Developing and evaluating an engagement plan

The involvement of stakeholders, partners and communities in government and agency planning, decision-making and service delivery is important for ensuring the responsiveness, quality and effectiveness of programmes and services. Effective community and sector engagement also contributes to broader social outcomes such as building capacity and supporting democratic processes. Rather than presenting a prescriptive approach to planning and evaluating community engagement activities, the resources here encourage practitioners to use their judgement in matching the approaches and methods  to best support the objectives and budget of the engagement program in question.

Planning community engagement

Community engagement toolkit for planning. This 2017 toolkit has been developed by the Queensland Government with advice from community engagement specialists and their peak representative body – the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). It points to the use of practical tools and information intended to support local governments meet their requirements to engage with the community. It is also intended to support community members and stakeholders in their interactions with the plan-making process.

Engagement strategy template. This Engagement Strategy Template from the New Zealand Government web toolkit is intended to be a starting point for you to use in developing your project engagement strategy. It works for a range of uses – not just for a web development. Each section is set up for you to add information that meets your requirements. Prompts and example text is provided.

Back to Basics: How to Make Stakeholder Engagement Meaningful. This Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) report by Jonathan Morris, Farid Baddache and colleagues aims to guide internal discussions on tools and approaches to stakeholder engagement. Use this document as a starting point when approaching stakeholder engagement for the first time, or as a refresher when revising a current engagement strategy. Although written for companies thinking about CSR, it is also useful for agencies and other organisations.

Community engagement techniques – Queensland Health. Community engagement ranges from simple information sharing to consultation and finally, to active participation. This document provides detailed information about techniques that can be used when engaging with communities.

Community engagement: Developing a strategy. This guide from the Centre for Sustainable Energy outlines some important things to consider when planning a community engagement
strategy for your project or enterprise. It stresses that achieving your desired outcomes means being clear about your aims, identifying your target audience, understanding your resources and capacity, and planning accordingly. Another short document highlights a range of approaches to community consultation and engagement.

Community Planning Toolkit. This toolkit from the UK-based Community Places  provides guidance on the issues to consider when planning and designing community engagement. It focuses on
quality and effectiveness, process planning and designing engagement tailored to the particular issue, level of participation to be achieved, timeframe and range of stakeholders affected.

Creating an effective public engagement strategy. This guide from the City of Victoria (Canada)   provides guidance on the issues to consider when planning and designing community engagement. It focuses on
quality and effectiveness, process planning and designing engagement tailored to the particular issue, level of participation to be achieved, timeframe and range of stakeholders affected

Evaluating community engagement

Engaging Queenslanders: Evaluating community engagement. This report has been designed to assist public officials at all levels to evaluate community engagement activities. It provides guidance in: i) developing an evaluation framework;  ii) developing evaluation data collection tools; iii) interpreting and analysing evaluation data; and ensuring evaluation outcomes feed into future planning  and decision-making. A shorter description summarises the main points in Evaluating community engagement.

Evaluating Engagement Efforts. This set of web pages from the Center for Economic and Community Development, PennState University highlights some of the key concepts and considerations embedded in the broader context of evaluation. This includes sections on evaluation: planning, evaluation types, benchmarking and choosing what to measure.

Evaluating community impact. This set of web resources from the Tamarack Institute encourages us to use , and points us in the direction of, new ways of measuring change, exploring who is responsible for outcomes, developing methods that can keep up with the fast-moving pace of community change activities, alternative approaches for getting change makers involved in the actual assessment process, and using the results to drive new thinking, better strategies and deeper impact.

Raising expectations of democratic participation: an analysis of the national human rights consultation. Consultation, public participation and civic engagement are real-world expressions of democracy. The conceptual framework within which they sit includes all theories of democracy but, in particular, participatory or deliberative democracy. This 2010 paper by Lyn Carson and Ron Lubensky is concerned with the way democratic participation is currently expressed. It also re-introduces a useful evaluation framework based on the original principles developed by the practitioners at the 2005 International Conference on Engaging Communities.