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The Difference Between Community Work and Community Development

Community development is about more than just the work – it’s about bringing people together. Community work focuses on the actual work, rather than the people. The two terms are often used interchangeably. This article aims to demystify these terms, including the differences between them, so that you will never again wonder what the difference is between community work and community development.

The Differences Between Community Work and Community Development Work

There are several differences between community work and community development work.

  • Community work aims to bring about social change through collective action. This type of work is based on formal agreements, usually with a community organization.
  • Community development takes more sustainable approaches when it comes to implementing various activities in the community.

In short, community work is the work you do with and for the members of your community, and community development refers to the development projects or efforts that help a community improve its overall quality of life.

Community work involves tasks that benefit the community as a whole. It also ensures that citizens better understand their roles and responsibilities.

They range from unpaid activities, such as volunteer work programs like picking up trash on public roadsides or volunteering at an animal shelter, to paid work at community service agencies like daycare centers or homeless shelters.

There are many different types of community work that can be used for reformation and rehabilitation.

Community Development

Community development is a concept that brings together the social services and efforts of an area or organization.

For example, a community development project may be large-scale and require the support of multiple stakeholders to address crises or develop strategies to improve the local economy or other economic opportunities.

The Positive Impact of Community Development

The positive social impacts of community development can vary depending on the activity.

Related: Why Is Social Impact Important

10 Examples of Positive Impact

1. Improvement of The Quality of Life of Citizens

This means that the quality of life of citizens in developing and developed countries improve in the areas of health, education, safety, and general well-being.

Many community development organizations are working to improve the quality of life of citizens in different geographic regions to motivate people to live their best lives.

The positive impact of a community development organization is that people in developed and developing countries have access to better health care, nutrition, education, and safety.

These are all important aspects of community practice that affect the quality of life of citizens.

This is necessary for the sustainable development of any nation.

2. Building Social Infrastructure and Capacity

They help people develop a sense of belonging by ensuring that they’re empowered to participate in the community development process.

Community development organizations that focus on building social infrastructure and community capacity have a positive impact on the community-building process by ensuring that their development efforts are fully aligned with people’s needs, aspirations, and goals.

Community development organizations also ensure that resources available at the community level are used effectively for the benefit of all members of the community, regardless of caste, creed, color, or religion.

They also ensure that community members aren’t disadvantaged by gender, age, or disability.

3. Investing in Local Communities

Investing in local communities is not just about putting up a new building, but working toward social change in the communities where they live and work.

When we invest money in local community groups, we also build confidence in the marketplace. We also promote economic development, which strengthens the economic power of local communities. The future of our next generation depends on it.

There’s a growing movement of people who recognize the value of community organizing.

4. Creating Jobs

Community development creates jobs. It builds infrastructure, reduces blight, and puts people to work.

By creating jobs, we reduce poverty and promote growth in our community. It acts as a catalyst for stability and change.

A community development worker also benefits from his/her work experience in community development for his/her future career aspirations.

Community development includes various activities that benefit both people and community groups.

These include improving access to capital, strengthening small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship, developing human capital, and providing basic services such as utilities, transportation, and housing, which creates more jobs.

5. Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Businesses

Community development is one of the most important factors in helping a business grow.

Community development organizations aren’t just about money and grants. They’re also about training and support. When a business or entrepreneur receives help from community development, it can truly grow.

6. Strengthening Civil Society and Democratic Governance

Community development organizations are often an important part of civil society because they play an important role in providing services to the poor while educating them about their rights as citizens.

This is especially true of organizations that operate at the local level – such as village savings and loan associations, farmers’ cooperatives, women’s self-help groups, parent-teacher associations, housing committees.

They also give local citizens the opportunity to speak out on community issues so that everyone has a voice.

7. Transforming Neighborhoods

Everyone wants to live in a community that’s stable, good for kids, and safe.

The way this is achieved can be different for each community development organization.

Some focus on renovating the homes in their neighborhoods, while others focus on boosting the community’s economic development.

Either way, any positive social change has a positive impact on the local community and beyond.

8. Offer Education

Community development’s impact on education is positive, especially in rural areas. It’s the most important pillar for socio-economic development in the country.

Without community development, no progress can be made because it opens the door to education, which is needed for other economic sectors and the development of the country.

9. Creating Solidarity in Your Community

Community development is about coming together to achieve a common goal.

Communities that participate in this development process can create solidarity among their members and among like-minded communities from around the world.

This solidarity helps find efficient, effective, and lasting solutions to various problems that may be hindering the community development process.

10. Raising Awareness of Local Community Problems

Community needs are met by public services, non-profit organizations, religious organizations, and private groups.

Community development initiatives occur in both urban and rural areas.

Community development is often carried out by professionals and volunteers. They raise awareness of local problems and decide how to solve them using a variety of methods.

Advantages of Community Work

Personal Satisfaction

You gain when you help others.

When you help others, you feel good about yourself and that can help you have a more positive attitude about life.

When you do good to others, you’re kinder to yourself and that can lead to more positive self-talk.


As a volunteer, you’ll get the opportunity to interact with different people from different walks of life.

This experience can help you improve your life and broaden your horizons.

Working with other community members not only gives you the opportunity to communicate with people from other countries but also to participate in different sustainable development projects that are very helpful for your personal and professional development!

Gain Education

Many people don’t think of volunteering as an educational opportunity, but it can be a great way to learn about the world around you. Especially when it comes to a social issue, you can learn a lot from the community members who’re directly involved and their real-world experiences. For example, depending on the nonprofit you’re involved with and your interests, you can learn about many different and unrelated topics, such as social capital, social justice, urban development, sustainable development, local government, community development processes, community issues, civil society, social action forms, economic opportunity, localism, etc.

Learn New Skills

A community worker may have more than one opportunity to learn new skills.

You can choose from many volunteer opportunities, such as community organizing, marketing work, participating in fundraising campaigns, planning events, and organizing workshops for the community.

Build Your Personal Brand

Volunteering as a means to build your personal brand is by no means a new concept.

On the contrary, volunteering is a proven way to develop yourself as a person.

Whether you’re a designer looking to gain hands-on experience or a manager looking to acquire new skills, volunteering can help you build your brand.

A Sense of Belonging

Community workers are important to community groups because they give people the opportunity to improve their lives.

They also help them overcome problems in their lives such as poverty, social justice, loneliness, health problems, unemployment or other social problem situations.

Working as a community worker can also be very rewarding because you’re helping people who really need it and changing their lives, which makes you a part of their community.

Learn More About Yourself

Community work is often about making the most positive social action possible with minimal resources.

Very often you’ll need to use your critical thinking skills to help the collective action succeed.

Volunteering helps you learn more about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. It can also help you discover talents and interests that can be useful in your future career choices.

Gain Self-Confidence

Volunteering can boost your self-esteem, help you expand your circle of friends, or give you the opportunity to learn new things. All of these personal benefits can also lead to more confidence in your professional life.

Gain Resilience

Resilience is the ability to cope with difficult circumstances, trauma, or suffering. The ability to bounce back after failure.

There are many opportunities in community work that can help us become more resilient and make the most of life’s challenges.

The Feeling of Having Achieved Something

If you feel stuck and could use a change, this may be the perfect opportunity for you.

Getting involved in a community organization won’t only give you something to work on, but you’ll also feel like you’ve accomplished something.

Community work also gives you the opportunity to try something completely different from what you normally do at work or at home.

This can open your eyes to other possibilities that you’d never experience otherwise.

5 Examples of Community Work

There are many different ways to do something for your community.

Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate money to a local charity, the important thing is that you’re making a difference in people’s lives.

Below you’ll find a list of examples of community service and how it can impact the community in your locality.

1. Volunteer at A Local Nonprofit Organization

Volunteering at a nonprofit organization is a great way to help those in need. You feel good about helping someone who needs the help. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make friends.

To get started volunteering, you can simply call the organization you want to help and ask what’s needed. Usually, the nonprofit organization will give you a time and place where you can show up.

There you can ask about other tasks that may be needed.

Volunteers are often given a small allowance for gas or if they’re out all day.

Some organizations also provide meals, others don’t reimburse volunteers for their time but offer volunteer certificates for their community engagement.

Volunteer tasks range from sorting food to filling bags to serving meals to those in need. Many volunteers enjoy helping with the children’s programs.

2. Raising Money for Cancer Research

Usually, the purpose is to raise money to help researchers make new advances in the field of cancer treatment and ultimately cure this deadly disease.

Fundraising for cancer research is a noble cause that doesn’t have to be based solely on charity. There are companies that hire fundraisers (telemarketing or street fundraising) and provide training.

This is a great way to raise money and learn how to reach potential customers if you want to work in sales.

You can also organize your own fundraiser or have an event where you ask local businesses if they’d like to sponsor you.

3. Organize a Party for Disadvantaged Children

Organizing a party for disadvantaged children involves many tasks.

Depending on local laws, I recommend you check if you need to register with your municipality and get the necessary papers and insurance before making a final decision.

Then, you’ve to plan the event, invite locals to the party, raise money, book the venue, and if it’s a big party, you will need to hire community workers.

4. Be a Foster Parent

Being a foster parent can be a rewarding experience because you’re providing protection and care to an orphaned child and giving them the love and support they need to grow up, but it’s also a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You’ll have to work with social workers, and it’s not a responsibility you should take lightly.

They’re there to help you, but they can also be very strict, so you should take the time to get to know them and make sure you work well together.

Most states require training for foster parents.

Depending on your state’s policies, you may even have to take a class every year or two.

If you really want to become a foster parent, you should be willing to put in the effort required because it can be quite a challenge.

5. Volunteer With Animals

Volunteering with animals can be a beautiful and fulfilling way to help a community.

Working with animals gives you a special sense of satisfaction knowing that you’ve helped to improve the lives of the animals in your care while doing something positive for the community.

Duties range from helping out at shelters or rescues, to walking dogs, to rescuing injured wildlife and caring for them until they’re fit enough to be released back into the wild.

Each organization has its own rules and restrictions, but before you can work with the animals, you usually have to complete a certain amount of training. It depends on what you’ll be doing.

For example, if you’re working with dogs, you may need to learn how to walk different breeds so you can safely train all the dogs at the rescue center.

Community Work vs. Community Social Work Practice

Community workers are sometimes called outreach workers, volunteers, or charity workers.

They don’t provide professional counseling, but try to help solve problems in their community as “goodwill ambassadors.”

Their role may be to visit elderly or lonely people and provide practical assistance, such as collecting clothing donations after a disaster or working with young children.

Social workers, on the other hand, are trained professionals who assist people from a variety of backgrounds.

A community social worker doesn’t deal with practical day-to-day problems like community workers but instead provides longer-term support for problems such as disability, family breakdown, and financial hardship.

A social worker may be employed by private companies or by the local government (eg: social services for disadvantaged communities).

The Best Type of Community Engagement For You

Community engagement is a broad term that includes any volunteer or paid work you do to help your community.

It can include activities such as fundraising, advocating for social causes, technical assistance, and working with disadvantaged communities.

If you’re not qualified as a social worker, there are many other ways to help others.

Volunteering is one of the most traditional ways.

You can help out at a hospital, school, or charity where you could provide technical assistance, or write for the local community development journal, or some other useful skill that could benefit the community organization.

If volunteering isn’t your thing, you can also do fundraising events or donate money to organizations that need it.

Some people think they don’t have enough time to get involved in the community because they have a job and a family, but there are many ways to get involved without wasting too much time.

You can search online for forums where you can share your experiences and knowledge with the community.

You can start a blog and write about issues that affect you and other members of your community. It’s not easy to find time to help others, but if you really want to, you’ll find a way.

What Kind of Organizations Would Be Best for You?

First, you need to decide if you want to help with a local project or a global one.

Maybe your community lacks certain resources or you want to help abroad. Maybe you want to get involved with an animal shelter or soup kitchen.

Trying out a different organization can broaden your horizons and give you new experiences. Just be sure to find an organization that fits your interests and schedule.

Then it’s also good to know what social issue is closest to your heart.

Maybe you want others to appreciate the environment around them, maybe it’s about helping the homeless, or maybe it’s about the elderly.

There are so many causes, so do a little research and find something you like.

Global vs. Local

The first distinction is whether you want to focus on a global goal or a local goal.

Global organizations like the World Wildlife Fund are good for raising awareness and providing financial support for international projects like endangered species conservation.

Often, these larger organizations can also provide resources, such as educational materials and tips on how to enlist others in your efforts.

Local charities are better suited to make direct improvements in your neighborhood. For example, there are many local charities that provide meals, clothing, and other items to people in need in your neighborhood.

If you choose a local charity, you’ll usually meet people from the same neighborhood as you. This way you can also learn more about the cultural background.

In global organizations, you may meet people from different countries, cultures, and even different continents. These differences can make you more tolerant of other political and religious beliefs and cultures in general.

Local organizations tend to be more open-minded than international organizations.

Staff at a local charity know their neighbors better and understand their needs. They’re also more likely to respond quickly when a neighbor asks for help.

Global organizations tend to be more bureaucratic. They often have staff who don’t personally know the disadvantaged communities they serve. It can sometimes take longer to get a response.

It’s also worth noting that some local nonprofits are actually large global organizations. Amnesty International, for example, is global but has local offices and staff in every locality.

My Personal Experience

I’ve been involved in local community outreach, international community development, fundraising, volunteering, government organizations, and even building a global community.

For me, any experience is good: you learn a lot, gain skills and work experience, meet great people, and it’s a great feeling to be useful to others, even if it comes with a lot of challenges.

My advice is to just give it a try. If one type of community development corporation or nonprofit doesn’t appeal to you, you can always try another.

Community outreach positions are much easier to find than high-paying jobs, and there are many community problems to be solved!

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