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.
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!