5 Fun and Interactive Community Engagement Examples to Boost Participation
- Laura Trappett
- June 19, 2023
- 7 minute read
Community engagement doesn’t have to be the same-same, basic and formal experience. In fact, incorporating interactive and enjoyable activities into your community engagement efforts can transform them into something truly memorable. Here are 5 fun examples of community engagement that will boost participation and invite interaction from your audience.
Infusing ‘fun’ into your community engagement can foster trust and open communication. It allows your community to connect with you differently and build an exciting, collaborative experience that isn’t hinged on feedback alone.
You can also create a more inclusive and vibrant community with fun, gamified activities. This, in turn, allows for more positive collaborations, shared decision-making, and a sense of ownership within your community. As a result, your entire community engagement process can become more enjoyable and memorable.
Here’s our round-up of 5 fun community engagement examples to draw some inspiration from:
- Community Competitions
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Future of Open Spaces
- Wildlife Management
- Crossing the Digital Divide
1. Community Competitions
Gladstone Regional Council orchestrated an exciting community competition as part of their Easter in Gladstone 2023 Photography Competition. The main goal of this captivating initiative was to involve residents, visitors, and community hobbyists in capturing local photos that showcased the Gladstone region from their unique perspective.
Photographers of all skill levels were enthusiastically encouraged to participate in this competition and contribute their entries via a Gather tool. The community played a crucial role in determining the most popular photo by ‘Liking’ their favorite.
Council even incentivized the competition for winners with a $250 voucher, a certificate signed by the local Mayor, and even the opportunity to have their photo showcased on a billboard.
This project proved to be a resounding success, with 190 fantastic entries received and more than 9000 votes from the community.
2. Supporting Local Businesses
In light of COVID-19, the City of Canada Bay implemented a campaign known as ‘Love Local‘. The primary objective of this project was to offer support to local businesses in the area of Canada Bay by enabling them to register their address and company information to be featured on a Social Map.
The interactive nature of the Love Local SocialMap aimed to assist the 90,000 residents of Canada Bay in easily locating and actively supporting local businesses during challenging circumstances. By providing a centralized and easily accessible online resource, the campaign played a crucial role in fostering community engagement and reinforcing the resilience of the local economy.
The Love Local still receives contributions from local businesses 3 years later!
3. Future of Open Spaces
Merri-bek City Council has developed an inspiring project aimed to empower the community in shaping the future of their Open Space Strategy. For this project, the Council wants to hear directly from the people who use the spaces and places around Merri-bek to make sure the city remains liveable, green, and sustainable for generations to come.
By recognizing the importance of gathering input directly from their targeted community through online conversations, Merri-bek aims to receive feedback from the people who use and appreciate these spaces and places to help shape the future.
So far, Council have taken advantage of using a multitude of tools to help create a highly engaging and interactive experience that provides helpful information to guide their community to contribute.
The Council also plans to venture into various local areas by organizing a series of pop-up sessions and in-person workshops. These in-person events are all about bringing the Council staff directly to the community to spark meaningful conversations and gather further valuable insights.
Interestingly, Merri-bek City Council has also pledged to engage community members at the level of ‘involve’. This level of transparency with the community on what level of impact they have on the Open Space Strategy is incredible to see.
“For this project we will be engaging our community at the level of ‘Involve’ on the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum.
This means we will work to ensure the community’s concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the strategy and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.”
4. Wildlife Management
Have you spotted a macropod lately? The Sunshine Coast Council came up with a cool fun project to create a plan in supporting the population of kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons in their Draft Macropod Conservation Plan.
The Sunshine Coast is home to a beautiful array of native wildlife and the Council recognizes that wildlife management is a shared responsibility across multiple land tenures. Because of this, this project really highlights the importance of partnerships with all stakeholders across the Sunshine Coast to contribute to this plan.
So, to gather some valuable data and input from their community, the Council conducted a fantastic survey using the Form tool to help identify priority actions for the next three years.
Alongside their survey, Council also released a Social Map to encourage the community to identify where macropods live across the Sunshine Coast.
This project is a great example of balancing essential community feedback with a variety of interactive elements that spark further interest and intrigue to encourage participation. By providing an opportunity for the community to voice their thoughts, the Council aims to foster a sense of shared responsibility and solidify the long-term well-being of macropods.
5. Crossing the Digital Divide
The City of Calgary created their Digital Equity Strategy to explore and prioritize solutions to reduce the growing digital divide within Calgary’s communities.
The City wants to make concerted efforts so that Calgarians have the necessary technology access, tools, and skills to work, study, and connect online. The initiative builds upon the existing work on Smart Cities and Resiliency, focusing on closing the divide and strengthening the community’s social and economic fabric.
The Digital Equity Strategy goes beyond identifying challenges; it’s about taking action. From their collaborative brainstorming sessions with the community, the City of Calgary required community input to prioritize 17 actions.
Using the Fund It tool, the City provided the community with 20 points to virtually “fund” their top priorities. With most actions requiring anywhere between 1-5 points to fund, Calgarians were forced to make a trade-off and prioritize the initiatives most important to them.
This interactive process empowered the community to actively shape the Digital Equity Strategy to make Calgary more digitally inclusive, so that everyone can thrive in their living, working, playing, and personal growth experiences.
How to Create Fun and Interactive Community Engagement Projects?
As a community engagement practitioner, you hold the key to creating fun, interactive, enjoyable, and memorable experiences for community members. The one rule here is to actually try and break the rules of your usual, standard engagement template.
You need to try and break the norm of what your community expects and create an experience that encourages participation.
What tool have you never used before? Could you use images or icons to relay text better? Is there a fun project you could test?
When you break down the barrier of formal participation, you can also create a friendly collaborative space to foster trust, open communication, and mutual understanding with your community.
This lays the foundation for shared decision-making and a greater sense of ownership and camaraderie among community members, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and vibrant community.