Contributed by Melissa Jaggers, Associate Executive Director of Alignment Nashville
Community engagement can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people and organizations. For collective impact organizations, it is a crucial component for effective system change. But how can we do it well?
At Alignment Nashville, we believe that systemic change is only possible when the entire community is engaged and the community’s resources are aligned. Our primary tool for community engagement and resource alignment is the Invitation to Participate ™ (ITP™) process. The ITP is an easy way for Alignment Teams (design and implementation teams) to invite the broader community to align its resources to a common goal.
The advantages of the ITP process include:
- Transparency – through the ITP process, the entire community has access to common goals and outcomes. They don’t have to serve on a committee, read multiple newsletters, or rely on personal connections – all they have to do is subscribe to the Alignment Nashville email blast list. When an ITP is released, ANY organization or entity can respond.
- Uncovering unusual suspects – the ITP process opens the door for people, organizations and resources to propose new, creative ways to align their resources in support of common goals. For example, when the Elementary Alignment Team released a Character Education ITP, they would never have dreamed that Marathon Petroleum would respond. But they did – and now have become a strong character education partner.
- Documentation of resource alignment – once organizations respond to an ITP, their resource alignment is documented as part of the solution implementation. Organizations can use this in future funding requests, and Alignment Nashville can present a clear picture of what resources were aligned to achieve common goals and outcomes.
For more information about Alignment Nashville and its ITP ™ process in action, please visit www.alignmentnashville.org.