Community engagement refers to the process by which community benefit organizations and individuals build ongoing, permanent relationships for the purpose of applying a collective vision for the benefit of a community. While community organizing involves the process of building a grassroots movement involving communities, community engagement primarily deals with the practice of moving said communities towards change, usually from a stalled or otherwise similarly suspended position.
Practical community engagement is used as an active method of implementing change. While most current standards implore more static means through standard marketing techniques, community engagement involves actively implementing a specific process towards activism such as the 8-step guideline listed below developed by Hildy Gottlieb of Creating the Future. While the process may have similarities to a controversial form of friendraising, the emphasis in community engagement is that of honest relationship building for the sake of community, not for the sole purpose of money-making. The steps are:
Determine the goals of the plan
Prioritize those activities
Plan out who to engage
Create an implementation plan
Develop engagement strategies for those individuals you already know
Monitor your progress
Develop engagement strategies of those individuals you do not already know
Maintain those relationships
Other programs exist to assist communities in the process of building community coalitions for engagement. One such program is Communities That Care which helps communities assess their needs and implement tested and effective programs to address their identified issues.
Vision-based community impact planning
Community impact planning
Organizational wellness planning
Building programs on shared resources
Asset-based resource development