Characteristics of Successful Economic Development Interventions:


  • Use development rather than relief, because the vast majority of people in North America are capable of participating in the improvement of their lives;
  • Improve some aspect of the economic system or enable people to use the existing system more effectively;
  • Use an asset-based approach that builds upon the skills, intelligence, labor, discipline, savings, creativity, and courage of people;
  • Have the potential to be designed, implemented, and evaluated in a participatory manner;
  • Provide an opportunity to use biblically based curricula, allowing for a clear presentation of the gospel and the addressing of worldview issues;
  • Use church-based mentoring teams that can offer love, support, and encouragement, thereby providing a relational approach that seeks to restore people’s dignity (relationship to self), community (relationship to others), stewardship (relationship to rest of creation), and spiritual intimacy (relationship to God);
  • Are implemented over fairly long periods of time, thereby creating space for “development,” the process of ongoing change and reconciliation, for both the “helpers” and the “helped.”

Used by permission, adapted from Corbett, S., & Fikkert, B. (2012). When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself.  Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, pages 175-176.