For the last four years, we’ve researched, tested and shared ideas to improve engagement in the voluntary sector and in marginalised communities.
By engagement, we mean the range of activities designed to inform, or consult, or involve people in the decisions that affect them. Good engagement means successfully empowering communities to influence what happens.
There are three reasons why it’s vital for public sector and voluntary organisations to get engagement right.
The moral argument
People have a right to be engaged in the decisions that affect them.
With well-managed engagement, dissatisfaction drives continuous improvement. But with a disenfranchised population, dissatisfaction can escalate beyond easy recovery as people feel isolated from decision-making processes.
The business case
Engagement should be seen as an opportunity – not a duty. Good engagement makes good business sense.
Any business needs to be in tune with its customer base to succeed. In the public and voluntary sector, engaging communities and service users in the right way can lead to better business decisions and improved services. It may cost money, but can be a saving in the long term.
In the worst cases, failure to engage has had disastrous consequences.
The wider benefits
Good engagement builds social capital, the glue that holds communities together.
It enables people to be involved in decisions that affect them and take more responsibility for themselves and their communities. Communities that are not engaged in decision-making feel less resilient, empowered and sustainable.
Engagement – when it is done well - benefits us all: decision makers, service providers, communities and service users.
But since most authorities and infrastructure organisations put time and effort into engagement, why do things still go wrong?
We found the answer is in the type and quality of engagement – how it’s done, who is involved, and how the feedback is managed.
To turn subtitles on/off, click the Closed Captions button in the video toolbar once the video is playing.