With the rise of online platforms, the importance of community engagement has become a significant part of running a nonprofit organization. Any public entity wants to increase its relevance and engagement to increase recognition and meet people within the community they’re operating in. These people can be their potential volunteers, contributors, or donors to help the organization support their cause.
Getting people to engage with an organization may sound easy, but it doesn’t happen instantly. Some organizations go online and create social media pages to reach out to their volunteers. They start an online community forum to drive more engagement and bring the community together who share a common interest or passion.
Increasing community engagement is a tough endeavor especially if you’re just starting. Every community has its own unique culture, so you need to stay on top when facilitating interactions and communicating the objectives and needs of the organization. With that in mind, here are the ways to build community engagement initiatives.
Establish a selection process
While it may be fun to get everyone on board, it’s important to handpick your members to ensure you’re getting high-quality and active participants. Conducting a selection process can help the organization select its target audience.
Volunteer qualifications may involve selection standards or prioritized socio-demographic sectors. The quality of data may depend on the set of criteria established by the organization. This may include age, educational attainment, location, hobby, or interests.
When organizing the selection process, you have to stay transparent to get everyone involved. You can do this by publicly sharing the selection process and the results. This includes the program stakeholders and the candidates who didn’t make it. You can post the criteria and results on online platforms such as your website, online forums, and social media page.
Organize community events
People join organizations because it gives them a sense of exclusivity. It keeps them interested and makes them feel special at the same time. Every organization wants its members to be a part of a shared community and encourages them to value their participation.
A great way to do this is by organizing community events. This form of gathering can be virtual or in-person, depending on the location and availability of your members. Whatever you pick, both options allow higher engagement and attendance. A great tip is to combine both options to allow physical and virtual interactions.
In-person events may vary from restaurant dining, office meeting, or a team-building activity. Any place can be an ideal venue as long as you can gather the members in a single place. Virtual events work for organizations with a global audience. You can schedule a webinar or a group discussion where the members can share their stories and speak out their ideas.
There are plenty of options for community events, you just need to choose which one works for your members. To make the decision easier, start a poll and ask members what works for them.
Give out recognition
Recognizing a member or a group in your organization will encourage them to be more involved and make them feel valued. Remember that a community is only as strong as its members, so it’s important to look after them and allow them to feel appreciated.
There are plenty of ways to recognize members for their worthwhile contributions. Recognitions may vary from awards, badges, gifts, shoutouts, greetings, and birthday wishes. For instance, if a contributor has a habit of offering helpful insights at every meeting, present them an award for their active participation the next time you’re holding a party or event. This will inspire other members to work harder and contribute to the organization.
Allow members to be heard
It’s difficult to know what the members like or dislike about the organization if you don’t give them the chance to speak out. You don’t want them to get frustrated and post their concerns on their social media accounts. You can prevent this by opening the feedback loop to know the pain points of the organization.
There are plenty of ways to obtain feedback from the members, and you can pick which option works best for your group. A common example is sending out satisfaction surveys on their email. The survey may contain a 10-point rating scale and an open-ended question where they can write their suggestions.
Community engagement plays an important role in bringing together people who share common interests and objectives. With the rise of communication platforms, community leaders should make the most of online tools to get their message across to their target audiences. This way, it enables you to extend a better understanding of your organization’s aspirations and needs.