More people say they
have participated in some sort of political or civic activity online,
such as promoting social issues, encouraging others to vote or sharing
thoughts and comments on issues, than years past. But the survey found
that these activities are most common among those who already show up in
For a forthcoming report, we spent part of last year talking to
public officials and community leaders about their views toward public
participation in government. We asked them: What's working and what's
not? Overwhelmingly, we heard that officials, community leaders and the
public are interested in pursuing new ways to engage the public in
community decision making. They want processes that are more inclusive,
more thoughtful and that lead to better solutions.
is a clear need and desire to expand civic participation. How, then, do
we do it? This is a challenge we continuously work to address in our
face-to-face engagement efforts. We've found that a few principles tend
to encourage more robust participation. These principles include:
Local sponsors and organizers. When
local community organizations take the lead in planning and organizing a
public participation event, local residents are more likely to feel
Personalized outreach. An email or phone call from a friend or acquaintance is much more effective for recruitment efforts than a general invite.
When organizers and decision makers follow up on an engagement event,
by explaining how the feedback was incorporated, for example, residents
trust that their opinions really count and will be more likely to attend
Digital engagement, though, is clearly quite different from community engagement. Digital tools seem
to provide vast potential for expanding civic engagement and
participation, but doing it right will require thinking that's as
innovative and unprecedented as the digital tools themselves.
you had successful experiences with online engagement? Do you have any
ideas for bridging the gap to reach beyond usual suspects? Send your
feedback to Allison Rizzolo at firstname.lastname@example.org and join in the conversation with us on Twitter @PublicAgenda.
our website for the aforementioned report on public officials and
community leaders. If you are interested in receiving word when the
research is released late this month, email Megan Donovan at email@example.com.
An Opportunity for More Public Engagement
in California Politics
Copyright Pepperdine University 2004-2009.
All Rights Reserved
We are happy to announce that our friend and partner Pete Peterson is
running for the Secretary of State in California. While we're not in the
business of endorsing political candidates, we do support leaders who
embrace the meaningful participation of diverse members of the public in
Pete, executive director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership,
is running on a platform of improving civic engagement state-wide. He
explains one simple rule that serves as a backbone of that platform:
"informed Californians, given the opportunity to participate in a good
process (online and/or offline) can make more creative, and more sustainable decisions than government alone. This is especially true on tough issues."
Join us in our hometown for LeadON, Independent Sector's National Conference
this September in NYC. The conference is a great opportunity for
networking and is known for its thought-provoking (and thought-changing)
Sector is the leadership network for nonprofits, foundations and
corporate giving programs committed to advancing the common good in
America and around the world. Their nonpartisan coalition of
approximately 600 organizations leads, strengthens, and mobilizes the
nonprofit and philanthropic community in order to fulfill their vision
of a just and inclusive society and a healthy democracy of active
citizens, effective institutions, and vibrant communities.
hope you can experience with us the largest gathering of nonprofit,
foundation and corporate philanthropy leaders in Independent Sector
history. Their exclusive sessions for organizational leadership are
first-rate, as are the pre-conference sessions for young leaders. The
conference also includes a policy institute that covers the tactics and
strategies for communicating about the policy issues facing the
Learn more about Independent Sector and this year's conference at their website.
PA in the News
Education Week examined our latest report, "Ready, Willing and Able?" on two of their blogs. The report details how different types of parents view parental involvement in schools. The K-12 Parents and the Public blog examines how the findings apply to parent groups looking to activate more parents in education reform. Inside School Research
emphasized why it's important for administrators to consider
differentiating parent involvement programs to meet the differing needs
of their parent community.
Public Agenda is
a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens
navigate complex, divisive issues. Through nonpartisan research and
engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need
to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their
differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on
K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local
budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at PublicAgenda.org.
Help our nation make progress on its toughest challenges. Donate today.