Civic engagement is important because it empowers the community by allowing citizens to be informed, actively participate in their community, and be involved in decisions for the community’s overall wellbeing. When community programs are properly engaged, they also allow for the local government to better reach the community’s needs. Here are a couple of ideas on how to get the community more involved:
Make it easy – People should be able to easily access data, information, and submit forms. Also, with today’s technology, communicating or meeting with the community can be simplified. For example meetings can be held virtually, or community groups can use online platforms such as social media to engage with members.
Provide incentives-For engagement to really be effective there should be incentives for all involved–community members and local officials/staff members. This will keep all people motivated to participate in reaching a common goal.
Empower Citizens-Citizens should feel empowered by participating in community affairs. Give the citizens some of the deciding power for certain issues that are directly related to their needs. Examples such as neighborhood groups, citizen councils, or community activists. This could also help develop community partnerships.
“Go where they are”- Sometimes you have to go where the people are. local government officials, staff members, and community coordinators should get involved by attending and participating local community events. This will also show the community that government can be fun or encourages participating with the community it runs.
Service Learning projects-Service learning projects combine learning an academic objective with community service. Research has shown that children who participate in service learning projects are more likely to be involved with the community as adults (2). Service Learning projects typically choose learning activities that closely align to the interests of people in the group.
Have sufficient resources- It’s important to track information and data on community engagement so that the necessary resources can be allocated properly. Always be sure that there are enough staff members for any set event.
We hope these ideas help you to improve community engagement!