Purpose of Community Development:
Some Ideas

Last Reviewed: June 14, 2024

The purpose of community development is to improve your geographic community in some manner.

That improvement could come in the form of higher income, better public health, fewer incidences of war or crime, better appearance, more jobs, less addiction, more ways to show respect and help one another, or better transportation, electricity, broadband, housing, or resilience from severe storms or rising sea levels.

Although this list seems daunting for an individual to tackle, small steps toward solutions are magnified when you join with others in your community to make a difference. You may need a coalition of many community organizations to impact large national-scale systems, but together we can lift social, economic, and physical conditions.

park shelter full of people participating in community event

This page originated in direct response to a visitor question. If the first paragraph didn't answer the question, maybe you will want to read about the definition of community development, or even check our sitemap to understand the breadth of subject matter that might shape the purpose of community development in any particular instance.

In an international context, community development may be intertwined with national development, meeting basic human needs such as clean water, and provision of infrastructure such as roads, power, and electronic communications capability. But even when some systems basic to the modern global world are lacking, much can be done to improve both the social organization, physical and mental health, education,  and appearance and functioning of a village.

Maybe the question really was a philosophical question, more along the lines of "Why should I care about my community?" If so, that is something for you and your conscience to decide.

How the Purpose of Community Development Relates to Your Purpose on Earth

But our argument would be that you are not here on this earth by yourself, you need others so you can survive and thrive, and so far in human history, you are place-based. You cannot be in more than one place at one time.

So ethically, why not contribute to that place? That place provides you the means to gather the food, clothing, shelter, mental and physical health, love, culture, and human kindness that you need for a meaningful life. If any of those necessities are in short supply for others, you can contribute to your geographic community and its betterment, and furthermore, you should.

Humans need work to learn new skills, stimulate the brain toward further development, reap the psychic rewards of seeing something they try become real, and to produce satisfaction. But we do not have to ask very many people why they work, or why they find work rewarding, before the word "purpose" is heard. Many of you will find stimulation and pleasure in doing community "work," even though for most people, this is unpaid work.

Most community work is relatively easy, except for the always-challenging task of getting along with other humans and puzzling about how humans work together or frustrate one another in groups. That is difficult. But when the community projects are relatively successful, individuals participating in them experience mastery of a task in a very satisfying way.

The nature of community development projects varies hugely from situation to situation around the globe, but I hope you'll consider giving your community some of your time and energy. Humans need to experience the value of both individual assertion and communal undertakings. Societies that consistently emphasize one at the expense of the other are wasting the potential of the population.

After all, your community supports you, and you should either express your gratitude by supporting it back, or if it doesn't support you well enough, you need to help improve the conditions. If you're reading the internet, you aren't powerless to enhance your community's situation. Research even shows that people who engage in community service are happier than those who don't!

Humans in groups all have problems, regardless of wealth or any other advantage the community may have. So make your place a viable place to live or an exciting destination for others. We think your purpose in life is related to the purpose of community development in your particular location. After a taste of community-oriented projects, you will understand why community development is so important.  To get started on arranging these experiences, visit our ideas page.

If you need further convincing that you should care about your community, check out this excellent piece from the Ikeda Center on why community itself is important.

Read More Pages Related to the Purpose of Community Development 

For those residing in a developing economy country, you should see our answer to a visitor question about the aims and objectives of community development.

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