Thursday, 5 February 2015

Multi-Sector Engagement

By Paul Born, President, Tamarack,  An Institute for Community Engagement


A small regional museum reached out to their community to develop an exhibit and also a speaker series commemorating the year of the refugee. They engaged local agencies that supported refugees, business leaders who identified as coming to Canada as refugees, as well as politicians and bureaucrats. Most importantly, they engaged recent refugees to their community.

These individuals formed an advisory group of about 25 people. Together, they raised the money for the exhibit and gave input into the exhibit design. Many of them also donated their time and stories to the workshops held during the six month exhibit.

The exhibit was one of the most successful in the museum's history. Involving leaders from so many different sectors opened doors to promoting the event for the museum. Diverse voices provided amazing creativity in the creation of the exhibit, and building such a diverse network created an opportunity to build its credibility with constituencies they never had before, which resulted in increased donations.

Top five ideas to consider:

1.      Diversity encourages creativity. Diversity builds new relationships. Diversity opens doors to new possibilities. Allow for emergence in planning processes. Once members of your diverse team get to know each other's stories, they will become engaged and their contribution value will increase.

2.      Multi-sector teams are more open to discovery and story than single sector teams. Once a team is formed, give members time to tell their stories before moving into planning and tasking -- then wait for the miracle of engagement.

3.      To build a multi-sector team, we most often start with engaging the agencies serving the issue we want to address. In this case, the agencies servicing refugees could easily identify business and government leaders willing to help.

4.      Communication is critical in all engagement strategies. Build a data base of names from day one. Grow it by people joining the list during the exhibit. Create a communication piece (newsletter with update and stories) that is sent regularly and captures the excitement.

5.      When you build a multi-sector team, you need worry less about consultation. Once people know each other’s stories, they draw from each other’s stories to provide ideas.

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