Digital Marketing

5 Tips for Increasing Community Engagement

Whether you’re a school superintendent or a member of your city’s parks and recreation department, you play an important role in promoting community engagement. Communities tend to be strongest when individual members work together to create a positive environment. Unfortunately, many modern cities, schools, and neighborhoods feel disconnected and lack a sense of cohesion. If your school or municipality feels like this, it may be time for a change in strategy.

Community engagement occurs when ordinary citizens feel invested and involved in community happenings. They attend events, talk with their neighbors, and contribute to their local economy. To encourage this, city governments and schools should focus on meeting the expectations, needs, and desires of local individuals and families. Here are five tips for increasing community engagement and strengthening your town or city in the process.

1. Create Accessible Outdoor Spaces

When planning public parks and playgrounds, it’s important to make them as inclusive as possible. For example, instead of installing only standard swing sets, consider including one or two wheelchair-accessible swing sets as well. You might also want to install more easily accessible routes to different playground structures and features. Taking inclusive steps like these will help boost community engagement and satisfaction.

According to Pew Research, approximately 7.3 million students in grades K-12 have some sort of disability. Most of these are learning disabilities, but some fall under the physical disabilities category. Many school and city playgrounds aren’t designed to meet the needs of all children. Therefore, some students may feel unnecessarily excluded and neglected. Make sure the park in your community is designed to meet the needs of all children and families in your area.

2. Organize Events

Remember the old saying, “The family that plays together, stays together?” Well, you can swap out the word “family” with “community” and get a similar outcome. It’s hard to build strong neighborhoods and cities if residents don’t know each other. Encourage interaction and neighborly bonds by organizing local events on an annual basis. Invite families and individuals to volunteer at these events to boost engagement even more.

If you’re struggling to come up with event ideas, ask members of your community for their input. Some event suggestions might include movies in the park, city day carnivals, and annual holiday parties for children and families. In addition to strengthening interpersonal relationships and stimulating a sense of belonging, these events can also bring in much-needed revenue. When residents and tourists spend money at such events, they support home-grown businesses and strengthen the local economy.

3. Invest in Community Spaces

As important as it is to increase tourist-generated revenue, community engagement should always emphasize putting your residents first. Unlike tourists and visitors who come and go, locals are generally there for the long term. You can cater to their needs by investing in quality community spaces. These spaces should be clean, engaging, and attractive so families will want to spend time in them.

Many city planners and designers find that participatory design helps maximize the use of any finished space. Participatory design involves users directly in the planning process. For example, consider asking schoolchildren to help design features of a new public library. Or you could invite community feedback during the planning stages of a soon-to-be-constructed recreation center. Involving local residents in these ways can boost ownership and engagement surrounding community spaces.

Also Read: 6 Online Engagement Tips for Your Business

4. Invite Feedback

There are many ways to lead a school district, local government, or any other community group. Some leaders may exercise a more independent, authoritarian style and make major decisions at their own discretion. Generally, this is not a good way to stimulate community involvement and trust. It’s far better to invite feedback from those you oversee and serve. This will help create a culture of public trust and inclusion.

Whether you’re thinking about renovating your town’s elementary school or installing a local skate park, invite community feedback. Involve residents in two-way communication so they don’t feel their voices are being stifled or ignored. As you involve community members, they’ll naturally feel more engaged and invested in local decision-making processes.

5. Be Responsive

Many people have a deep-seated suspicion of government and city leaders. Don’t take this personally, but decide instead to do everything you can to increase public trust by being transparent and honest. Always listen to the needs of residents, then act on their invaluable insights. Don’t ask for feedback unless you intend to turn that feedback into action.

Of course, you can’t implement every suggestion you receive from members of your community. Doing so would be costly, time-consuming, and might not serve the needs of your town or city very well.  But if you decide not to act on a suggestion or request, let the community members know why. The more open and communicative you are, the more effective you’ll be at keeping citizens engaged and involved in local matters.

Community engagement leads to trust and collective improvement. It’s a key component of well-rounded public schools, neighborhoods, and cities. It can be challenging to get community members to come together and feel a sense of belonging and ownership. Use these tips to naturally increase community engagement.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out these additional resources for further insights and information.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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