What is asset mapping?

What is asset mapping?

“Asset mapping” is the current buzzterm in economic and community development. Everywhere I turn it seems that I find that organizations and communities are doing asset mapping. So, exactly what is asset mapping? There are no shortage of definitions. Consider:

A disciplined, structured process of listing key community features in spreadsheet format designed to discover unique and unknown assets. Mapping should always be contained within a defined geographic boundary – ConnectSI (Southern Illinois – 20 county collaborative)

An asset map is an inventory of the strengths and gifts of the people who make up a community. Asset mapping reveals the assets of the entire community and highlights the interconnections among them, which in turn reveals how to access those assets.Northwest Regional Education Laboratory

At its most basic level, the asset mapping process will provide leaders with an inventory of key resources that can be utilized in a development effort.  A more comprehensive asset mapping initiative will provide a deep understanding of the key networks and cultural attitudes that shape the regional economy, indicate “gap” areas that require further investment, and provide a baseline by which to judge future progress toward regional prosperity.U.S. Dept. of Labor and Training Administration


Community Asset Mapping is a capacity-focused way of strengthening communities. This positive approach can be used instead of the typical focus on a community’s needs and problems to start community development work. The community assets mapping approach:• starts with what is present in a community
• concentrates on the agenda-building and problem-solving capacity of the residents
• stresses local determination, investment, creativity, and control. – Mapping Assets for Biloxi’s Youth

Asset mapping identifies resources or assets in the community. It is essential in identifying local organizations and businesses that have resources that can meet residents’ needs. Asset mapping is an inventory of the businesses, organizations, and institutions that help create a community. The asset mapping process identifies local resources, such as: organizations; businesses; and schools that have the potential to provide programs, services, funds, or in-kind gifts to a center. U.S. Dept. of HUD, Connecting to Success – Neighborhood Networks Asset Mapping Guide

In short, asset mapping is simply identifying things of value (assets) in a community.  Once that is done, it’s time to figure out ways to capitalize on those assets.

One response to “What is asset mapping?

  1. Some of these definitions are so lengthy that they lose focus. The important thing about asset mapping is simply the process of brainstorming how liabilities can be seen as assets. When we turn problem-solving upside down to look at what is available in abundance in a community, then we may have a new appreciation of possibilities and plenty. It beats bemoaning our liabilities.

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