Consulting the Community
How community consultation helps you
- contribute to community understanding and awareness of the project
- assist in sourcing the range of skills required to develop and maintain the website
- encourage community members to contribute their time and expertise.
You may already have people you know who would be interested in your community website, however it is important to have a community consultation process to ensure that everyone who is interested has an opportunity to contribute.
Even so, there is no reason why you cannot target specific groups within the community as well as the general public. Your list might include:
- Local council
- Potential stakeholders and business partners:
- Chamber of Commerce or Traders Association
- Local businesses
- Local leaders and groups:
- Sports and recreation clubs
- Service clubs (Rotary, Lions Club, etc.)
- Arts/cultural groups
- Technology or PC users groups
- Other special interest groups
- Community services:
- Tourism office
- Educational institutions (schools, universities, TAFE and CAE colleges, etc)
- Health services
It is highly advisable to contact your local council, as they are often an excellent source of information and can play a special role as active and representative members of the local community.
The local council also has a vested interest in promoting the local area. Councils can be encouraged to get involved in the development of this local public asset through membership of the community website group.
They may also be willing to offer meeting venues at reduced rates or at no charge, and even provide website or information technology skills.
It is important to identify local stakeholders and possible business partners.
Stakeholders are those people who, while they may not contribute to the website directly, have an interest in a community website. They can also act as representatives of a segment of the community with an interest in the outcome.
A stakeholder might be someone not involved in the development phase, but can see the potential of an operational site. They could be a small business owner who doesn’t have the time to contribute now, but is interested in progress reports.
The local tourism office may be involved in promoting a wider region, while still being interested in events and activities in the community.
Stakeholders can often contribute ideas and help connect different groups to assist with the long-term success of the website.
Business partners are local business owners and managers who may be able to assist with seed funding or ongoing contributions, either as donations or by pledging advertising or sponsorship support. Business partners may include local solicitors or accountants who are willing to provide legal or financial advice to assist the website group.
Local common interest groups such as sporting clubs, historical societies, arts or cultural groups or traders associations often have people who have experience in managing committees, or are skilled in influencing people. You can approach these people directly about a community website, or enlist their help in running a public meeting.
Your website is an ideal vehicle for providing information about local services including health and education services, as well as tourism information.
Educational institutions are often able to harness a variety of skills, particularly from younger members of the community.
Details of health services available in the community will be helpful for many website users, while your local tourism office can be an invaluable source of information regarding upcoming activities and local area information. They may be able to assist in both sourcing and updating this content to ensure it is always relevant.
Other interested members of the community
In addition to targeting specific groups, you should also provide other members of your local community with a chance to become involved. By informing the public of the work you are doing and providing contact details for the website group, you can invite contributions from people who otherwise might not know about the project.
The method of consultation will depend on a range of factors, including:
- The size of your community
- The resources available
- Who you are consulting
Where you have already identified potential contributors, you can usually contact them directly through a telephone call or email, followed up with a meeting. When contacting your local council, try writing to the the General Manager or the Mayor first to arrange a meeting and explain the project. They will be able to nominate the most appropriate person to represent their interest on a continuing basis.
Use your local telephone directory or local council website to identify and contact business, stakeholders and common interest groups in your region.
When approaching possible business partners, you will need to convey the benefits the website can provide to their business, such as increased exposure, potential feedback from the local community and advertising opportunities to reach new markets.
See the templates at the bottom of this screen that maybe of use when presenting to possible partners/stakeholders in your community.
A good way to gauge broad community interest and to find people eager to contribute their time and skills is to hold a public meeting. You will need to find a suitable venue, someone to run the meeting and someone to give a presentation. The following powerpoint presentations can be adapted and used to help promote this initiative to your community:
The goal of your public meeting will be to obtain a list of volunteers with a range of skills willing to contribute to developing and managing the website.
The meeting should be promoted locally, giving people sufficient notice of the date, time and place that it will be held. This can be done by:
- advertising in local media
- providing a media release to local media outlets
- writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper
- displaying notices on community bulletin boards
- handing out information flyers or delivering them to letterboxes.
An alternative to holding a public meeting is to hold smaller forums with specific interest groups. For example, there may be a peak body for seniors groups, sport and recreation clubs or for services and activities aimed at young people.
Smaller meetings will enable you to engage more fully with the audience and clearly identify issues relevant to the particular group.
It is a good idea to have an attendance sheet at the meeting so people can provide their name, address and contact details, along with the type of contribution they are willing to make.
Some people may be willing to donate their time, some may be able to make a financial contribution, while others may have experience in developing websites or writing business plans.
Other consultation methods
Many of the methods used for advertising your public meeting can also be used to inform the community of the project and provide a telephone number or email for people wishing to become involved.
These additional methods of informing the community about the community website and inviting participation might include:
- an advertisement in the local newspaper
- a notice or article in an existing community newsletter or bulletin board
- a display in the local shopping centre
- an information flyer drop in letterboxes.
Here are some sample templates for use in your community consultation which you maybe of use in the promotion of the CGDN initiative:
CGDN Public Presentation (Powerpoint 10,352KB)
Attendance Sheet (Word document, 125 KB)
Expression of Interest (Word document, 57 KB)
Media Release (Word document 49KB)
Public Meeting Flyer (Word document, 40 KB)
Public Meeting Advertisement (Word document, 25 KB)
Public Meeting Presentation (Powerpoint, 72KB)
Stakeholder Letter (Word document, 48KB)