In this economic climate, the value of public engagement needs to be articulated in economic terms. Involve’s toolkit demonstrates that you don’t need specialist skills or knowledge to make the business case for engagement.
Today Involve and Consumer Focus launch our long awaited toolkit for how to make the case for engagement using monetary terms. We’ve had over a hundred people email and ask us for copies before the launch and so we hope that it will be well received. Thank you all for waiting so patiently!
Involve started thinking about the costs and benefits of engagement way back in 2005 (Here’s the original report). Back then there was limited interest; people felt there was little need to justify engagement and participation on economic grounds. Things are very different now. The public sector faces massive cuts across the board. Engagement and consultation are certainly not immune . I know of many posts that have been cut, projects scrapped and organisations that have lost their funding in the field. Making the case for engagement in this environment is difficult. In the past non-monetary benefits were the main arguments for this way of working. Community development workers, youth workers and consultation officers would point out that engagement was good for democracy, good for the self-esteem of the participants and good for social cohesion. Using monetary savings or efficiencies as an argument for a more democratic approach felt wrong. Clearly things have changed. When people are looking high and low for places to cut we cannot shy away from the economic arguments for participation.
The guidebook we launch today is a practical tool for you to make the case for engagement and determine how to measure the value of a project. The document consists of the main report and two excel sheets. One sheet tracks the costs and benefits of a single project and one compares the costs and benefits of two projects with each other.
The toolkit cannot and should not be used to create a false justifcation for projects that do not wokr. What the toolkit allows you to do is to articulate the benefits that you have seen but have lacked the language to speak about in the past.
I’ve had some emails from people who have welcomed the toolkit but worried that it would be difficult and not the toolkit for them. They assume they need specialised education, skills and skills to make this work. I believe that they are wrong and here are my five top tips for how to make the most of the toolkit:
I’m proud to launch the guide today. Lots of work has gone into it and I hope that many people will use it to make the benefits of engagement clear to all. Let us know if you use it and spread the word to others.
Image used courtesy of Anne Oeldorfhirsche on Flickr