Managing community consultation fatigue

Setting expectations and coordinating across the organisation can work to avoid consultation fatigue.


Avoiding consultation fatigue:

To keep people interested in the current consultation


To bring people back to new consultations.

Participant retention:

To reduce database churn and keep people in the system for the long term.

What would drive people away?

  • Failure to deliver on projects that have been consulted on previously.
  • Failure to explain why projects couldn’t be delivered.
  • Failure to acknowledge previous contributions.
  • Failure to report back a summary of the consultation outcomes.
  • Failure to report back on the impact of the consultation process.
  • Too many emails in general.
  • Too many emails about irrelevant subjects.

What can we do to reduce fatigue?

  • Acknowledge particularly thoughtful contributions.
  • Follow up personally with valuable contributors to have a deeper conversation about their views and suggestions.
  • Share thoughtful contributions via social media.
  • Share thoughtful contributions at face-to-face events (using panels, slideshows etc.)
  • Let contributors know when the consultation process hits major milestones.
  • Invite contributors to participate in deeper decision-making processes.
  • Distribute a summary email of recent consultation activity.

What can we do to get people to re-engage?

  • Consult on interesting subjects that are easy to understand, have concrete impacts and some emotional content.
  • Ask interesting and engaging questions.
  • Provide a good reason to come back. How will the consultation affect the outcomes? How will the issue under discussion directly affect them?
  • Provide incentives including prizes or preferred access to processes (e.g. by invitation Council meetings).
  • Personally invite people who have participated in the past to join discussions about new issues.
  • Honour the commitment required to participate in the consultation process by closing the loop.

What can we do to keep people in the database long term?

  • Keep emailed information to a minimum.
  • Keep emailed information highly relevant to the individual (potentially by asking them to nominate subjects of interest in the registration form).
  • Keep emailed information local by targeting information to people from specific suburbs that are more likely to be interested in projects.
  • Always close the loop!

Download the Tips Sheet here:

Published Date: 11 July 2012 Last modified on June 29, 2019

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