Community Engagement 101

From what to how to why, an essential guide to understanding fundamentals of community engagement

Community engagement can be a complicated concept. Too often, attempts at singular definitions turn the concept of engaging people to have their say on decisions that impact their lives into abstract notions that sideline it’s essence. Emphasis on the lived experience of community members taking a front seat and local knowledges informing decision-making processes challenges a top-down approach to public decisions. It also deepens democracy at a time when it is under threat the world over.

Community Engagement 101 cuts through these abstract attempts and instead provides a fundamental understanding of the meaning, use and ever-increasing global role of community engagement in public decision making. With the rise in deepening and expanding public engagement globally – indeed, in some cases the mandating of public participation – the need for answers to straightforward questions is required.

Learn the basics of community engagement with this accessible series organised around four pivotal questions: 

What is community engagement?
How do you engage communities?
Why is community engagement important?
What are the benefits of online engagement?

Written for on-the-ground practitioners, engagement professionals and community members, these articles provide accessible explanations that cover the basics and bring an understanding of the principles that underline best-practice engagement. 

In amplifying these key questions, we’re honing Bang the Table’s mission to enable public participation as a fundamental pillar of well-functioning twenty-first-century democracies by forging constructive relationships between communities and the institutions of government. With the rise in deepening and expanding public engagement globally, community engagement has become pivotal for the strengthening and renewal of democracy. 

So, whether you’re looking for an introduction to the concept or a refresher, Community Engagement 101 provides answers to fundamental questions that underpin engagement. Whether you’re looking to understand community engagement practice or want to explore the concept as it relates to sustainable public decision making for liveable neighbourhoods, regions cities and towns, this easy-to-navigate series is a go-to compendium.


Community Engagement 101


What is Community Engagement?

In the first of our essentials guide, this article asks the primary question, what is community engagement? This covers the meaning, use and role of community engagement in public decision making. It also looks at the types of engagement and asks, community engagement, citizen participation and public participation, what are the differences?


How do you engage communities?

How do you engage communities both online and in-person? How do governments use formal or ‘state-sanctioned’ participation initiatives to invite the public to engage beyond voting? This article takes in community engagement models that have evolved to show that how you engage a community depends on the degree of influence given over to the community in decision-making processes.


Why is community engagement important?

What is the benefit of engaging with your community? This article unpacks what government and community can gain through engaging with community. Community engagement is, primarily, part of a dialogue where organisations and communities can make decisions to create social capital. From building cohesive communities to helping local governments promote sustainable decisions and drive social transformation, this essentials guide takes in six key reasons community engagement is important.


Benefits of online community engagement

Why do we engage online? This article sets out how online engagement brings added dimensions and benefits to public decision making. From giving everyone a chance to be heard by engaging unrepresented groups to better responsiveness and transparency that builds trust between governments and citizens, it looks at how online engagement brings out issues that really matter to community.

Published Date: 6 September 2019 Last modified on October 7, 2019

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