This article examines four normative expectations of community-driven development (CDD) programs and their concomitant criticisms from the perspective of community-based volunteers (CBVs). These volunteers compromise on the ideals of CDD to achieve results. Their compromises often become the focus of criticism. In devolving limited control over development resources to the local level, CDD also devolves the responsibility for failure. Based on a case study of a CDD program in Medan, Indonesia, this article argues that the way CBVs negotiate the impossibilities of CDD in urban contexts should become the starting point for a more realistic approach to making CDD succeed.