‘Community Engagement’ has become a trendy buzzword heard in all sorts of contexts, from annual CSR reports to small municipalities holding public forums. It is no wonder that the meaning has become somewhat vague.
So, what is community engagement?
Simply put it is just like it sounds, engaging with one’s community. The word ‘engage’ implies interaction and dialog and the word ‘community’ referrs to any group of people that share a common bond. (Read more about different kinds of communities from Feverbee.) Given this perspective, community engagement is the process of building two-way communication between a group of people. It is creating dialog.
All manner of organizations have communities and engaging those communities is an important task. Whether it’s a fashion brand building interest on Instagram or a local nonprofit doing a development project, both see value in interacting and creating dialog with their communities. Organizations that do this well are the organizations that empower community members to contribute and to create a place that they feel a part of, whether that be a brand, a political movement, or city neighborhood.
The underlining reason for doing community engagement is to understand who the community is and how to best serve them. The fact of the matter is, that many organization are built on and supported by a community.
Businesses have customers. Political parties, Unions and Non-profits have members. Sports teams have supporters. The list goes on, the common theme is that these organizations all have a community of one type or another and it is in the organizations interest to understand their community.
The benefits of community engagement
Effective engagement has many benefits and the specific outcomes of community engagement activities often depends on an organization’s objectives. However, there are some universal benefits regardless of organization type or objectives.
- Improved communications and relationships.
- Broader community “buy-in” or support for initiatives.
- The collection of useful insights and ideas.
- Improved reputation by building trust.
- Strengthened decision-making processes.
- More accountability.
Remember, community engagement is a process of building dialog within a group for the purposes understanding and relationship deportment, and the process can result in benefits such as better decision making and greater community commitment.
"Real, sustainable community change requires the initiative and engagement of community members."
-Helene D Gayle
You can check out the original article from the Future Dialog website here. Future Dialog provides a turn key solution for community engagement. Allowing organizations to reach, hear and impact their communities.