How can you make sure that community engagement is successful? It’s one thing to acknowledge that community engagement is important in leading a successful organization, but it’s another thing entirely to figure out how to make sure your engagement activities are successful as well. If you want to ensure success in your community endeavors, keep the following advice in mind.
As a company, transparency is important in building trust between yourself and the community you plan on serving. This includes the criteria you look at when finding a target group for your organization in the first place: geographic information, socio-demographic sectors, and other quantitative information should all be shared with those being examined. Once you have your information, post it all for your target community, program stakeholders, and unselected communities to see if they so wish.
Assess your community
You can’t engage with your community if you’re unsure of how to do so properly. The best—and easiest—way to do this is by contacting the community leaders and the members of the community itself. Doing this will give you different perspectives on the most pressing issues and can easily be conducted by handing out brief questionnaires to everyone. While this lets you assess the community you’re taking part in, it also gives you a way to make others aware of your program or organization: its goals, present objectives, next moves, and so on.
If you choose to go the questionnaire route, frame your questions properly. Rather than straight out asking who the leaders are, ask who everyone turns to when community issues need to be resolved.
Meet with the leaders
Don’t expect to place routes in a new community and have the trust of its members right away, especially if your chosen community is vulnerable. It’s possible that they’ve had organizations come in before with promises that they ended up breaking, so approaching engagement by calling for meetings without properly established channels is bound to end poorly. Rather, you should contact the community leaders once you’ve identified them to introduce yourself, your program or organization, and inquire about how to best engage with the community as a whole.
Leaders, after all, are the key to proper engagement. They’ll be able to identify how to effectively engage with the broader community, which will let you get a proper foothold in both success and general engagement.