The Importance of Community Engagement in Nonprofit PR

For many nonprofits, PR can make or break the organization. One of the most important aspects of nonprofit PR that many do not see from the outside is community engagement. Community engagement is made up of the actions a company takes to create relationships with its surrounding community. A lot of the time, these communities are included in the population that the nonprofit is serving. These actions show nonprofit executives what the community truly needs, which therefore allows the PR professional to explain these needs to the public. 

Why Community Engagement Matters

 Community engagement is crucial because it tells the organization why they are sharing a certain message. It puts faces and stories to the cause that they are fighting for. Without engaging the community, the organization’s executives are simply guessing what is needed rather than hearing directly from the source. 

I saw this firsthand when working as a Marketing and Outreach Intern at an education-based nonprofit organization. My directors were able to make educated decisions on what the community needed because they were consistently building relationships. Putting emphasis on community engagement allowed our organization to properly explain our needs to the general public. In addition, we knew how to communicate effectively with the surrounding community in a way that would create long-lasting relationships. This strategy makes it more likely that nonprofit organizations’ solutions for their target population are sustainable because they consulted those who need them most. 

Ways to Engage the Community

Community engagement can be executed in many different ways. I have found that one of the best tactics is planning community-based events. Events allow the organization and community members to get to know each other on a social level. It also ensures that more members of the community feel comfortable with the organization’s employees. Any of the following are great events that will encourage various participants of all ages and backgrounds to join.

  • Block Parties 
  • Art and Vendor Festivals
  • Holiday-based Events (e.g., Halloween party or Christmas celebration)
  • Open Forums About Upcoming Events or Campaigns

The organization can also interview or survey its community over time to see if needs have changed. Overall, if a nonprofit really wants to commit to its community engagement initiatives, its executives and employees should keep an “open door” policy. This will be different for every situation, but this essentially means that community members should feel encouraged to voice their opinions to the organization. 

The use of community engagement within a nonprofit organization has the potential to positively impact both the future of the organization and the community itself. When it comes down to it, though, community engagement is more than just a strategic move for nonprofit PR departments. It shows the community that they are a valued part of the organization. 

Margo Haas, Account Associate 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close