As part of Engaging Matters’ 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting important and/or popular posts from the past. In reviewing such posts it became clear that many were grouped thematically. As a result, this Anniversary series will, for the most part, present the theme with links to relevant posts rather than simply re-posting individual items.
“Community engagement” has the power not only to enhance viability but also to aid nonprofit arts organizations in becoming truly indispensable. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding of effective community engagement stands in the way. One of the most significant contributions of this blog to community engagement work has been in providing definitions not only of community engagement but of related, essential, but substantially different work like audience development and audience engagement.
Here are the critical terms that need proper understanding and differentiation:
Activities undertaken by an arts organization as part of a marketing strategy designed to produce immediate results that benefit the organization: sales, donations, etc. Principal beneficiary of direct, intended outcomes: arts organization.
Activities undertaken by an arts organization as part of a marketing strategy designed to deepen relationships with current stakeholders. The purpose is, over time, to improve retention, increase frequency, and expand reach through stakeholder networks. Principal beneficiary of direct, intended outcomes: arts organization.
Activities undertaken by an arts organization as part of a mission strategy designed to build deep relationships between the organization and the communities in which it operates for the purpose of achieving mutual benefit. It is accomplished by developing trust and understanding through which reach can be expanded. This results, over the long term in increased ticket sales and financial support as well as more arts-friendly public policy. Principal beneficiary of direct, intended outcomes: community and arts organization.
and because it always comes up:
COMMUNITY[This definition is exclusively intended to apply to community engagement work] Any group of people with common interests or characteristics defined, for example, by place, tradition, intention, or spirit. (Based on a definition created by Alternate ROOTS) Or even simpler: A group of people with something in common.
These definitions, along with a number of “good practices” issues, are included in the resource Community Engagement: What You Need to Know
And here are a few of the posts introducing and addressing these definitions:
- What Is Engagement?
- Audience Development “vs.” Community Engagement
- New Thought on Audience and Community Engagement
- Engagement Vocabulary
- Engagement Vocabulary in Action
- Definitions, Again
- Engagement Terminology