As the movement unfolds, it will be important to evaluate what is happening in the community as a result and to plan for adjustments. It is also critical to plan for sustainability—a compassionate community is not built in a day.
Step 12: Monitor and measure your progress, and continue planning. Celebrate successes; learn from unsuccessful efforts and adjust subsequent actions accordingly. Then share your experiences and your stories with the Charter community –for example, by posting on the Charter’s website.
Remember that the Charter website (link) includes many valuable resources to assist you—stories of other communities efforts and successes, toolkits to suggest resolutions to obstacles, readings about compassionate action that can inspire and motivate, and connections to other communities and agencies that will lend support to your efforts. It also provides tools to help you measure and evaluate your progress—an essential and ongoing aspect of your work.
In addition, in the Resources section below, you will find several ideas for developing an evaluation tool and for evaluating your initiative, which can be found in the Community Tool Box.
Step 13: Communicate within the community on a regular basis—meetings, emails, articles, social media, and whatever other means—to keep people informed and energized.
Maintaining enthusiasm and energy is also important to the success and sustainability of your project. Regular meetings, emails, articles in local media, postings on social media, and whatever other means you have to communicate your actions to the community will help you sustain the work and also bring further support to your compassionate actions. Be sure to report your activities to the Charter so that other communities can learn from what you have accomplished.
Step 14: Reach out to share globally—for example, by partnering with a community in another country.
Karen Armstrong—who is the founder of the Charter for Compassion and a world-renowned author—has spoken of her vision for the next steps toward a truly compassionate world.
I think the [Compassionate Cities and Communities] program could help us to break down the divisions in our polarized world. I hope that we can "twin" the Compassionate Cities, so that a city in the Middle East could link up with a city in the USA, so that people can form electronic friendships, universities and colleges link up together across the divide, and the twinned cities share news and problems.
At some point, your community will be ready to reach out your hands with compassion to another community—perhaps a city or town or neighborhood that is not far from you that has similar challenges and could benefit from a partnership with you. Or you may be inspired to reach across the planet to the people living in a city or town or neighborhood in another country on a distant continent to find a mutually beneficial partnership founded on the concept of compassion for everyone, everywhere in the world. For example, Compassionate St. Augustine (in Florida, USA) has reached out to the city government of Cartagena, Colombia, requesting that they work simultaneously to be compassionate sister cities along with Aviles, Spain. These three geographically distant communities will work together to confront difficult issues, and share partner resources that will eventually result in good works, problem solving and a deeper, more meaningful exchange of resources and cooperation.
Step 15: Sustain efforts to build a Compassionate Community.
You and those who have collaborated with you have made a positive difference in your community. You have worked hard to develop a spirit of compassion within the community, and you have established processes or programs to relieve the suffering of some group or groups within your population. You have done an evaluation to learn how effective your work has been, and you have adjusted and expanded your plans to keep working toward your vision of a Compassionate Community. Perhaps you have even reached out to share your experiences with other communities who want to become Compassionate Communities. Congratulations!
Now you will need to take some time to think about how to sustain the spirit of compassion that has stirred your community to take action, and how to ensure that your work will continue to be helpful to other individuals and groups. You may decide that a pilot program that was so successful should be expanded and carried forward. For example, you may have established a program to provide quality, affordable childcare for families who would not otherwise have access to such care. Your evaluation and analysis have shown that both children and their families have benefited. You develop a plan to expand the program. That may mean that you have to seek greater funding—from individuals, government, foundations, or other organizations. It may happen that your childcare program becomes a program of an existing funding source—such as the educational system.
In addition to financial stability, you may also want to consider how to best communicate the outcomes of your work—providing data and statistics but also giving voice to gratitude and the sense of “elevation” that is felt by both those who are the recipients of compassionate action and those who have been moved to perform compassionate acts. And finally, you will know that the work you have done and that you continue to do is not an isolated act but rather a flowing stream which flows into the ever increasing rivers of compassion, which in turn become a sea of compassion—for all living things and for our planet.
Berger, Rony. Building a Resilient and Compassionate City
Doty, James R. Science and Compassion
Keltner, Dacher and Jason Marsh and Jeremy Adam Smith. The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness, (W.W. Norton and Company 2010).