Refreshing techniques to enhance your civic engagement this 2020

As a community, there is no greater achievement than making your citizens feel like they belong. Connecting with your stakeholders and maintaining citizens'...

Thursday January 09, 2020

As a community, there is no greater achievement than making your citizens feel like they belong. Connecting with your stakeholders and maintaining citizens’ pride and love for their community may be one of the most challenging tasks, as communities evolve and grow every day. An effective civic engagement strategy comes with many approaches - some are tried and true practices that have upheld great value from the beginning and others must be flexible to incorporate the new changes that are influencing society now.

2020 is a great opportunity to start fresh and re-evaluate how you’re engaging with your citizens so your community can remain a place to call home. Having a clear picture of what matters most to your audience can help you set priorities, anticipate roadblocks and get important insight into the decisions affecting the people in your community.

Here are some helpful tips to create a strong civic engagement in your community this 2020:

Ask the right questions

Learning to ask the right questions with genuine curiosity is necessary to finding a viable solution. Getting to know your constituents through regular, ongoing consultation is the most effective way to truly understand their needs. This inclusivity will help you create dialogue and understand which questions to ask. As much as you attempt to put yourself in your stakeholder’s situations, you are likely to only uncover the surface of community member’s opinions and insights.  Assumptions will only get you so far.

Listening + transparency = trust

If municipalities have an honest and listening ear, the probability of providing the right solutions to residents will increase. It is quite often that residents want to hear how their suggestions and input are being taken into action by the municipality. When you listen and are transparent with residents, the municipality can form better decisions for their community. By closing this feedback loop and relaying back to residents the actions and results their opinions are making, residents will be more appreciative and understanding to the governments decisions. If better decisions are formed, trust is built within your community. Trust is what ultimately sustains the connection and helps build stronger communities.

Remove barriers for participation

It is important for governments to consider the audience they are consulting and what barriers may restrict them from participating in engagement processes. By having an accessible website that complies with accessibility legislation, it increases the opportunity for more residents to access information and provide feedback. It also removes barriers for participation for their residents. When you make your website accessible with assistive technology, it will also help you communicate the messages you are sending to your residents in a clear and direct way.

Use digital tools

Using digital solutions can help spread your messages, get public engagement on projects and provide you with valuable insight into the conversations and data you’re collecting. Uploading survey forms, polls and questionnaires online, make it easier for community members to share their thoughts with you. This allows staff to compile results more efficiently. Connecting your website and social media channels allows citizens to find information and provide feedback where they are already spending their time. Digital solutions are an efficient way to gather insights from residents and strengthen your two-way channels – to ensure you’re maximizing your online presence.

Building connected communities

Building trust and facilitating ongoing dialogue with citizens will help create an inclusive and connected community. When you understand the issues that matter most to your residents, you can make better decisions on their behalf and create effective, compelling communications strategies. With effective planning, these strategies have the opportunity to build a stronger community and make it a place that says, “I belong here.”

As you look ahead to the coming months, what key priorities and projects would benefit from a deeper understanding of your residents perspectives? Do you have the tools you need that will allow you to engage with citizens and set your projects up for success? Let us help you bring your community engagement strategy into focus so that you can deliver results that best meet the individual needs of your community.

We’d love to hear from you and how your community is going to engage its citizens this year. 

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