Building relationships with the community is a crucial component of a strong local chapter.
So how do we build community relationships? Local chapters do this in a variety of ways such as:
- Hosting/Participating in Community Forums
- Sponsoring community projects
- Being part of a local coalition(s)
There is no one way to establish community relationships. Each chapter’s community engagement team must assess itself and determine what it should do.
A team should identify who the movers and shakers are in their community. These should be people who are respected, have integrity, are influential and come from diverse groups in the community. They can include the following:
- Community-based organizations
- Faith-based organizations
- Chamber of Commerce
- Other unions
- Homeowners Associations
- School support professionals
Once your team has identified potential allies, the first step is to make contact. The initial contact is for the purpose of coming together to have a one-on-one conversation to share your interests, purpose and goals. This time should be used to listen deeply so that you can determine if this is a potential ally for your chapter.
In order to sustain a long-term community engagement program with community organizations, you must have continuous communication with them and nurture the relationship.
It is important to remember that establishing a community relationship is a two-way street. It is just as important to be an advocate for our allies’ issues as it is for them to support ours. You may not always agree on a given issue, but it should not end the relationship. Remember, there are no permanent friends and there are no permanent enemies in community organizing.
As your chapter moves forward developing a community engagement program, remember that CTA provides support and resources to help you, such as the Who's Who in Other Organizations sheet. For further assistance, ask your Primary Contact Staff or Chapter President to bring in a Community Engagement Consultant.