Boosting Community Engagement

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This guide offers a few tips about sources, subject headings, and strategies that you may want to start with. Note that these tips are just a start: think broadly about the sort of information you need and about who might have that information (government/association/academic/news/etc.).

Thoughts & tips

1. There are many terms for both "community engagement" and "communication plan." I've see this concept described as civic engagement, outreach, community consultation, public engagement, and community feedback in just my initial few searches, and terms such as "social marketing" and "market research strategy" can be used for aspects of communication plans. Be sure to try different terms to cover all possible angles. There may be minor variations in the meaning of each term, but information about any of them might prove to be useful in your case.

2. There are also many types of organisations who are trying to communicate and engage with their communities. I'm sure you'll find information about healthcare institutions, universities, and environmental advocacy organisations, for example. Their context and goals may be a bit different, but they may still have important lessons that you can apply to your case. Keep an open mind and watch for solutions that might work in your case's context.

3. For-profit businesses are also among the many organisations who try to engage with their communities. From a business perspective the concept of "customer engagement" (another search phrase!) is very important. Are the lessons learned by businesses relevant to a publicly-funded community centre?

4. A bit closer to the context of your case, you'll also find lots of resources about how cities can and do engage with their residents. The scale may be larger than that of your single community centre, but consider what you can learn from their approaches.

About Port Moody

  • Demographics for Port Moody's population?
  • Statistics Canada 2016 Census Profile for Port Moody. (The 2021 census data will start being released in 2022, starting with general population data in February -- watch for it!)
  • SimplyAnalytics for very detailed and current demographic data and spending estimates for neighbourhoods and cities throughout Canada.

About other local community centres

Almost every city has community centres, each of which is trying to develop communication plans and services that best match the needs of their neighbourhood's residents. Can you learn something from what they have done?

Here are links to a few community centres in the Metro Vancouver area to get you started, but consider exploring beyond our local area if you need more inspiration.

  • Also see Coquitlam's Have Your Say page for details on their community engagement efforts.
  • Port Coquitlam just opened a new community centre, although it's much bigger than the place in your case.
  • Also check out their Leisure Guide to get a sense of the programs offered in the city, and their Let's Talk PoCo page to learn about how the city seeks input from residents.
  • Consider looking specifically for any reports that assess or evaluate community centres, or that document any public consultation that was completed. You may be able to learn from the methodology used in such reports: the types of questions asked, the categorisation of the answers, and the ways that they contacted people. See, for instance, Appendix B (page 87) of this report from Seattle.

About communication plans & community engagement

Search the SFU Library catalogue for articles and books that address communication plans and social media marketing, esp. in the context of public services, nonprofits, and "causes."

Here are a couple publications that came up often in my initial searches:

If you choose to take a step back and look at the big picture of modern marketing communication plans, try some of the books from your initial catalogue search results on this topic. For instance...

Consider looking for the communication plans/strategies for other community centres, as well as similar sorts of organisations. Is there anything that you could use for your target organisation? Here's a rough Google search for recent strategies to get you started. Adjust that search with different keywords (e.g., substitute plans for strategies) to get additional examples.

From a business perspective the concept of "customer engagement" is very important. Are the lessons learned by businesses relevant to a publicly-funded community centre? It's your decision, but here are some resources to help you investigate this angle...

Try this rough search for ebooks/books to start, then explore adjust the search terms and/or try some of the subjects from your initial results in subsequent searches.

  • Sample ebooks from my initial searches:


A. Our LinkedIn Learning database provides instructional videos on an extremely wide range of topics, including communication plans and strategies, community engagement, and social media marketing.

B. Municipal World magazine is published in Canada and focused on the business of running cities and towns. I came across this article in it: Case for investing in civic engagement. Also try searching the same publication for social media.

<No further suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add any tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>