'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Community organizations are civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 that operate within a single local community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

. They are essentially a subset of the wider group of nonprofits. Like other nonprofits they are often run on a voluntary basis and are self funded. Within community organizations there are many variations in terms of size and organizational structure. Some are formally incorporated, with a written constitution and a board of directors (also known as a committee
A committee is a type of small deliberative assembly that is usually intended to remain subordinate to another, larger deliberative assembly—which when organized so that action on committee requires a vote by all its entitled members, is called the "Committee of the Whole"...

), while others are much smaller and are more informal.

The recent evolution of community organizations, especially in developing countries, has strengthened the view that these "bottom-up" organizations are more effective addressing local needs than larger charitable organizations.


Typical community organizations fall into the following categories: community-service and action, health, educational, personal growth and improvement, social welfare and self-help for the disadvantaged.

In Canada and elsewhere, amateur
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....

 sports clubs, school groups, church groups, youth groups and community support groups are all typical examples of community organizations.

In developing countries (like those in Sub-Saharan Africa) community organizations often focus on community strengthening, including HIV/AIDS awareness, human rights (like the Karen Human Rights Group
Karen Human Rights Group
The Karen Human Rights Group is a grassroots Karen-led human rights organization, established in Karen State during 1992 and it is now operating across rural eastern Burma. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the KHRG is recognized internationally as an authority on major issues such as...

), health clinics, orphan children support, water and sanitation provision, and economic issues.


Fundraising for community organizations can be very different from that of charities
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 and larger nonprofits, which benefit from endowments, institutional and government grants, individuals, and other diverse funding sources.

Smaller community organizations typically rely on donations (monetary and in-kind) from local community members and sponsorship from local government and businesses. In Canada, for example, slightly over 40% of the community organizations surveyed had revenue under C$30,000. These organizations tend to be relationship based and people-focused. Across all sizes, Canadian community organizations rely on government funding (49%), earned income (35%), and gifts and donations (13%).

Community fundraiser
A fundraiser is an event or campaign whose primary purpose is to raise money for a cause. See also: fundraising. A fundraiser can also be an individual or company whose primary job is to raise money for a specific charity or non-profit organization...

s can take a people-focused approach to fundraising
Fundraising or fund raising is the process of soliciting and gathering voluntary contributions as money or other resources, by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies...

. Relationship building is a key part of the people-focused approach. Relationship-building communicates the benefits that the organization offers to the local community. Open days and other such events are very valuable relationship-building events.

Further reading

  • J. Phillip Thompson (2005). Seeking Effective Power: Why Mayors Need Community Organizations. Perspectives on Politics, 3 , pp 301–308.