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This Asset Mapping Tool can be used to identify the resources that will help your coalition organize a dialogue-to-change effort. Bringing together a diverse group of people to identify a wide range of community assets will also help you to begin preparing for the action that will take place after the dialogues. This is an intermediate level exercise that works best with an experienced facilitator.
Asset Mapping Activity
Purpose of activity:
• Bring a diverse group of people together to identify a wide range of community assets
• Identify the resources that will help you organize a dialogue-to-change approach for
community problem solving
• Help organizers begin to prepare for action
Instructions and tips:
Bring together a diverse group of community members for this activity. Make sure that the group
doing the asset mapping is reflective of the different kinds of people you have in your
community. In addition to racial/ethnic diversity, keep in mind people of different ages,
incomes, gender, new/old residents, talents/skills, and political or religious views.
It can be helpful to check demographic maps to make sure you are being inclusive of people of
all racial, ethnic backgrounds (Here are two resources: http://www.census.gov/, or www.city-
If you have more than 15 people, consider breaking up into two groups for Part 1. Come back
together for the remainder of the activity and share your brainstorm ideas with each other before
moving on together to Part 2. Each group might have named some of the same assets. That is
Part 1: Identify your community’s assets in a group brainstorm (15 minutes)
All communities have lots of resources they can tap into to make their work more successful.
These resources are sometimes called assets. Some different types of assets are:
• People of different races/ethnicities, ages, incomes, genders, talents/skills, political, and
• Formal and informal leaders
• Natural features such as water, trails, parks, open spaces
• Infrastructure such as buildings and transportation hubs
• Formal and informal gathering places
Traditions & Policies:
• Community traditions, cultural values, beliefs, and activities
• Laws, regulations and formal and informal policies
• Intangible assets such as volunteerism, networks, and community connections
• Public systems such as schools, local government, social service agencies and health
• Volunteer or non-profit organizations
• Private organizations and businesses
• Formal and informal community and social groups
This is a brainstorm. Use the ideas for different kinds of assets listed above for each of the four
categories to help people come up with new ideas. Record all ideas on a flipchart, computer or
piece of paper that everyone can see.
During the brainstorm, don’t stop to evaluate whether ideas are good or bad. Record everything
that people share.
Part 2: Ensure that your asset map is inclusive (10 minutes)
People and organizations from different racial, cultural, and language backgrounds should be
reflected in the asset map. Talk about which groups are represented most by the assets and why.
Part 3: Answer the following questions while referring to your asset map (35 minutes)
● Are there some groups in the community who are missing, or that you know little or
nothing about? Who are they? What are their assets? If we don’t know, how might we
● Are there some groups in the community whose assets dominate? Who are they? What
are some implications of this?
● What assets are most important, given the issue we are addressing?
● Will these assets be helpful, once we get to the action phase of our work? If not, are
there additional assets we need to add to our list?
Part 4: Highlight 3-5 assets in each category that will be most helpful (15 minutes)
When identifying helpful assets, keep in mind the issue your community is addressing. Save the
asset map you’ve created and continue to refer to it as you move forward. Different assets may
be useful during different phases of your work.
During the organizing phase, refer to your asset map to:
• Identify people or organizations that might be invited to participate
• Help make sure you have the right people/organizations to achieve diverse participation
• Ensure that the assets you’ve identified match the issue you are working on
During the action phase, refer to your asset map to:
• Identify assets that can give you the credibility, resources, and community support you
need to implement actions.
• Look again at the diversity of people who have been involved. Hopefully, you have
successfully engaged a wide range of people. However, if there are groups who have not
participated, set aside time to talk about how to engage them. Be sure to discuss the
implications of bringing new people in during the action phase of your work.
• Look at the balance between public, non-profit/volunteer, and private organizations. All
three will be important in implementing your action plan.