Intensify community engagement in grant-funded projects

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If your grant proposal boasts deep community involvement in decision-making and service delivery, make sure the proposal’s project description, timeline, and budget support this statement. Did the community help define the problem and design the service approach? Will there be a community advisory board? Will community members be hired to do the work?

“There is a wide range of commitments, so think about what will work best to achieve the desired results,” said Barbara Floersch, grants expert and author of the new book. Got a Hammer: Building Social Change Grant Proposals. “If your organization does not partner vigorously with the community, it is time to challenge this status quo. ”

Paul Schmitz, CEO of Leading Inside Out, in 2017 adapted the International Association for Public Participation Spectrum of community engagement for inclusion in the Collective Impact Forum Community engagement toolkit. The spectrum ranges from strategies that simply keep people informed, to strategies that empower community members to take ownership of the work. When examining where your program approach will fit on the spectrum, Schmitz urges full transparency, warning that the greatest tensions and conflicts occur when leaders promise enabling engagement but fail to deliver on that promise. “To use engaging engagement strategies, your organization will need to relinquish some degree of power and control. Said Floersch.

Here’s a quick look at the spectrum of community engagement:

Lowest Level Strategy: Inform – Provide program information, keep people up to date, provide fact sheets, newsletters, websites and open houses.

Second level strategy: Consulting – Invite comments on decisions, keep people informed, listen to comments, conduct surveys, focus groups and community meetings.

Third level strategy: involve – Ensure that community concerns are taken into account in all planning and decision-making, using community strengths, ensuring that feedback influences decisions, working together to put implementing solutions, organizing the community and developing leadership.

Fourth level: Collaborate –Allow the community to participate in all planning and decision-making, involve community members in producing results, co-create solutions with community members, respond as much as possible to advice and recommendations , set up community advisory boards, provide board seats, fund community work.

Highest level: Empowerment – Professionals serve as consultants and support and empower community members with full decision-making power. The community leads the implementation and governance of the program.

Strong grant proposals present a realistic and transparent picture of how the community has been involved in program planning and will be involved in implementation. “You may not be ready to immediately move to the higher level engagement strategy, or you may decide that the issue you are addressing does not lend itself to this approach, but lean as far as possible. towards empowerment, ”said Floersch. “Without deep community engagement, it’s difficult to bring about lasting change.


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