As you are surely aware by this point, community engagement is both multi-faceted and affected by the characteristics of the community in which you are working – its history, culture, politics, relationships, and previous experiences. Clearly then, carefully planning your engagement efforts – and its specific goals – and designing your process accordingly is essential.

This section takes a look at the five primary goals your engagement planning will want to consider: informing, consulting, involving, collaborating, and empowering (Bassler et al, 2008) Each of these goals provides you with an opportunity to assess what's most important to your engagement efforts as well as the ability to develop the strategies and tools necessary to make these efforts successful An essential guide to many of these tools can be found in 2010 Resource Guide to Public Engagement (NCDD) The following discussion outlines these goals and briefly describes selected tools available within each The table below provides an overview of each of these as developed by the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2)

Increasing Level of Public Impact ==>

Inform Consult Involve Collaborate Empower
Public Participation Goal To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problems, alternatives and/or solutions To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decision To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public issues and concerns are consistently understood and considered To Partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution To place final decision-making in the hands of the public
Promise to the Public We will keep you informed We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision We will work with you to ensure that your concerns and issues are directly reflected in the alternatives developed and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision We will look to you for direct advice and innovation in formulating solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible We will implement what you decide
Example Tools - Factsheets
- Websites
- Open Houses
- Public comment
- Focus groups
- Surveys
- Public Meetings
- Workshops
- Deliberate polling
- Citizen Advisory Committees
- Consensus-building
- Participatory decision-making
- Citizen Juries
- Ballots
- Delegating decisions

copyright to International Association of Public Participation (IAP2)

More information on Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate and Empower


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

"Resource Guide on Public Engagement" National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), 2010