“Plan out your work; then work out your plan.” – Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda

CORD’s structural model is not parallel to the constitutionally established Panchayati Raj Institution at the Gram Panchayat level as a unit of self-governance. CORD creates its Community Based Organizations (CBOs) ward-wise, following the Panchayat ward structure, enabling people at the grassroots level to voice their opinions collectively at the Up-Gram Sabha and then at the Gram Sabha level.

The strategy and principals of CORD – active participation, integration, sustainability and networking – are integral and core of every program of CORD.

CORD does not follow just time-bound project-based program approach, instead it has comprehensive community-driven sustainable programs, which continue to grow spirally and organically even after a particular project period is over.

CORD does not duplicate what government is doing, but definitely helps to strengthen the implementation of the programs at the grassroots level by being the facilitator with the rural community. For instance, CORD would not open a school or a hospital in an area that already has government facilities, but would help in addressing the service gaps and enhancing the community’s participation to both demand services and take responsibilities for these issues.

CORD believes that people are active partners and not just mere program beneficiaries. Many of the CORD team members had been beneficiaries first, and then became active team members of CORD to empower their communities.

CORD puts women at the center stage, and all its programs are facilitated through the Mahila Mandals or Women’s Groups ward-wise in a Panchayat. Moreover, CORD’s Self-Help Groups are formed within the Mahila Mandals so that they are seamlessly integrated from the beginning as a collective of substance and sustainability.

CORD does not work in isolation. It deals with every issue comprehensively, and does not view them as fragmented and isolated. CORD addresses them being interconnected to each other and build the community’s capacity to become active participants in resolving these issues.

Further, along with the community, CORD works with various government agencies and departments, national and international developmental organizations, funding agencies, corporates, experts, and individual contributors to create a holistic and sustainable approach in rural development, and leverage existing facilities through them.

CORD has evolved its model to make it a ‘plug-and-play model’, which could be utilized in any rural development environment with minimal adjustments. The empowerment strategy of CORD is a tried-and-tested model since its inception in 1985, and is a flexible, adaptable and replicable model throughout rural India. It has so far replicated the established model used in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh to other sites in India such as Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Punjab.

CORD is constantly sharing its learning with various stakeholders in rural development by providing experiential and expositional training programs through its training center, based at Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh.

A spiritual thread runs through both the team members and the community members to unfold the inner potential and strengths. This helps in creating a transformation for both the sevāk (service provider) and the recipients.