Community Engagement Strategy Guide

To better involve community leaders to achieve long-term and sustainable outcomes, processes, relationships, decision-making, and implementation of disaster response programs.

This strategy is the process of building relationships with Church leaders, stakeholders, citizens and interest groups to work side-by-side as long-term partners – building a coalition support on a range of disaster response in the community.  The end of community engagement is to assist and serve the people of the community in time of disaster.  


The approach to community engagement is guided by the following principles: 

  • Integrity: Community engagement should be transparent and clear in scope and purpose. 
  • Inclusiveness: Community engagement should be accessible and balanced and capture a full range of values and perspectives. 
  • Dialogue: Community engagement should promote dialogue and open genuine discussion. It should be supported by timely and accurate information, be used to weigh options, and develop common understandings. 
  • Influence: Community engagement should be reflected in outcomes. The community should be able to see and understand the impact of their involvement. 

Planning and Design

Thinking through the following questions and issues will assist in the planning and design of a community engagement plan: 

  • What is the need for community engagement? 
  • What resources are available? 
  • Who will be part of the decision-making process? 
  • What are the goals and objectives of the engagement? 

Steps to Community Engagement Strategy

Step 1: Determine the Need for Community Engagement
– Evaluate the current status of disaster response/relief in the community

– Determine gaps and areas that need to be addressed

– Church Readiness
1. Preparing churches for relief and recovery efforts
2. Train and maintain readiness
3. Building relationships with LRGs, NGOs, FEMA
4. Churches collaborate – shared community vision, maximize resources, coordinator efforts
Step 2: Develop a Coalition of Church Leaders – Advisory Group
Establish goals of the group:
– Group realistic roles and responsibilities
– Group timeframe and decision-making processes
– Establish whether the group is representing a broader group (i.e., community liaison) or participating as an individual.
Step 3: Define the Relief, Rebuild, and Recovery Scope
– Establish goals
– Anticipated outcomes
– Identify and/or prioritize what the needs and priorities for relief and recovery efforts should be.

A general spectrum of community engagement goals may include the following:
1. Increase awareness of issues, services, and opportunities
2. Increase the number of church volunteers in recovery efforts
3. Educate residents on issues and/or involve them in decision-making
4. Motivate a change in behavior
5. Empower communities to identify and address their own issues and opportunities
Step 4: Identify and Analyze Stakeholders/Community Served
Who are your community stakeholders?

A stakeholder is anyone who:
– Will be affected by the program or project
– Has knowledge related to the program or project
– Has some authority related to the program or project
– Has interested in the program or project

Potential stakeholders:
– Disaster resource organizations
– County/city health departments
– Neighborhood HOA Leaders
– Pubic safety – law enforcement/first responders
– Schools and Universities

More on the downloadable document below…
Step 5: Consider Engagement Techniques/Methods
Use various techniques to engage community and stakeholders; no single approach will engage every issue.

The technique should be:
– Inform
– Consult
– Active Involvement

Methods to inform the community;
– Public displays
– Community forums
– News articles/stories
– Website
– Social media
Step 6: Create and Implement an Implementation/Operational Plan
– Engage partners in existing community initiatives
– Determine recovery schedule with communication and public involvement timeframes
– Determine church involvement goals and anticipated outcomes
– Determine the geographic scope of outreach
– List of major opportunities for church participation or engagement
Step 7: Monitor Progress, Evaluate the Plan, and Modify
Was the activity successful?
– Report the achievements and progress of the program

Was have we learned?
– Examine the engagement process against objects and goals
– What can we do better?
– Explore ways to better meet objectives and goals

Download Guide

Updated on November 16, 2020

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