community volunteers

Community: Building Stronger Connections

There is so much conversation around community building that you can easily get side-tracked in doing the small things that matter. Community building is as much in the details as the larger message of events or the specific impact an organization may be trying to deliver.

It is in ensuring that you work with stakeholders to deliver the right message. The necessity of finding partners who understand the nuances of what is needed and what is extraneous. It is about spending money on the necessary details, such as finding vendors who can deliver the appropriate equipment for material handling and storage, such as Lakeside Manufacturing. The need to avoid spending a limited budget on items that only look good but do not deliver quantifiable value.

Every action that you take in community-building is about connecting with the people who form that community. You need to know how to make individuals feel valued and seen for their contributions so that they will work cohesively for the greater good of the community.

Take the Time to Say Thank You

A quick thank you note sent via email takes little time on your part but has a big impact on the feelings of the people who receive it. Thanks to everyone, from vendors and partners to participants.

In addition to individual emails, make a big thank you post on social media as well. This will allow it to reach a wider audience, and people will appreciate seeing that their efforts were valued.

Be Open to Discussion

The health and sustainability of your community outreach efforts rely on open and honest communication between all stakeholders. Be open to receiving suggestions and criticism as well as answering questions. Your ability to reach people through conversation and provide an active listening ear will lead to better and more effective growth.

Accept Criticism

You cannot be aware of every dissenting opinion and reason not to do something or the necessity for doing something a certain way. There will always be an aggrieved party. Being open to receiving criticism allows you to discern between genuine areas where you could do better and people whose complaints are not relevant.

Being able to listen, analyze, and reply to dissenting opinions and constructive criticism will allow you to be the better player in your community. It gives you a more nuanced understanding of the people who are most affected by your community-building efforts. This will allow you to plan better community service activities and events to truly benefit the people who need it most.

community building

Use the Internet

Everyone is online now, and it is the fastest way to get information out there. Make liberal use of social media and chat apps to organize events, groups, and task forces. It is a resource like any other and a wonderful way to engage people without the risks of bringing them together that are very evident in the current pandemic-ridden world.

Creating online spaces for your community allows you to help everyone stay connected and respond in near-real-time to questions, queries, and please for help by any disadvantaged people. It is also a great way to send out information about your community-building efforts and request aid or make arrangements for donations to soup kitchens and shelters in the area.

Stay Calm Online

This can be very difficult to do if you are emotionally invested in the activities which you do for your community. There are people online who do not know you, are not a part of your community and enjoy enraging others for the pleasure of exploiting their sensitivities.

Learn to recognize these people from others who are genuinely interested in learning about your events and services. Avoid getting into online arguments as this merely validates the person trying to get an emotional outburst from you. It will also make you seem unprofessional to others. Make liberal use of the blocking functions and keep your online spaces safe for your community as you would make your physical spaces.

Stay focused on the outcome of your efforts, and you will surely see wonderful results. It can be easy to get sidetracked when working with people, especially if you are in a community with many people who need aid. The necessity of the work you do requires being able to step out of the emotional pull to facilitate real solutions.

Look to the successful campaigns of other communities but do not copy them wholesale. Plagiarism carries a stigma that is difficult to move beyond. There is no harm in reaching out to successful community-builders and requesting mentoring.

Humility is wonderful, but if you need to ask for help, you must make an effort to do it because it is not about you. It is about the people you can help by putting pride aside and admitting that the community needs everyone to work together to succeed.

Every community is still a part of a larger whole, and bringing people together can only add value and utility to your individual efforts.

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