There are five basic guiding principles of successful community engagement.

Principles of successful community engagement (Bassler et al, 2008) include those that:

  • Increase citizens' knowledge about a community and/or the issue you are seeking to address.
  • Encourage citizens to co-create additional knowledge and understanding and applying that knowledge.
  • Use that knowledge to improve the community or address the identified problem.
  • Create future opportunities for citizens to engage each other.
  • Ensure that these opportunities and effective communications becomes a regular and on-going component of the process.

To realize these principles, a number of shared perspectives should permeate your engagement efforts. A useful framework has been developed by IAP2 around the goals of citizens being informed, consulted, involved and empowered. The following broad perspectives underpin this framework and are important to consider when responding to the needs of stakeholders and the community:

  • Change is a fundamental part of growth and effective change must come from within individuals and groups.
  • Community engagement/growth starts by first changing ourselves, our attitudes, language and the way we view the world around us.
  • Communities are most successful when true partnerships exist and power or control is delegated and vested effectively within the community.


Bassler, A. et al., "Developing Effective Citizen Engagement: A How-to Guide for Community Leaders." Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 2008.