Throughout the last year, community engagement has taken on a new meaning. It is no longer just about large/annual social activities, as it has been in the past for many communities. Instead, communities are trying to find unique and creative ways to engage their residents. In addition to regular and frequent communications like the monthly community updates we provide our clients, the following are some creative community engagement ideas, many of which are relatively inexpensive as well:
COMMUNITY YARD SALES – Many communities already hold annual or semi-annual community yard sales. Community yard sales are inexpensive (purchase some banners, possibly advertise in local newspapers, etc.) and can also be hosted in a socially distant and responsible manner.
- TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER – Consider involving the children of the community by publishing a fun treasure / photo hunt checklist (e.g., find a blue lamp, find a red bicycle, etc.). You might even offer prizes for those that find the most items. You may also consider setting up a coffee and donut station at your community park to thank those participating and make the yard sale feel more like a true community event.
LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES – If you have not heard about the Little Free Library program, we encourage you to visit https://littlefreelibrary.org/. Installing one more little free libraries in your community can be a great way to encourage sharing, reading, and general education. These are often a well-received addition to any community.
- TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER – Ask for capable community volunteers to build and/or install your little free library(ies). Please talk to your community association management partner, insurance provider, and legal counsel to understand the liabilities and risks associated with this before doing so.
PORCH PARTIES – Coordinate a community-wide porch party. Not sure what a porch party is? It is a socially distanced event in which neighbors grill and hang out on their porches, driveways, and front yards. It allows everyone in the community to participate from the comfort and safety of their own property, while still interacting with one another.
- TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER – Ask residents to register for the event. Purchase individually prepared/wrapped deserts such as cakes, pies, or ice cream cones and deliver them to those participating at the time of the event.
TURKEY TROTS – Many communities are wonderfully designed to accommodate a Turkey Trot (run, jog, walk) event. Choose a starting point (usually at a community park), create and publish one to two route options (a standard route of up to 3.5 miles, if possible, and shorter route of approximately 1 mile), and encourage residents to participate as desired during a specified window of time (e.g., 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM).
- TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER – Provide medals for the children in the community who complete the Turkey Trot and offer individually wrapped snacks/treats and bottles of water/Gatorade/juice for all participants. You may also consider making this a donation event and asking participants to drop off canned goods and non-perishable food items to be donated to a local food bank.
HOLIDAY DECORATING CONTESTS – An easy way to engage the community and promote safe fun, hope, and happiness is to hold a holiday decorating contest. Provide a judging date/time to ensure everyone wanting to participate will have their decorations up and turned on, specify the judging requirements/categories (are you looking for the best decorated homes overall or are their specific categories such as most wow factor, best design, etc.), and detail the prizes.
- TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER – Provide yard signs for the winners to display in their yards for the rest of the holiday season and showcase the winners in the next newsletter/monthly community update, on the Association’s Facebook page, or through the neighborhood Facebook Group.