Stages of development

Community groups go through stages of development. Many remain operating as small, volunteer-based groups while others develop very quickly into large and organisationally sophisticated groups.


Typical characteristics

Matters to consider

Starting out

One person or a small group, passionate about a particular issue and wanting to do something


  • often led by a visionary and/or strong, entrepreneurial person
  • high ideals often not clear
  • where does this fit with other things that are going on in the community?
  • clarification of/agreeing on purpose of the group

Becoming structured

Small group committed to making something happen

  • generally operates as a committee or collective
  • the work of the group is done by the group members (generally voluntarily)
  • minimal financial structures – often group member contributions, perhaps small grant, such as COGS
  • what structure best suits the purpose?
  • getting organised
  • assigning roles
  • agreeing on what needs to be done (not just the high ideals)
  • establishing systems


An organisation can outgrow its volunteer structure

  • the group inevitably faces challenges
  • some members often do the bulk of the work, leading to resentment and tension
  • the loose, voluntary structure is replaced by a more formal, structured committee or board
  • a co-ordinator, administrator or chief executive may be employed to do the tasks delegated by the committee/board
  • applying for funding to support the organisation's increased operation
  • establishing good organisational processes
  • setting up governance, management and reporting structures
  • increased financial, legal and employment responsibilities
  • maintaining external relationships


Group is functioning well


  • systems and structures are formalised
  • generally a separation of governance and management roles
  • employs staff
  • ongoing evaluation of the group's effectiveness and relevance
  • challenge of keeping relevant (or getting stale)
  • learning/reflective practice
  • avoiding a loss of passion
  • business management responsibilities financial, employment, premises, assets, contract management etc.


Work is done or refocus


  • things change, either externally (in the community) or within the group to indicate that it is time to wind up
  • some groups may reinvent themselves with a different focus rather than winding up
  • others might limp on, resisting dissolution, although they could be increasingly irrelevant to the community
  • evaluation at both group and personal levels
  • dealing with grief some members might not want to finish
  • celebration
  • tidying up and moving on



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Contents of the Community Resource Kit