During times of crises, communities affected by challenges require support and engagement to facilitate their recovery. Meaningful engagement with these communities is crucial for understanding their needs, building trust, and delivering effective assistance. We at Upinion, a social enterprise that has developed a digital engagement platform, have amassed valuable experience in this field. In this blog post, we will explore 10 essential DO’s and DON’Ts for digitally engaging with communities affected by crises, drawing insights from Upinion’s work.
1. DO: Connect with Heart, Not just Words
Approach affected communities with a personal touch, similar to how one interacts with loved ones, fostering a sense of familiarity and trust.
2. DO: Privacy Matters: Safeguard their Trust
Prioritise data privacy and security, assuring community members that their information will be protected and not misused.
3. DON’T: Just Take.
Create a reciprocal relationship by providing value to the community, whether it’s by exchanging insights, meaningful resources for support, or future opportunities.
4. DO: Communicate Clear and Actionable Information
Communicate essential information about available resources, services, and opportunities in a clear and actionable manner, ensuring community members can easily understand, and act upon the information provided. Use culturally appropriate communication to ensure that vital information reaches all members of the community.
5. DO: Discuss Impact Stories
Highlight direct and indirect impact of community engagement efforts, showcasing how their input and participation potentially have made a difference in shaping policy and program decision-making.
6. DO: Trust is Key: Be Transparent, Accountable, and Realistic
Build trust by demonstrating sincerity, empathy, and cultural sensitivity in interactions. Uphold transparency, maintain consistent communication, and be accountable for your actions, fostering credibility. Be transparent about the scope and limitations of your engagement, managing community expectations through honest and open communication.
7. DON’T Neglect Feedback: Listen & Learn
Establish mechanisms for soliciting feedback from the community, and value their opinions. Regularly evaluate engagement strategies and adapt them based on the feedback received, ensuring efforts remain responsive and relevant.
8. DO: Speak Their Language: Keep it Accessible
Avoid using excessive jargon that may alienate or confuse community members. Communicate in accessible language that is relatable and unambiguous.
9. DO: Co-create and Do it together
Be cautious of imposing your company or NGO’s own ideas and values on the people you engage with. Encourage a culture of co-creation by actively listening to the voices of those you engage with, respecting their unique insights, and leveraging their expertise in shaping outcomes.
10. DO: Make Engaging Fun!
Incorporate elements of fun into the process to make it enjoyable and engaging for community members, fostering active participation and long-term commitment.
Engaging with communities affected by crises requires an inclusive and contextually appropriate approach. By following these 10 Do’s and Don’ts based on Upinion’s experiences, meaningful relationships can be established, trust can be built, and recovery and resilience of crisis-affected communities can be addressed in sustainable ways. Remember that each community is unique, and ongoing learning and adaptation are essential to ensuring your engagement efforts are impactful.