Three people loading up boxes with non-perishable foods at a food drive.

Community is at the heart of every nonprofit event. From volunteers to donors and sponsors, these are the people that help to support your cause and make your event possible. As a nonprofit event producer, you play a vital role in bringing people together to support a common cause. Naturally, this comes with the important responsibility of cultivating community engagement. Let's explore some of the most valuable community engagement ideas for nonprofits that can help you create more impactful events. 

Why Community Engagement?

Community engagement can be defined as "...a strategic approach to the relationships, communication and interactions between community members and an organization to try to influence outcomes for both." Nonprofit events thrive on the power of the community where they are based. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize your community as they are a key base of volunteers, donors, and so on for your event. Actively participating in community engagement efforts comes with several benefits. Not only does it increase awareness of your event, but also puts you on a path to be a respected part of the community. When people feel they are part of something special, they are more likely to stick around and encourage their loved ones to join in. This is particularly helpful in recruiting people to be part of your event.

How to Engage Your Community

1. Do Your Research

Any good nonprofit community engagement plan starts with doing research. Understand how your community’s motivations and challenges affect their likelihood of attending your event. How can you use this information to further craft a message that will resonate with them? Investing in strategies that play into their motivations or help solve their challenges can encourage members of your community to attend your event. Get out there and start speaking to people where your event is based to understand their perspective. 


A close-up of peoples hands while they are cleaning up trash and volunteering. (1)

2. Craft Your Nonprofit Message

Now with your research complete, it’s time to craft the message you will use to encourage members of your community to be part of your nonprofit event. As a general guideline, you’ll want to include information about your cause and the benefits of participating in your event. Then, incorporate details specific to your community, as discussed above, that will make them resonate with your event. Consider adding in personal anecdotes and testimonials, as these can be powerful persuasive tools for showing your nonprofit event’s impact. Remember, providing community members with the why behind your event and not just how is far more impactful. 

3. Diversify Your Outreach

To get a well-rounded grasp on your community, every person matters. To reach a diverse audience in your community, it’s important to try out different methods of outreach. Resorting only to email, or only to phone calls, and so on, to contact people may inadvertently exclude significant portions of your community. By taking your outreach to multiple platforms, you cast a wider net, ensuring your message gets across to all corners of your community and likely boosting your attendance. 


Three people volunteering at a food drive. (1)

4. Ensure Your Events Are Inclusive to All

An inclusive approach to events fosters a sense of belonging and encourages a diverse range of attendees. Consider factors such as venue accessibility, language barriers, and accommodation for people with disabilities. Making your event accessible will further welcome more members of your community who can contribute to your cause and make your events better for the future.

5. Leverage Local Partnerships

Connecting with other nonprofits, local businesses, community organizations, or corporations is an underrated method of community engagement. Partnerships can help you tap into a wider network of potential supporters, obtain increased funding, and more. When you collaborate with reputable partners who already have an established presence in the community, this in turn can give a boost to your own event’s credibility and trustworthiness. 


A close-up of a woman smiling and writing on a clipboard while volunteering. (1)

6. Incorporate Interactive Elements

Instead of just inviting your community to attend your event, actively involve them in the conversation around your cause. Incorporating interactive elements into your event like workshops, discussions, and hands-on activities are all great options that can make attendees feel more involved and connected to your cause. Adding these into your event also provides attendees with a more culminating experience that promotes learning and networking with fellow community members.

7. Be Consistent and Get Involved Locally

Creating a long-term, sustainable nonprofit community engagement plan is not a one-and-done deal. Make sure that your efforts are consistent and come from a place of genuine care about those in the community around you. Additional ways to get involved include attending local events outside of your own, volunteering at other nonprofits, and participating in other social activities. These can help give you a good sense of the community and will also expose you to new ideas and perspectives that can help you improve your nonprofit event.


The bottom line is simple: people like supporting events from organizations that they know, trust, and respect. Engaging with your local community is the perfect way to build those relationships and organically get people behind your cause and involved with your nonprofit event. While you’re planning your event, set up a demo with Passage today to see how we can help you reach more supporters.

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