Community Forum

                                                       

  The Bridge Consulting Group, LLC

 

Change agents … helping you get where you want to be

 

Community Forum

Community – A group of people who are considered a unit

                                                      because of their shared interests.”

 

The concept

The community forum is designed by The Bridge Consulting Group to benefit members of the community as well as the nor-for-profit organization.  The concept is designed to elevate community awareness about the organization and ideally to increase involvement with the organization. The community forum is designed to be a win-win for all those involved. It helps both the community and organization become aware of what the organization’s mission is and what the organization can accomplish through its programs.  It will also assist with the needed support to run effective programs for the people served.

The Forum will provide a partnership between the organization and the community and help provide resources for the organization to fulfill their goals as well as the organizations goals.

What are the benefits of a “Community Forum Project?”

The community forum will benefit members of the community as well as the organization.  It is a process of getting people, businesses and leaders in the community involved in a project that is of specific interest to them.  It helps both the community and organization become aware of what the mission is and what the organization can accomplish through its programs.  It will also assist with the needed support to run effective programs for the people served.

  • Engage Board members in an activity that promotes their area of interest and involvement
  • Prepare the organization and create awareness in the community
  • Develop an effective case for support
  • Take the organization into the community, educate them and find funders for current and future projects
  • Train staff and volunteers
  • Put out media information
  • Develop the board structure with committee job descriptions and expectations
  • Have the plan in place with amount needed for all current and future projects
  • Review of donor information to see who can help with major gifts

The Process of setting up a Community Forum

First there must be careful attention paid to:

  • Careful Planning
  • Financing
  • Promotion
  • Involvement –Pre and Post

Some of that planning will include:

  • Establish participants of the planning group
  • Set date, time and facility
  • Decide on the overall goal
  • Develop a concept paper
  • Develop a timeline
  • Create a budget
  • Recruit sponsors

Establish the Planning Group

Recruit members for the planning group who:

  • Compose a cross-section of the community—more resources, broader reach and impact
  • Can generate creative ideas toward accomplishing your goal
  • Will influence ownership among key constituencies
  • Have the ability to turn ideas into concrete actions
  • Possess knowledge and skills to bring about change

Decide on the Overall Goal

  • What is the overall he goal of the community forum?
  • What do we want to change?
  • Who will benefit from the forum?
  • What do we want the forum to accomplish?
  • Is it to call public attention to an issue or program?
  • Is it to grow or improve the organizations awareness in the community?
  • Is it to learn about concrete approaches in other cities/locations?

Activity Goal – first year – Plan and implement 1 community forum

An excellent goal for the first year might be targeted at the recruitment of younger members to review the possibility of developing younger members. We are aware of a Junior Advisory Board program similar to the one in Chicago. This program could feature men and women with responsibilities as parents and those with professional careers [sometimes both]. The goal is to involve their families in volunteer activities so that their children will understand the American phenomenon of philanthropy. The benefit to the Army is increased “hands on deck” for community programs, along with an outreach to the next generations as future leaders and donors.

Set Time, Date & Facility

  • Set in place early during the planning stages
  • Consider your audience, time of day, time of year,
  • Research types of facilities to meet:
    • Convention centers
    • University campus and schools
    • Hotel banquet rooms
    • Non-profit meeting rooms
    • Places of worship
    • Special public facilities, i.e. museums, zoos

 The Nuts and Bolts of the Forum Event

  • Provide simple handouts
  • Structure group discussions
  • Use the buddy system
  • Give the opportunity for action groups
  • Obtain sponsor commitments

Methods for Evaluation after the event

  • Purpose: Did the forum achieve the established goal?
  • Use written “feedback” forms
  • Schedule follow-up interviews
  • Distribute pre and post forum surveys
  • Debrief

Next steps

There is much more involved with ensuring a successful Community Forum project.  For more information about and/or support in setting up your first Community Forum, contact Ron Waite at 888.958.0425 X102 or ron@thebridge.pro.

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