How to write a community engagement plan

Writing a community engagement plan can be a daunting task for any project manager or community engagement officer. There’s a lot to consider when planning community engagement. 

Here’s a list of what to include in your community engagement plan and why it’s important.

  1. Background information. Include project context and any previous community engagement learnings from other projects that are relevant to this project and community.
  2. Clearly defined engagement purpose and engagement objectives. This will determine the engagement methods you select and also help when evaluating your community engagement activities and provides measures of success.
  3. Engagement principles to guide how you’re going to engage with the community. 
  4. Risks and challenges and mitigation strategies. Think through any potential risks, rate the likelihood and impact of each risk and consider ways to reduce any risks. This is beneficial for the project and the community.
  5. Level of engagement. This determines how you will engage with the community and what role the community will have in decision making (if any) from informing/being informed to empowering/being empowered to make a decision. We consider the IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) spectrum to be best practice. You can download it here.
  6. Negotiables and non-negotiables. What can the community influence? What is in and out of scope for the project? This helps to manage the community’s expectations about their involvement in the project.
  7. Key messages to use when communicating with the community about the project and consultation activities.
  8. Stakeholder analysis includes details of all stakeholders, internal and external, their level and nature of interest in the project and level of engagement. Consider the contribution that stakeholders can make to the project. Also think about how to provide access to a diverse range of community members including those with a disability, youth, people from different cultures and those who have little time to contribute such as busy parents.
  9. This will also help you select engagement methods for your community engagement plan.
  10. Engagement methods. Here’s where the rubber hits the road in your community engagement plan. We recommend identifying how and when you will engage with each stakeholder.
  11. Closing the loop. How will you report back to the community about the community engagement findings and how they influenced the project? This is important for building trust with the community for future projects.
  12. Evaluation. What worked well and what learnings can you carry forward for your next community engagement project? Did you meet the engagement purpose and engagement objectives of your community engagement plan?

Need help with your community engagement plan? Send us an email – info@articulous.com.au

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