CCSI’s was privileged to partner with The Greater Rochester Health Foundation (GRHF) and National Parent Leadership Institute (NPLI) on our most recent collaboration: the development of a “roadmap” for funders.  Recognizing that authentic community engagement and partnership are essential for sustained health and social impact, this document is meant as guidance outlining best practices for engaging the power of families and the community to improve the impact of philanthropy.  By working collaboratively with the community through building trust and creating meaningful opportunities for input, participation, and partnership, funders can better solve problems and improve community well-being.  While this takes much investment, there are considerable benefits for funders who listen to, learn from, and collaborate with the people and communities intended to benefit from the foundation’s efforts and support.  Funders can generate deeper insight, more effective strategies, and greater collective capacity to affect change.

The roadmap includes a set of recommended practices and guidelines, rather than formulaic instructions, for engagement.  At a high-level overview, with more comprehensive detail in the roadmap, the categories of recommendations include:

  • Organizational Culture – Opportunities for foundations to accelerate or enhance the organizational cultural shift that supports community engagement efforts.
  • Planning Authentic Engagement – Setting the stage for authentic community engagement through thoughtful preparation and planning.
  • Supporting Equitable Participation – Recruitment and engagement strategies that help with participation at community meetings/events and in grantmaking, where diversity is reflective of the community, and there is a high level of participation. 
  • Building Trust – Intentional action throughout the community engagement process to build trust.
  • Transparency and Feedback – Providing feedback or follow-up to participants in community engagement activities about the impact of their contribution.

Authentic and effective community engagement strategies can look different depending on the specific philanthropic organization, community context, historical implications, and issues, and require investment of resources. However, an organization that builds a culture demonstrating deep value of community engagement and relationship through implementation of robust practices that build trust and foster true collaboration, can see an increasing ability to effectively target their support for impact and positive change.

For more detailed recommendations, as well as family and community engagement resources, you can access the full report here.  To learn more about engaging families and the community, please contact Nancy Sung Shelton or Amy Scheel-Jones, Senior Consultants, Consulting Services, CCSI.