Organizational policies are most relevant, realizable and meaningful when they are made explicit in a document that is consulted regularly, with all efforts monitored and evaluated regularly. An effective policy can be put into good practice when enabled by leaders with specific responsibility for the governance, management, and implementation of systems, structures, programs, projects and activities.

The process of developing an organizational public engagement policy can be very useful to board members, executive directors, policy directors, public engagement coordinators, global educators, youth engagement workers, and anyone else who is looking to strengthen their public engagement programming and is looking for tools and resources to help them do so.

What a public engagement policy can do:

  • Ensure organizational values and beliefs are reflected in activities and events;
  • Establish the guidelines or ground rules of your organization’s public engagement work;
  • Articulate the principles that guide your actions to promote transformational public engagement; and
  • Clarify the roles and responsibilities for work being done in your organization

(Adapted from “Rural Communities Impacting Policy–A Workbook,” 2005).

Why public engagement policy is important:

  • It guides and strengthens understanding of the role of public engagement within your organization;
  • It encourages consistent good practice in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting of public engagement efforts undertaken by your organization;
  • It clarifies the financial and human resource decisions related to public engagement;
  • It can mitigate risk related to public engagement efforts;
  • It provides your Board of Directors, employees, interns, volunteers, independent consultants, members, partners, and funders with a framework for action that supports them with the job they need to do;
  • It fosters efficiency by providing one thought-out decision that can be applied to many similar cases;
  • Current policies do not address public engagement activities and do not enforce good public engagement practices;
  • Policy can be used as a tool for public engagement quality improvements; and
  • Without policy and procedures guiding public engagement work, conflict and confusion can result.

(Includes items adapted from Health Communication Unit of the Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto, 2004, and from Paul Bullen, Management Alternatives for Public Services.)

Further resources: 

What is Public Engagement?

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC):

Categories: Good PracticesPolicy