Who & How to Invite

How you can get the right people to participate in a civic engagement project


Who to invite

You should invite three types of groups: those that may be affected by your decisions (e.g. clients, employees, citizens), those with knowledge or experience (e.g. academics, alumni, experts), and those that hold authority to deliver change (e.g. legal consultants, accountants). Here are three questions to ask:


Teachers know how to reduce violence in our schools. Employees know what will help them perform better.

Who knows what works?

Your alumni know the field. Academic scholars are familiar with best practices and global trends.

Who needs to approve?

Your colleagues, budget managers, and accountants are your partners. They have knowledge worth collecting.

Here are some examples of stakeholder groups that you may want to target:

Service recipients, citizens, employees, managers, nonprofits, cities.

Residents, legislators, policemen, local organizations, business owners.

Current & former clients, contractors, employees, managers, leaders.

Current & former members, leaders, providers.

Service recipients, employees, managers, board members.

How to invite

After you launch a project, you can invite participants through various channels by using the admin interface. You can only invite participants after you have launched your project. 

Digital Channels

In the project admin interface, select “Invite & Share” and choose a channel:

Ask questions

You can invite participants via email. Simply copy & paste your list and send personalized invitations to each and every one of them.

CIvic engagement by SMS

You can pose your question via SMS, so that participants can reply by using their mobile devices. Send us your lists and we will set things up for you!

Update on Results

If your project is open to everyone, you can share the invitation on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We can promote your posts among different audiences.

Civic engagement by websites

You can integrate a pop up invitation on your website with your profile picture, asking visitors to give you advice. We recommend doing so in relevant pages. Another option is to integrate banners with a direct link to your site.

Civic engagement by sending links

You can generate a short link to your project, copy it, and share it with various lists (via email, as part of a digital campaign or during an event). Note: for “members only” projects, only registered emails can get in.

invite participants

An ad campaign over the internet or a humble investment in PR will enable you to expose your project to broader audiences. You can publish the project URL or generate a QR code. You can also publish selected answers, and later, the decisions that you made.

OFFLINE Channels

Along with using digital channels, you can collect advice without even asking your participants to log in. You can add comments from live engagement events with stakeholders directly into your project.

Civic engagement by calls

Calling stakeholders is expensive, but it works. We recommend using an introduction such as, “Hi… I’m calling on behalf of … to get your advice on …” You must get the participants’ approval before posting their answer(s). You can import their advice via the “add answers” interface.

CIvic engagement by Roundtables

Gathering a diverse group of 20-40 people for a roundtable event is one of the most effective methods for gathering productive insights and leading change. See below for more information on using the event management interface .

Civic engagement by conferences

A large crowd gathered in one location, such as a conference, is a great opportunity for engagement. You can text or email participants before, during, and after the event. You can also enter participant responses onto your project site in real time, and present key highlights from the advice you received on overhead conference screens.

Engagement with people

Sometimes, arranging one-on-one meetings creates the most important channel for gathering advice from senior executives. If approached personally (not digitally), executives are often willing to help. With their permission, you’ll be able to import their answers via the “add answer” interface.

How to limit access to questions

To change access to your question, enter the admin interface and select “Settings” on the left-side menu. Note: the site settings are always above the project ones. If the site is “closed for members only,” only users who are registered on the site community can enter the question.

The question itself has three different levels of access:

Open For All
Open for all

All participants can enter the project without any subscription. If the site is closed for members only, only site users will be given access.

Members Only Feature
Members only

You must invite participants to your project in order for them to get access. Even if the site is closed for members only, they will not see the project unless you invite them.

Require registration

The project will be shown to everyone, but to get in, users will need to register on the site with their email.

How to increase participation

You’ve decided to seek advice from diverse groups that can bring value to your decisions. But what will increase their willingness to help? The motives of sharing knowledge are not financial; they range from social norms, like civic duty, to altruism. To make participation from various stakeholders valuable, we need to reduce the cost of participation and increase the benefits.

Increase Benefits

Meaningfulness and Careness

Inclusive decisions should provide meaning and purpose, above all else:

  • Emphasize in your project text the kind of decision(s) you want to make and how participant advice will help get you there.
  • Communicate that a personalized impact update will be sent to all participants, based
    on the advice they’ve shared.

Ego plays a role in motivating people. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Publicize meetings/roundtables where invited participants can share
    advice with decision-makers. This will make your participants feel like an important part of the process.
  • Engage with your participants by highlighting and commenting on
    answers. We will make sure everyone knows you’re active with the project.
Fun and playful

Participating should be fun. We constantly upgrade our tool, but you’ll want to shorten and simplify your texts, making them accessible and user-friendly to all.


Save Time

There are several ways to minimize the costs of participation.

  • Uploading lists of emails/texts will allow you to send users a direct link to the website (no password needed). Users can also reply directly by SMS.
  • Virtual meetings can spare your participants a commute, and save valuable time.
  • Calling participants creates the “cost of hanging up.” It is the most expensive communication channel, but it can also be very effective.
  • Managing a roundtable with a clearly prepared question, and the possibility of people answering electronically, can save time.

We make the engagement as affordable as possible. Getting advice on the web saves money spent on transportation and parking.

How to manage a roundtable

A roundtable brings together a diverse and decentralized group of participants to discuss one specific question with a decision-maker. Here are six tips on how to manage your roundtable after it’s organized:


Before a roundtable, send everyone background data, info, the timetable, & the question that will be addressed.


After presenting the question, give participants 2 minutes to write down their advice. Collect the papers at the end!


Display the question on the overhead screen, read it aloud to all, and don’t hesitate to revisit it for focusing purposes.


To make things run smoothly, explain the rules of the roundtable: who speaks, when, for how long (2-4 min?) and what is added to the site.


We recommend having an open discussion; better advice will be generated if people can challenge one another. It works!


Toward the end, summarize some key insights and share the next steps prior to making decisions. Get everyone in the loop.

Here are three things you should remember during a roundtable:

LISTEN. The goal is to listen with an open mind, challenge our current thinking, and brainstorm within the field to create new insights. Roundtable participants will exchange many ideas, about which conclusions may not yet be drawn. Think broadly, challenge the mainstream understanding, and be patient with the integration of contents for a later stage in the process.

FOCUS. Begin the meeting by presenting the consulting question and the desired outcome. Make sure participants keep the outcome in mind and consider ways to achieve it. When the discussion starts to happen, don’t hesitate to initiate the productive dialogue. Engage - don’t be a stranger!

TOLERATE. You may encounter legitimate criticism. Acknowledge it, but don’t turn it into the main topic of discussion. Instead of responding to every claim or arguing with participants, reciprocate by productively seeking solutions. Build the future - don’t focus on the past.

A good consulting question will bridge the gap between the participants’ different worlds of content and understanding. Therefore, it is important to focus on the question and constantly revisit it. Avoid slogans, and remember that agreement is not the goal; everyone may take the question in a different direction. Our goal is to inspire collective knowledge, which emerges from the exchange of ideas.

Who & How to invite

How can you get people to participate in a civic engagement project?

< Civic Engagement Guide