A number of organizations and scholars have identified core principles of community engagement. The Co-Intelligence Institute has developed the following seven core principles that effectively reflect the common beliefs and understandings of those working in the field of community engagement – conflict, conflict resolution, and collaboration. In practice, these principles and others, are applied in many different ways.

Our most enduring finding is that communities are never perfect, but they count. They and their citizenry are key to improving everything from education and economic development to health care and race relations.

David Mathews, Kettering Foundation, 2008
  1. Careful planning and Preparation. Through adequate and inclusive planning, ensure that the design, organization, and convening of the process serve both a clearly defined purpose and the needs of the participants.
  2. Inclusion and Demographic Diversity. Equitably incorporate diverse people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
  3. Collaboration and Shared Purpose. Support and encourage participants, government and community institutions, and others to work together to advance the common good.
  4. Openness and Learning. Help all involved listen to each other, explore new ideas unconstrained by predetermined outcomes, learn and apply information in ways that generate new options, and rigorously evaluate community engagement activities for effectiveness.
  5. Transparency and Trust. Be clear and open about the process, and provide a public record of the organizers, sponsors, outcomes, and range of views and ideas expressed.
  6. Impact and Action. Ensure each participatory effort has real potential to make a difference, and that participants are aware of that potential.
  7. Sustained Engagement and Participatory Culture. Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality community engagement.


"Core Principles for Public Engagement." National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Co-Intelligence Institute, 2009.

Matthews, David. "Connections 2008: Focus on Communities." Kettering Foundation, 2008.