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(Click on "start prezi" and then select "auto play" in the bottom right hand corner.) Interactive poster designed for our 60th anniversary.

In 2018, IACD will be celebrating its 65th birthday. We shall be celebrating 65 years of community development practice and scholarship from across the world, culminating in our 2018 international conference (date and venue to be confirmed). Come and share this important milestone with us.

The International Association for Community Development was established in 1953 in the USA and in the early days worked closely with the United Nations on developing its policies and programmes. IACD became a UN accredited INGO.

The United Nations defined community development, in the post war period, as 'a process designed to create conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with its active participation', In the first instance, the aim was to promote integrated development and self-reliance, especially focusing upon rural communities, with the subsequent addition of programmes geared towards urban communities. 

In the 1950s much of IACD's membership and focus was upon policy and practice in post colonial countries, but from the mid 1960s its membership increasingly attracted community developers working within developed countries, espcially around anti poverty programmes such as the War on Poverty in the USA and the Urban Programme in the UK. Members of the association were also involved with the setting up of the international Community Development Journal in 1967.

Marj Mayo,former  IACD and CDJ Board member reflects upon these early years in this film

The Association moved its headquarters to Belgium in 1977, and began to expand its membership in francophone countries and started publishing its own Journal called Comm. It also managed the European Community Work Training Clearing House in the 1970s and 80s and provided small grants to local community development on behalf of the Belgian Overseas Development Ministry. Prof Rudolph Rezohazy, from Hungary served as President of IACD for over much of this period, with Pierre Rozen its Secretary General.

 IACD promoted networking and information sharing through its Journal, Comm, and through regular international conferences, including this one held in Taipei, Taiwan in 1987.

From the early 1990s there was a growing concern amongst some members, that IACD tended to represent more traditional paradigms of community development work, and had not really embraced the urban community organising and radical community education practitioners (Alinsky, Freire et al). This led to growing calls to open up the Board more to its members and to encouraging community organising and community education practitioners to join. This came to a head at IACD's conference in South Africa in 1997 when new members were elected to the Board and which then decided to move the association from Belgium to Scotland, with a new Secretariat.

Following the South Africa conference  the IACD Board of Directors was restructured and reformed to ensure more democratic control of the organisation by its members through a directly elected Board and its headquarters moved to Scotland. Charlie McConnell, a member of the Board since 1989 and prime mover behind these moves, agreed to house IACD at the Scottish Community Education Council in Edinburgh, Scotland where he was CEO. Charlie took over the role of Secretary General. Gary Craig, past editor of CDJ, who joined the Board at the South Africa conference, was the first President of the relaunched IACD.

The association was relaunched in 1999, at an international conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland and IACD was registered in Scotland as a charity and a company limited by guarantee. With the move and relaunch, there began a recruitment campaign to get new members to join from across the world.

The new IACD has been supported by a number of important partners since 1998. The Scottish Community Education Council gave critical financial support in the early days of IACD's move to Scotland, and it was at this time that IACD built a closer partnership again with Community Development Journal (CDJ) and the two organisations have continued to collaborate closely. From 2004-12 financial support from the Scottish-based Carnegie UK Trust enabled IACD to employ development and administrative staff. Since 2012, IACD has received core support from the Scottish government which goes part of the way towards sustaining the organisation's activities, which is also funded by way of membership fees and income from its conferences, Practice Exchange programme and publications.

From its 'rebirth' in Scotland, the association has been focused on promoting, advocating for and facilitating learning and exchange about community development practice in both developed and developing countries. As the only global network for community development, IACD provides a voice for community development practitioners and agency managers, CD trainers, students and activists; and unique opportunities for people to connect, share and learn from each other about community-led development.

Most years, IACD organises  international conferences for members in collaboration with national community development network host partners, including events in Thailand, South Africa, the Middle East, New Zealand, India, Hungary, Cameroon, Hong Kong China, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, the USA, UK and Portugal. In 2016 IACD held a roadshow of conferences and roundtable events on the contribution that community development can make towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda.


Since 2011 IACD expanded its continuing professional development support Community Leadership Programme  and Practice Exchanges, the most recent of which taking place in 2016 in India and Nepal. These are opportunities for c20 community developers from around the world to visit field projects and meet with local community developers and activitsts in situ over several days.

As well as providing space for sharing practice and learning, IACD events have enabled community development practitioners, activists, researchers and decision makers to come together to articulate a common vision, an example being that of supporting an international community of practice of rural community developers and of practitioners engaged in Assett based community development.

IACD also engages in policy advicacy.
Delegates at the 2004 conference, 'Building Civil Society', collaborated to produce the Budapest Declaration, a common statement on community development in Europe, directed to the EU, national governments and other key stakeholders in Europe. A similar Declaration was issued for Africa in 2006 as part of our Cameroons conference. The 2009 Brisbane conference produced a shared statement of intent to rethink current systems and work towards building community centred economies, "not as 'alternative' economies, but as the essential building blocks of national and global economies..." to provide genuine wealth and livelihood for all. 

In 2016 published a new Global Definition for community development following consultation with members.

Community development is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality, and social justice, through the organisation, education, and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity, or interest, in urban and rural settings.

IACD's consultative status with the United Nations and its agencies has enables its members to advocate for community development principles and practices in forums such as the UN's 2009 conference on Promotion of South-South Cooperation for Development, in Nairobi, Kenya, the 2010 High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development in New York and the 2016 High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals.


IACD was a participant NGO in the 2009 Moshi Dialogue on north-south collaboration in Tanzania and co-organised a follow-up workshop, focusing on southern perspectives.


IACD was a strong supporter of the Millenium Development Goals and most recently played an active part in the INGO consultations around the Sustainable Development Goals.

IACD's activities been founded on a commitment to genuine learning and practice exchange across contexts and cultures, and a belief that community development is at its heart asset-based. 

We have a track record in research and publications. 'What in the world...?', published in 2007, explored international approaches to issues such as gender, sustainability and governance. 




Our collaboration over several years with the Carnegie UK Trust and the FierySpirits Community of Practice enabled us to gather and share learning around asset based approaches to community development. 'Appreciating Assets', that highlights the global roots of assets approaches and some of the work being done to harness and build on various forms of community 'capital'.


Complementing this was our work with the Indigo network, from 2010-2012, which aimed to support people out of poverty in Europe by encouraging individuals and communities to build their financial assets. IACD is a member of the European Financial Inclusion Network and sits on its savings working group.

Over the years we have expanded our capacity for facilitating learning and practice exchange in ways which complement face-to-face meetings and traditional research projects.

A new, enhanced website was launched in 2010 and continues to be developed, with opportunities for members to share and interact online. Monthly ebulletins keep around 6,000 members and subscribers in touch and our facebook presence (3,700) is growing since we have begun to use the IACD Facebook site to post daily news about community development from around the world

In 2012, we replaced our traditional newsletters with the launch of the first in a series of 'Practice Insights' publications.

These aim to highlight and explore community development approaches to challenges or issues identified by our members as being particularly important, such as poverty, empowerment and most recently the contribution of community development in addressing the SDGs..

Most importantly, IACD is a member-led organisation. Annual General Meetings (like this one in Pune, India in August 2012) are one of the many opportunities for members to have their say. Read more here.


Members may also apply to serve on IACD's voluntary Board of Directors. To learn more about our current staff and Board members, go to About.

The International Association for Community Development (IACD) is the only global network for professional community development practitioners. We are accredited with the UN. We have members across the world. If you are a development agency manager, funder, fieldwork practitioner, academic, student, or volunteer community activist IACD can help you through our international practice exchanges, events and publications. Join today and become a part of this dynamic global network!!