Community engagement can be defined as the process by which community and people collectively build ongoing, permanent relationships for social benefits and outcomes.
People want to live in communities where they feel safe, welcomed and part of something. We all want to engage with our community, right? I believe the answer is yes, but I find a lot of people just don’t know where to start or what it looks like specifically for them. Giving back doesn't have to be a complicated process. In fact, it can be a great thing to do with your friends!
To get you started, here are five ways you can start engaging with your community:
- Use empathy. Empathy leads to helping behaviors that come from within. Simply put, when empathy is practiced people behave in a more compassionate manner. Being compassionate and empathetic to the needs of others is the first step to positively engaging with your community, building relationships and helping others.
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a fun way to give back to your community and develop valuable new skills. There are many short-term opportunities that can be up to an hour long or, if you are into more of a long-term commitment, there are opportunities that you can do all year round. From serving meals to building houses, there are always ways to engage with your community through volunteerism.
- Advocate. Many of our community’s issues include things that may not be out in the open. From mental health to youth homelessness, there are many people who are in need of advocates to fight for their needs.
- Serve on a board. Calling all accountants, lawyers, marketing professionals and more; non-profit organizations need your help! Your “everyday job” skill set could be a gem for a non-profit who relies on a Board of Directors for governance and talent-based volunteerism.
- Engage your tribe. Are you looking for something unique to do with your friends? Engage with the community together! There is power in numbers, and you and your tribe can join fundraising committees, do a volunteer activity together or just decide to do one good deed a day.
Community engagement is not only important to the community itself, but also to the mental health and satisfaction of your employees. Offering employees a chance to give back is good for the bottom line and can increase engagement. In fact, a study conducted by The Case Foundation found that "Millennials want to create a positive impact on their community and the world through their work." With Millennials making up roughly 50% of the US workforce in 2020 and 75% of the global workforce by 2030, it's important for employers to understand their workplace wants.
Community engagement is never “one-size-fits-all.” It’s all about creating an individual or family plan, being realistic with what you can and are able to do and acting. By creating a culture of community engagement, you can encourage employees to give back and get involved for higher workplace satisfaction.
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