Over the past months, we have been working to develop the ‘community connector ‘ – a public, searchable database and directory of online groups and communities in the development and humanitarian sector working towards shared sustainable development goals.

Version 1.0 of the connector is now live and you can browse and search the initial set of online groups and communities that it includes.

Screenshot of the community connector
Screenshot of the community connector – click image to view live version.

Why a community connector?

People working in development and humanitarian organizations need to work togetherlearn lessons and align their efforts around shared goals. One of the best sources of inspiration, ideas and resources is other people working on similar problems, often in other organizations or sectors. Making these connections is often held back by organizational, disciplinary and professional silo’s that keep us apart.

Joining formal or informal groups, networks and communities is one of the best ways to overcome such challenges and many thousands of people are part of such online peer to peer learning and exchange communities.

However, these groups and communities meet all over the Internet on different platforms. They may be open or closed, they may be super relevant or just marginal. It is almost impossible to find them, except through luck, serendipity or word of mouth. It’s also very difficult to get a picture of where an issue is being discussed, and who by, as a way to more smartly locate valuable knowledge that can be adapted and applied elsewhere.

We want to make it much easier for people to find, join and benefit from online communities and conversations!

And we believe that the connector will help in creating synergies between different groups and actors, avoid duplication of efforts, and make development work more effective and efficient.

Key features and functionality

The connector currently has a ‘low tech’ approach – the database of groups and communities is hosted on AirTable and we are using AirTable Gallery view to publish and embed the connector.

As a user, you can view the list of communities sorting the alphabetical order. Or you can use the text search option. Or you can create and apply different filter rules to narrow down your search.

Each record – expandable with a click – presents a short description of the community, as well as information on the convener of the community, its geographic focus, themes, and languages. And a link back to visit the community homepage.

Next steps

We would like to keep improving and expanding the connector, and see how we can further develop it so that it’s more than a directory.

Ideally, the connector should also allow people in our sector to get better insights into ongoing community narratives and conversation topics – as a path to be part of them and to make knowledge actionable.

Ultimately, we would like the connector to help us to more smartly locate valuable knowledge that can be adapted and applied elsewhere.

Are you interested in working together to continue develop the community connector? Use this form if you know of other communities that we should add. Or reach out to us to discuss how we could improve and expand on the existing functionality.