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Communication Strategies inCommunity Problem SolvingInsights from Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grantees

Community Innovation Grants support communities working together to solve problems. Our grantees repeatedly tell us that communicating with key collaborators and community members is a major challenge to effective problem solving.

This may seem obvious at first—it likely did to them, too—but considering these tips as you begin problem solving will save you time and trouble in the long run.

Anticipate stumbling blocks.

Our grantees shared that they encountered these communication challenges.

A group of people holding large puzzle pieces above their heads

With collaboration partners:

  • Bridging differences in partner opinions
  • Negotiating how to share data
  • Breaking down silos
  • Creating shared expectations of partner roles and contributions
A group of people speaking through megaphones

With the broader community:

  • Sustaining engagement in long-term problem solving
  • Building shared community vision
  • Keeping everyone in the loop about progress
An image of a person speaking

WHILE IT IS DEFINITELY IMPORTANT TO LOOK FOR EARLY PROGRESS AND ‘WINS,’ BIG CHANGE REQUIRES A COMMITMENT FOR THE LONG HAUL. COMMUNICATING THIS FAR AND WIDE FROM THE OUTSET IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO THIS WORK.

-2013 Grantee

Set yourself up for success.

To overcome those challenges, our grantees have found that intentional (and, whenever possible, in person) communication strategies work well:

Two people speaking through megaphones

Work with partners and stakeholders to broadcast your message to the larger community.

Two people speaking in front of a calendar

Establish regular check-ins to ensure accountability and engagement with collaborators.

Two people speaking, with quote bubbles

Set aside time and space for collaborators to discuss contentious topics.

Two people speaking, with quote bubbles

Slow down and take the time to build trust and relationships with partners.

Five people communicating, connected by a network of lines

Different communication approaches work effectively with different stakeholders. Adapt accordingly.