Time and Investment - To what degree is the organization able to persist in the transformation of an individual, family, or community, even if that transformation requires significant time and resources? Has the organization invested in the necessary technology, structures for data collection, evaluation, and leadership to make intelligent, ongoing decisions? Are local staff provided with adequate training and ongoing mentoring?
The organization is committed to supporting the development, and has adequate resources and time. It has a history of performance that provides confidence in its effectiveness and direction. The organization has also implemented methods to track the progress of development, and uses this information to inform subsequent decisions.
The organization is willing to invest significant time and resources to implement solutions, but may be relatively inexperienced regarding measuring its effectiveness and the efficiency of its model in comparison to other organizations in its field. While the organization has developed a method to track its progress and outcomes, it is inconsistent in using this method and rarely relies on it to evaluate its work.
The organization is unable to work with communities and individuals for more than a few hours/days/weeks. Reasoning for this range from a lack of funding, a limited or ill-equipped staff, or an unclear mission. The organization lacks a system to track progress and does not conduct significant evaluations of its work.
Peer Staff - Social influence plays a significant role in developing an individual's perception of self, including the notion of self-empowerment and the ability to influence one’s course in life. To what extent are those who work directly with the participants similar in language, culture, and heritage?
There are very high levels of similarity between the front-line staff and the individuals with whom these staff are working. Usually, these individuals grew up in similar cultural, linguistic, and economic circumstances. Beneficiaries can easily find commonality and identify with the staff. Where differences do exist, the staff is capable of relating and empathizing with participants.
There are a number of commonalities between the workers and the participants, such as language and culture. However, there is a degree of separation, often exemplified by differing levels of education and prosperity.
There are very few commonalities between the workers and participants. A difference in culture, economic prosperity, language, and heritage naturally create a "we" and "them" mentality in both parties.
Organized to Engage - How intentional is the organization's development model to involve and engage the ultimate beneficiaries? To what degree does the organization formalize and test the development process that brings about permanent transformations?
There is a deliberate process and methodology in place that the organization diligently follows, oriented toward supporting participants as they identify their own problems and execute their own solutions.
There is some engagement with participants to identify problems and potential solutions, but much of the actual work is done by people who are not part of the community.
The development model is primarily about outsiders delivering a good or service to attempt to solve a problem.
Scalability - To illustrate this variable, think about two extremes: At one end, imagine that a charity requires the full-time work of ten fully trained, monitored individuals for every one person's transformation to self-sufficiency. At the other extreme, imagine a charity that achieves ten transformed individuals for every one full-time worker, and further, those who are transformed go on to transform others.
The organization displays a reliable return on investment. Not only do employees work with many beneficiaries, but those beneficiaries are eager to conduct similar work with others, resulting in exponential growth and transformation in other communities.
The organization invests a large amount of time and energy into the target community with moderate returns. While the number of transformed/impacted individuals is clearly growing, this growth is slow and will take many years to reach its full potential.
It takes a substantial amount of the organization's staff, time, and energy to impact the target community. Only a few individuals are impacted, resulting in little progress. Moreover, the individuals impacted by the organization do not pass on their knowledge to others.
Access to Resources - There is an abundance of resources and technology available in the world, but many factors can create obstacles for consistent access to those resources among various populations.
The community is located in close proximity to, or has a reasonable way to both secure and sell resources. Often, community members will own a variety of assets, such as land and equipment. The community also has reasonable access to technology and infrastructure.
The community has some access to needed resources and supplies, though a number of items are difficult to secure due to distance, price, or logistical issues related to local infrastructure, technology, or transportation. Selling goods and services outside the community is also moderately difficult.
Accessing necessary resources and items is nearly impossible for community members. Natural resources may be in short supply, goods may be too costly or far away to purchase, or otherwise prevented from being safely brought back to the community by a variety of barriers. Selling goods and services outside the community is nonexistent.
Group Culture - Groups, like individuals, are influenced by their culture and history. The degree to which there is a distrust of outsiders and a mentality of entitlement will influence the success and time it takes for an organization to create sustainable development.
Individuals are self-driven and actively involved in communal relationships, political decision-making, and local affairs. There is a relatively strong belief that individuals can exert control over their respective circumstances and readily learn from their mistakes. Individuals are largely open to visitors and express hospitality.
The community has struggled to overcome barriers successfully in the past, but remains determined. It is inexperienced in developing its own solutions to problems; instead it relies on others for assistance and/or guidance. Trust in outsiders is highly tenuous and there may be some internal strife.
The community must rely on others to provide for their needs and solve their problems. There is a shared belief that prosperity is being controlled by external factors, and there may be a belief that people living in poverty deserve that fate. For this reason, there is a lack of trust in outsiders.
Continuity - A high turnover in the population or significant chaos in the local area creates challenges to an organization attempting to do long-term, sustainable work. Recurring natural disasters, civil strife, and fractured communities can create difficult circumstances for group and individual transformations.
There are few disruptions existing in the community, such as conflict and natural disasters. The political and economic climate of the country is one characterized by general political freedom, growth, security, and rule of law.
The community faces a number of challenges, perhaps exacerbated by natural disasters. At times, it has struggled to be resilient. The group's population is relatively persistent, with only moderate turnover among a small percentage of the group.
The community has consistently struggled to overcome significant barriers. Jobs are limited, forcing individuals to travel long distances in search of work. The community faces uncontrollable difficulties, often in the form of natural disasters, violence, and political corruption, making the area unpredictable and unsafe. There is high turnover among most of the membership in the group.
Scores this high are rare. In these circumstances, the organization is likely exceeding its objectives and is finding itself no longer needed by the people with whom it works, allowing it to move on to new groups on a regular basis. Further, it is finding that those beneficiaries are, in turn, passing on their knowledge and experiences to others.
The organization is probably achieving some successes, especially if it is only tracking the completion of projects. It may not be tracking long-term sustainability, however, or it is only somewhat likely to create exponential growth and permanent change. Additionally, the outcomes for participants are tenuous, especially when faced with unforeseen problems or changes.
The organization faces significant challenges in trying to create sustainable community development. One or more factors will severely diminish, or are likely to undermine, the sustainability or success of the organization’s efforts. These issues should be identified and addressed before moving forward, perhaps requiring that the organization re-evaluate its core methods and processes.