Steps to Successful Collaboration with Community Partners
Before starting a community engagement effort:
- Be clear about the purposes or goals of the engagement effort and the populations and/or communities you want to engage.
- Become knowledgeable about the community. Learn about the community's perceptions of those initiating the engagement activities.
For engagement to occur, it is necessary to:
- Establish relationships with the formal and informal leaders in the community.
- Remember and accept that self-determination is the responsibility and right of all the people in a community. No external entity should assume it can bestow on a community the power to act in its own self-interest.
For engagement to succeed:
- Partnering with the community is necessary to create change and improve well-being.
- All aspects of community engagement must recognize and respect the diversity in the community.
- Community engagement can only be sustained by identifying and mobilizing community assets and strengths and by developing the community's capacity and resources to make decisions and take action.
- Organizations that wish to engage a community as well as individuals seeking to effect change must be prepared to release control of actions or interventions to the community and be flexible enough to meets its changing needs.
- Community collaboration requires long-term commitment by the engaging organization and its partners.
(Adapted from the ATSDR)