Learning about change

in Christian organisations

Can you help me? I am doing a piece of work with a large Christian NGO working in partnership with local churches. They are grappling with what "ownership" really means.

  • How would you define ownership?
  • How would you know if it was there?
  • Is there such a thing as "co-ownership"?
  • Who needs to own what in a development project?

I would really appreciate any of you jotting down the first things that come to your mind in response to these questions. Your gut opinions rather than a comprehensive response would be great.

Many thanks,


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Ownership is when you count the cost and take full responsibility to meet it. You may bring in friends but the responsibility to meet the cost remains with you; it is when you consider the risks and embrace them. You may delegate responsibility to mitigate the risks but ultimately, the buck stops with you. It is being on the driver's seat to direct the process of change to realize your own dream and not someone else's. You may invite others to share in the dream and the ride, but you are the leader. Taken in context of the biblical call to stewardship, it is asking God, not what to do with the ten percent, but what to do also with the 90 percent that you 'own'. Because it is never about you... It is always about Him.

Signs of ownership? What is the 'owner' proud of? What is the commitment? What are they are willing to sacrifice (Remember the story of the two mothers who sought King Solomon's wisdom).

Co-ownership? Definitely. Two are better than one; a cord of three is not easily broken. It is possible to share the cost, risk, dream and process with others.

Ownership in the context of a development project? Let each be responsible over what is happening within their realm. There needs to be a point of connection in the dream yet each one must define what becomes their driving force within their own context...

It's very interesting to think about this. It's not easy to answer the questions even though the word ownership has been widely used in the development sector and even in my own work that most of time, it sounds all too common and obvious. I know what it is but it's really difficult to put it in words. 

But I think ownership is a sense that something belongs to a person / organisation because that person / organisation invested in it. And so there is a sense of ownership if an investment (time, money, resources, processes, thoughts, etc.) was made and because of that investment, the person / organisation will take responsibility in taking care of it (decisions, plans, strategies, etc.). I think it’s possible to co own when both parties have equally investment and therefore equally responsible. In a development project, all stakeholders should own what affects them. So if a decision affects them, it means that they should have ownership for it. But ownership will only happen when they were part in making the decision. 

Hope this helps!

Many thanks to both of you for this. I should be able to share the interesting other responses that have come in by email as well as the literature on this fascinating subject. Hopefully early next year.

Wonderful. Looking forward to the literature once it's available. Thanks!

Rick, this is very challenging indeed especially in these kinds of relationships. In my simplest form of defining Ownership, I I would say "to have full control and able to make decisions over the project" With this basic decision, i would then begin to look at what the project is all about, how decisions are made and what kind of decisions. For example, put in simplest form, "How did the projects start" this would probably build on the definition above and follow through it. Its one thing to start a program but who initiated it? Who takes responsibilities for what? As of co-ownership..... mmmmm that is really difficult if it has to exist..... If we take the Clover leaf model, I see more of linkage not co-ownership, in this case, ownership would remain with the internal organization not at linkage level.

These are my thoughts

Hi Rick,

My jottings: I would define ownership as a sense of something belonging in some way to someone. I would know if it was there if that sense existed, mindful that different people will have different senses of the same thing being owned. I think there is certainly such a thing as "co-ownership" and that that is often a positive thing, but that people will often want some clarity around what they should expect of each other. I would say that in a development project, the most important owners are those who will receive the benefits of the project when it is completed.


 Dear all, i've limit in english

How would you define the property?

For me , the property is defined as tangible or intangible property owned by one or more persons with the same rights on the object.

    How do you know if she was there?

We can verify its existence by the documents , physical visits objects or other means of control or verification in accordance with the laws of the country .    

 Is there such a thing as " co- ownership "?

Yes, two or more persons or organizations can put the resources together to have a property and share the enjoyment of rights over     Who needs to have that in a development project ? All those who want to reduce the charges or who may wish for strategic reasons .




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