Engaging with local initiatives is a fantastic way to give back to your community and make a positive impact. However, timing is critical to maximising your efforts. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies for maximising engagement while considering the timing factors relevant to your role.

Know Your Community Calendar: Before diving into local initiatives, your first step is to become familiar with when school holidays, major festivals, and community events take place. Depending on your target audience, these dates can either be the perfect time to launch your initiative or a time to avoid. Start with the following:

  • School Holidays: Leveraging school holidays can be a great strategy for boosting engagement. Kids, teachers, and parents often have more free time during these breaks. Consider organising events like workshops, day camps, or fun educational programs. These initiatives keep children engaged and provide parents with constructive ways to keep their kids occupied during the holidays. It might also be an excellent time to scout for quality interns looking to get into the public service.
  • Back-to-School Initiatives: By the same token, late summer and early autumn offer a window to support local schools and students. Plan back-to-school initiatives like school supply drives, volunteer opportunities, or mentorship programs. These efforts help create a sense of community while aiding students as they embark on a new academic year.
  • Holiday Season Engagement: Large holidays are usually not a good time to ask for something from the community, so take a breather from consultations and find out how you can give back or otherwise thank them for their efforts this year. Consider sending gratitude emails, hosting community charity runs to support those in need. Hold space for your staff to take leave instead of overcommitting – they’ve worked hard this year. 
  • Seasonal Initiatives: Consider how you can tap into enthusiasm during every season, considering both the climate and how your community might be feeling. For example, pleasant weather and extended daylight hours create ideal conditions for outdoor activities, such as community cleanups, beautification projects, or sports programs. People may feel more motivated to get involved for the first time just after the New Year, or might be more inspired by a “Spring Cleaning” theme. Even the dreariest winters can be made to sound inviting with initiatives to the tune of cozy, community-focused round tables. Think about what they key groups in your district value – busy parents, active retirees, budding professionals, and so on – and consider launching campaigns or events that align with the seasonal enthusiasm.

For You Campaigns: You have an obligation to consult on certain things – planning and development, expenditure, bylaw reforms and so on. But none of this sparks joy in the average resident. A “For You” Campaign is a consultation and engagement activity that goes beyond your minimum requirements and focuses on something that is truly important to your average resident. This is usually something fun like environmental initiatives like tree planting, community gardens, or a beautification project like a public mural. If you show that you are listening to what the people want, they are more likely to want to tune into what’s important for you later on. The most important part of For You Campaigns is ensuring that your focus is on something that a large group actually asked for, not just on something you think is best.

Participate in Local Festivals and Events: Many communities have annual festivals and events that draw large crowds. As an outreach manager, explore the possibility of setting up information booths or participating in these events to increase awareness of your council’s initiatives. These gatherings are excellent opportunities to connect with residents and showcase your engagement efforts.

Digital Presence: Your role must include maintaining a strong online presence. Use social media platforms and community websites to promote your initiatives. Share engaging content, success stories, and updates to keep people informed and foster community involvement.

Collaborate and Partner: Join forces with other local organisations, businesses, schools, and other community stakeholders to amplify your outreach efforts. Collaborations can help you tap into different networks and pool resources for larger, more impactful initiatives.

Thoughtful engagement requires thoughtful planning. Successful community engagement isn’t about when you start; it’s about maintaining momentum. Maintain open lines of communication with participants and show appreciation for their contributions. Continually update your community on progress and successes to keep them motivated and engaged throughout the year. Remember that the key to successful engagement is to be passionate, consistent, and open to collaboration with others who share your vision for positive change. 

If you’d like to learn more about what Citizen Space can do for your organisation, book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.