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Assessing Your Public Engagement Activities

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Learn how to measure the effectiveness of your public engagement efforts.


Measuring the Success of Local Public Engagement

You’ve devoted time, money and staff energy to a public involvement effort about an important plan, issue or policy. But did the process make any difference? Did the local agency benefit? Were the participants satisfied with their experience? What worked and what didn’t? And what lessons will your city or county take from this experience into future civic participation activities? This tip sheet originally appeared as an article in the December 2008 issue of Western City magazine.


Assessing Public Engagement Effectiveness: Rapid Review Worksheets

Local officials are increasingly using a wide range of public engagement strategies to help them inform, consult with and deliberatively engage residents on topics such as land use, budgeting, housing, sustainability, health and environment, public safety and much more.

While there is a growing body of literature and experience about how to engage the public, there are few practical tools to gauge the success of these approaches. Recognizing that local officials and staff have limited time and resources, the Institute for Local Government has created these online Rapid Review Worksheets to help local governments assess how well their public engagement processes worked.


Public Engagement Evaluation Resources

In addition to the Institute for Local Government, there are many other sites to find information about public engagement evaluation although there do not seem to be many ready-to-use materials available.

  • The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation Resource Center
    The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) actively promotes learning and collaboration among practitioners, public leaders, scholars and organizations involved in dialogue, deliberation, and other innovative group processes. Using the search words “evaluation” and “assessment” when searching in the NCDD Resource Center will help to locate many articles and other resources on the topic of public engagement evaluation.
  • International City/County Management Association The International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) capstone team was asked to evaluate the citizen engagement programs for the city of Montgomery, Ohio.  ICMA has prepared a report, Measuring Community Engagement, which offers a guide to define success, measure efforts and share stories.  This report describes in details the measurers developed by the city’s citizens’ academy and volunteer program and explores how a community can determine the outcomes of all its engagement efforts, specifically:
  • The most common civic engagement activities;
  • Six factors that ultimately determine successful engagement;
  • How to clearly articulate program goals and objectives;
  • How to evaluate success using national and local indicators;
  • How to choose the right kind of measurement to match your goals; and
  • Plus, sample surveys, a review of data collection tools, an index of engagement activities, and program resource list.

This publication can be purchased and downloaded in full at http://bookstore.icma.org/product1.cfm?Product_ID=2192

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