Establishing a community reference group is a great way to encourage extra involvement from your community and allows you to have a dedicated group of people to engage with on a range of issues.
A community reference group is generally made up of registered participants who have indicated they want more involvement in shaping decisions and helping your organization with its engagement activities.
Usually, these groups are established to be representative samples of your community to ensure that a variety of voices are being heard. They can range in size from 50 - 500 people and will include people from different age groups, suburbs, gender, and other established strata of your choosing.
These groups are usually tasked with special responsibilities over a period of time.
This activity might include;
Regular monthly surveys
Attendance at workshops and meetings
Volunteering at engagement events
Online deliberation as part of major projects
In order to set up a reference group in EngagementHQ we recommend you follow the below steps.
Capturing interest via your signup form
Since involvement in your reference group will be voluntary, you need a mechanism to capture this interest. The easiest way to do this is to include a dedicated question on your registration form. Simply use a radio button question on your signup form to capture interest and use a section question type to explain to your community what your community panel will do.
For more information on setting up your registration form, read through our article on developing a registration form.
Establishing your panel
By asking everyone that joins your site if they would be interested in joining your community panel or reference group, you will quickly be able to see this list of people using your Participants page.
Simply select the Signup Form dropdown menu and choose the appropriate question.
Once you have filtered your list to show all of the people who indicated they would like to be a part of your group, you can then use other demographic filters such as age, suburb and gender to start to compile your group.
In order to do this, run your queries according to your identified strata (representative identifiers) and simply use the bulk tag feature to start to tag your participants.
These tags might be related to the demographic profile so they could be "Gender-Age-Suburb".
You can then create a group made up of the right mix of participants that you require for you community panel.
What about running an expression of interest?
We recommend that you run an expression of interest campaign if you are going to setup a community panel. However, we suggest that you utilise your registration form to capture interest instead of setting up a seperate form for people to fill out for this purpose.
This is because your registration form talks directly to your participant database making it easy for you to filter through interested participants. It also saves you the hassle of having to download and upload a list of interested participants and makes it a much simpler process for your community.
What if I have registered participants who want to change their mind?
The easiest way for participants to change their interest in being involved in your community panel is to simply update their user profiles.
To do this, simply direct your participants to click their profile icon in the upper-right corner of the page header and then click "Edit Profile" as shown below.
Using your registration form is the best way to capture interest in your community panel and setting this up prior to launching your site is the easiest way to embed the process from the beginning.
Contact our support team if you need any further assistance via chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org