The Community Engagement Canvas


The canvas for community engagement is a tool for mapping your project, prompting consideration of key challenges and opportunities along the way. It is also helpful for reflecting on past projects, to understand lessons learnt and plan next steps. We presented this as a workshop for the Place Alliance’s Big Meet 7, having developed it with students from the University of Sheffield.


Used as a prompt sheet in a round table discussion, the canvas enabled groups to have a wide variety of discussions, some very particular to a specific project, and others around broader issues or challenges.


To conduct this workshop, participants are seated in small groups, with a nominated ‘facilitator’, and each group is given the following :

  • A ‘Canvas’ (below) at A3 size or larger – to guide and prompts discussion
  • A1 sized sheet of paper, post-its and pens – to record the stages of the project development

During the Big Meet, we ran the workshop for 45 minutes (with a 10 minute warning for wrap-up and collation of feedback), followed by a 30 minute feedback session.

Step 1 – Agree your table’s ‘Starting Point’ – this could be a real scenario that a participant suggests, a hypothetical scenario – or if all else fails, you could offer your own scenario.

Step 2 – Work your way through the ‘canvas’ with your group, using its prompts to develop the ‘why?’, ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘when?’ etc. of the project.

Step 3 – With 10 mins to go (we sounded a horn!) wrap up the conversation and agree feedback.

Step 4 – Facilitators are asked to give feedback from their table to the whole room.

Other things to consider :

  • make sure enough focus is given to the ‘why’ – people tend to jump to the ‘what’ without giving this enough thought
  • make sure someone at the table is recording the conversation
  • by repeating the ‘why?’ at the end of the canvas we are implying this is a circular process
  • which should be revisited as the scenario changes
  • we collected the A1 sheets back for our records – suggest to participants that they take photos for their own records


Have you tried this tool? Comment below to tell us how you used it and give us feedback!

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