Need Finding


The Commons Mapping tool is a large wall canvas which openly allows people to log contributions that they are willing to make to the campaign, such as resources (e.g. sensors, meeting space, funds), time, or even specific skills. Facilitators can fill out the fields in the chart according to the specific needs of the campaign. Participants’ contributions can be mapped using sticky notes on the big target where they will also find an instructions sheet and a call for participants to provide their name and contact details. The participants then stick these notes to the chart to describe the type of contribution that they can offer. Crucially, the closer to the centre the citizens place their Post-its, the more time they feel they can dedicate to their contribution. When complete, the Commons Mapping tool provides group awareness of the resources within their community, as well as any gaps that might need to be filled. This tool was initially developed at Knowle West Media Centre as part of The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing.

Format Method, WorkshopTimeframe < 1hGroup Size AllFacilitation Level LowRequired Materials Pen and paper, Post its


  • Define the key types of contributions needed for the project. These can vary from project to project, but ‘Technological’, ‘Workshops’, ‘Development’ and ‘Resources’ are common contribution categories. It is also good to leave a space for ‘Other Ideas’. Write up these category headings around a very large target, leaving equal space between each.
  • Have participants write their suggested contribution on a Post-it, including their name and contact details, and place it onto the target. Contributions might range from simple attendance, to expertise, or offers of venues and contacts.
  • The closer the Post-it is to the centre, the more time or resource the participant is willing to dedicate to the project.
  • Participants can make multiple contributions if they so choose. The important thing here is to be able to visualise the areas with ample support and resources versus those which do not.


Community projects never start from nothing! We all have something to contribute, be it time, skills, resources or ideas. Revealing this wealth of untapped potential at the outset can foster contributive behaviours.


Keep in mind the guiding question while implementing this method: what, where and when can I contribute?
Download Tool Supporting Files Not available