If your organization is new to the process of engaging the community there are several things to take into consideration before you get started. It may mean changing the way your organization makes decisions about its programs and allocation of resources. It may also mean developing partnerships, coalitions, and collaborative efforts with new people and organizations.
Before action can occur, the organizational leaders need to consider and develop a management strategy. Everyone participating needs to be operating from the same level of understanding and from a similar framework. To make sure you are all working from a similar framework it will be helpful to assess your capacity.
An assessment of your organization's capacity for and approach toward engaging the community involves looking at the following components:
Your Organization's Values
- Does our organization perceive that it is important to involve the community in identifying community health issues and developing programs?
- Does it recognize that partnering and collaborating with other groups or community-based organizations are important?).
Your Organization's Intent
- What is the best way to establish its position and select strategies to being community action?
- Are authoritative approaches or cooperative approaches more appropriate?
Your Organization's Operations
- Is our organization already working with the community around specific programs or issues?
- Are there existing collaborations with other institutions or agencies?
- Are community leaders or representatives already involved in decision-making related to program planning, implementation, and evaluation?
Available Resources and Expertise
- What mechanisms will be in place to ensure that relevant data on community needs will be used?
- What financial resources will be required?
- Which staff are most skilled or already have strong ties to the community?
Adapted From: CDC/ATSDR Committee on Community Engagement. (1997). Principles of Community Engagement. Atlanta, GA, pp. 62-63.