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Measuring the State of Engagement

August 27, 2020

Engagement matters. Strong, consistent connections between residents, robust relationships between people and public institutions, and positive attachments between citizens and the places they live are highly correlated with a range of positive outcomes, from increased public health to greater K-12 student success to resilience in the face of natural disasters. How can we strengthen engagement in a community? Many organizations, including governments, other institutions, civic associations, and grassroots groups, spend a great deal of time and energy trying to engage residents successfully. These efforts are hindered by the fact that it is hard to get a read on the state of public engagement—particularly from residents themselves. Do community members feel informed? Connected? Do they have a meaningful say in the decisions that affect them? When they volunteer in their communities, are those efforts supported and honored? 

To improve public engagement, local leaders and community organizations need measurement tools that allow people to rate their experiences. We know this challenge all too well and see it in the communities in which we work. To address this need we created the Civic Engagement Scorecard. Similar to other rating tools such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and RateMyProfessor, the Scorecard lets the public provide input about different kinds of meetings, processes, town halls, festivals, and online activities. It also allows users to provide feedback about their community’s strengths and areas for improvement overall. 

The Civic Engagement Scorecard is free for community members to use. It is easily accessible via smartphone, computer or tablet. The data gathered from the Scorecard can help local officials, nonprofits, community foundations and other leaders better understand how the public feels about specific engagement activities and their community as a whole. The Scorecard can also be a vital tool for building civic infrastructure by helping to identify the programs and activities that people value–as well as the ones that residents find frustrating and unhelpful.  

Measuring and improving engagement is important now more than ever to ensure that institutions are accountable to the wants and needs of their residents. The information gathered from the Scorecard can show how informed, connected, respected, and supported people feel in a way that emphasizes the value of engagement as a community-wide, cross-institutional priority. The lessons learned from utilizing the Scorecard can be leveraged to build more productive and sustainable frameworks for engagement, which will hopefully lead to institutional changes that improve people’s daily lives. 

Test out the Scorecard demo here.

View a demo report here. 

Public Agenda can customize the Civic Engagement Scorecard for a number of public engagement purposes. Contact pedept@publicagenda.org to learn more!

Author

Matt Leighninger

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