Many recognize the importance of community engagement, not just by governments or public organizations but individuals like yourself too. It’s necessary for making local communities livable and public decisions sustainable. On an individual level, it can help you better understand the aspirations and needs of your community.
But regardless of whether you’re a private individual or run a nonprofit organization, community engagement should be on your priority list. Leading to improved outcomes, your community can share your needs and aspirations. You also help reach their concerns and goals. At the same time, public decision-makers can have a more thoughtful decision-making process for the community’s improvement. Read on to learn more about community engagement and how you can improve it.
1. Create a Safe Place to Express
Regardless of whether it’s for your nonprofit members or locals in general, the first thing you should ensure is that everyone can freely express themselves. After all, it’s the people that create the community itself. Encourage them to share their passions, goals, experiences, and stories. This is a fantastic way to show the members that they are valued and listened to. In return, you cannot only increase community engagement and participation but also members’ retention. Some easy tricks to encourage community members to express themselves are through “have your say” walls and fan walls. Or, you can invest time in creating content to show that you care about the ideas of your community members.
2. Map Community Priorities
One part of boosting community engagement is creating programs for both members and local citizens. No matter what type of program you’re planning, you must first identify your community’s real priorities and needs. You can accomplish this through community assessments like house-to-house surveys. Such an approach is not only helpful in identifying your needs and preferences. But also for informing the community members about the current and future programs. At the same time, the people would know the community leaders or personnel they should go to when they need assistance. If you want to keep your members engaged, ensure they know to whom they should go when a community issue needs a solution.
3. Improve Disability Accessibility
Creating an accessible community can help you maximize engagement. Doing this won’t just benefit individuals with disabilities but also their careers, families, and friends. Your community and its organizations should continue creating and improving accessibility strategies and plans for community members with disabilities. For communication and information access, you can invest in an accessibility software to effectively talk to hard-of-hearing members. Such type of software generally features monitored calls, speech-to-text capabilities, and several available languages. Besides that, you can also create more visual or verbal announcements, signs with Braille, and captions and sign language interpretations on local TV. Other areas to prioritize are education access, employment access, and physical access.
4. Foster Education and Training
In particular to local and nonprofit organizations, offering educational and training opportunities is of great importance. People join a nonprofit or community organization to give back, help, and support the cause. But at the same time, they’d also want to grow both professionally and personally. Maintain high engagement by providing your members with various learning opportunities. A few examples are workshops, webinars and seminars, Q&A sessions with professionals, and education opportunities. These beneficial activities can keep your members engaged, confident, inspired, motivated, and active. Beyond that, that will gladly return the favor of your support. Consider working with the relevant instructors in your local area to create the appropriate training materials and educational activities.
5. Work on Community Moderation
While it’s essential your members can freely express themselves, you also need to moderate your community. All members should feel safe about expressing themselves while respecting the opinions of others. Take serious measures in preventing inappropriate or offensive behavior, bullying, and trolling. Community moderation, online or offline, might sound a bit negative. But it’s a thoughtful approach to keep your members attentive and active in the community. You can create moderators from your most motivated people while boosting your members’ loyalty and trust.
From building cohesive communities to providing access to valued social activities, there’s no doubt community engagement is necessary. Establishing a community allows you to communicate with your members and shows how much you value their input. Communities foster ideas of participation and empowerment and help people live meaningfully and have a healthy lifestyle. If you’re on a mission to drive social change and transformation, the engagement strategies in this guide are great places to start.