CDF views Community Engagement as a process by which individuals and organizations build ongoing relationships for the purpose of creating collective actions that benefit the community. There are many misconceptions about community engagement and development. Our communities face great challenges, and it is often tempting to look for a quick fix solution. Community development takes time. CDF Board Member and Author, Doris Littrell has written about what Community Development is not:
Community development is not teaching people to develop proposals or a list of grievances to be righted. It is not telling people what they need to make their lives better, nor giving them answers to their issues. It is not primarily about taking power away from an established order, though that sometimes happens. Community development is not passive. It is not about preparing a list of needs, petitioning government and waiting for a response. Community development is not developing dependency. We all want independence. We want to stand on our own. We work in community development so that the people we work with can become more independent; we don’t want them to be dependent on us.