12 ideas to help you add ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Empower’ tools to your Engagement Activities.

12 ideas to help you add ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Empower’ tools to your Engagement Activities.

The ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Empower’ levels of the Engagement Spectrum are home to some of the most engaging, enduring and powerful community engagement tools in the community engagement toolkit.

Unfortunately, too often organisations avoid or, worse, fear these tools.

Not long ago, I met with a government body who had just developed a new engagement framework. The framework like so many others, rightly, featured the Engagement Spectrum developed by the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). However, in this case, the levels known as ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Empower’ had been left off – reducing the Spectrum to 3 layers of engagement rather than 5 levels.

I’ve seen this done before but here I had the perfect opportunity to ask “Why would you do that?”.

There wasn’t a great answer to that question but from what I could interpret it seemed the move was designed to avoid deliberative democracy (citizen jury) type processes which are very popular right now.

Here is a link to a recent blog post by Max Hardy where he talks about 3 elements that help plan a deliberative process right.

That itself is a really narrow view. And by taking the decision to guard against deliberative processes they have also cut off a HUGE suite of other tools and strategies and deliberative processes which used in the right situations with the right planning and person(s) to deliver it are a great, enduring and powerful tool.

There is nothing to fear in embracing Collaborate and Empower tools as you read through the list below you will probably spot some tools that you are using regularly anyway.  Imagine how much more powerful they could be if they were planned and purposeful.

12 Community Engagement Tools

Here is 12 collaboration and empower tools for you to consider. Both online and face-to-face options exist for just about all of these.

1.     Stakeholder advisory and working groups of all types.
2.     Conversations
3.     Conferences
4.     Volunteering and community leadership programs.
5.     Mediation and negotiation
6.     Sponsoring a local sports groups, events etc
7.     Storytelling
8.     Working with a stakeholder to encourage them to take more responsibility.
9.     Working with stakeholders who have unique skills or perspectives to bring to your project(s).
10.   Visioning, participatory budgeting, prioritisation and decision-making processes.
11.   Public meetings, open houses and workshops (depending on the processes you use).
12.   Activities to test scenarios and services with the target audience.

As always remember to research stakeholders and plan your engagement activity based on the outcomes you and your stakeholders want to achieve.

Here is a previous post about how to plan your Community and Stakeholder Engagement activity.

Here is a link to a previous post about stakeholder analysis.


Download my free guide to stakeholder analysis from my free resources library.

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