Community Auditing

February 25, 2021 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
April 30, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 25, 2018 Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team
February 8, 2018 Carolina
January 17, 2010 Carolina

Community auditing is a participatory research method used by a community for it to evaluate its own priorities and resources, thereby identifying their needs and raising the community's awareness of their own skills and relevant issues facing them.

Problems and Purpose

Community auditing is a method for evaluating, or identifying, what is useful for a community, and is carried out by the community in question. It is described as an "empowering process [which] can achieve desirable quantitative and qualitative [community development] outcomes". [1]

Community audits can be performed on various levels — from organization to neighbourhood to city. What is important is that the audit is inclusive of those in need of provisions. 

Community auditing developed as a participatory research method. The need came from the fact that increasingly, research is required into the needs of various communities in order to secure effective services. However, traditional research methods are not always appropriate or helpful, such as for young people and vulnerable or isolated communities. Community auditing was developed at Manchester Metropolitan University to address this need.

Community auditing supports and trains members of the community, such as youth workers, to conduct participatory audits. The process not only identifies the needs of the community but raises community awareness of resources, and develops participants skills and knowledge of the relevant issues affecting them. [2]

Origins and Development

Auditing is traditionally a method of evaluating most commonly associated with accounting; it is used to make an official record or account for a set of resources or assets. Community auditing departs from this account in that it aims to place the community's voices at the heart of the auditing process. It was developed as a method for youth and community workers to use and its principles are in congruence with principles and aims of community and youth work such as fostering conversation, informal education, and challenging oppression. [2]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Participant constituencies will vary according to need. The most important point is that the audit is carried out by, and for, those affected. The 'community' is self-identified. [2]

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

The audit is typically led by a trusted member of the community who is specially trained to facilitate the process. However, the aim of this person is supportive rather than directive, and the audit should develop a sense of ownership by the community. A range of research methods may be used but are chosen by the community, as is the agenda.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Know what outcomes and effects this method typically has? Help us complete this section! 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Some of the challenges arising from using this approach include the time and effort required, as it is typically a slow process that demands patience and resources. It may also be a challenge for the worker leading the audit, given that they must not take over or manage the process, which can lead to frustration. Community members may have had negative experiences with researchers in the past and be reluctant to participate. Some communities or community members may also struggle to keep up participation throughout the process; Packham cites drug users as a group with erratic lifestyles as an example of this. [2] Overcoming these challenges involves effective training and support for workers or agencies conducting community audits, as well as anticipation and planning for possible obstacles.

See Also

Community Audit & Evaluation Centre 


[1] Packham, C. (1998) Community Auditing as Community Development, Community Development Journal, 33(3), pp 249–259, available at:

[2] Packham, C. (2000) Community Auditing: appropriate research methods for effective youth and community intervention, in Humphries, B. Ed. (2000) Research in Social Care and Social Welfare, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

External Links

Community Auditing as community development

Community-Based Auditing: A Post-Normal Science Methodology

How Reliably Do Community Members Audit the Neighborhood Environment for Its Support of Physical Activity? Implications for Participatory Research

The community counts: a participatory approach to social audits

Sustain - Community Audit

Conducting community audits to evaluate community resources for healthful lifestyle behaviors: an illustration from rural eastern North Carolina