Engaging residents and stakeholders can be both time consuming and expensive. However, there are multiple benefits of community engagement — both in economic and societal terms.
And these benefits can be translated into tangible ROI (Return-on-Investment). Here are ROI for online community engagement platforms that you should consider when bringing this process to your organization.
Offline vs. Online Community Engagement
Typically in offline community engagement – when feedback is gathered face-to-face – the process requires:
- Money. There are personnel costs and costs for the arrangements (e.g. space, catering etc.) when organizing public meetings.
- Time. For instance, entering feedback that has been gathered with “pen and paper” into a digital tool takes additional time.
- Effort. When feedback is flowing in from differing sources, there is a need to manage that feedback effectively to make sense of it.
This might sound disheartening. That’s why doing community engagement online is definitely worth considering – especially now when it’s difficult to arrange the process using face-to-face methods. Additionally, these two methods, online and offline, actually complement each other so it might even make sense to do both.
We’ve gathered some facts for you about the return on investment (ROI) and benefits of online community engagement when it’s done with a tool like Maptionnaire. These points can help you if you have to convince your supervisor or colleague of the benefits of doing engagement online and investing in an online engagement platform.
Economic Benefits of Online Community Engagement
Here are our six reasons for saving time, money, and effort if you’re handling an online community engagement process:
- The cost of data acquisition is lower compared to face-to-face methods
- You get more data with less effort, and usually the number of responses is significantly higher with using an online survey.
- Community engagement costs 90% less when done online
- Because the cost per engaged person is lower.
- A Software as a Service (SaaS) solution costs at least 75% less
- When a SaaS community engagement solution is compared to tailor-made online services.
- The cost of feedback management is lower.
- This is because it’s simpler with a digital tool compared to doing this by hand. Additionally, all your information from an engagement project can be stored in one place so you don’t have to spend time looking for it.
- Projects can be implemented quicker
- Because the time you spend on gathering feedback is reduced. Our customer, the City of Espoo, saved twenty minutes with every comment they received in their statutory commenting process where the overall number of comments to be answered and archived was several hundreds.
- The overall yearly savings are estimated to be around €80.000 – €200.000
- By digitizing feedback channels, a medium-sized city saves around €80.000–€200.000 per year, according to the Finnish Ministry of Finance.
Societal ROI of an Online Community Engagement Service like Maptionnaire
The positive ROI of online community engagement does not limit itself to just economical factors. Here are six societal reasons why it makes sense to engage residents online.
- With online tools, you gain a broader reach of participants than with traditional face-to-face methods.
- It’s easier to reach e.g. younger people that don’t typically attend public meetings.
- You get to include the voices of groups that would remain silent.
- Certain groups won’t attend public meetings, and even if they do — they won’t speak up. Digital community engagement tools help you reach out to usually underrepresented groups.
- You get those people to participate who don’t have the time or interest to attend a public meeting.
- Public meetings are tied to a specific time and place so it’s clear not everyone has the time to take part – even if they’d like to.
- You achieve a higher resident satisfaction due to having the feeling of being heard.
- This is due to the fact that you offer several ways of participating and people can choose what fits their needs best.
- Engaging with residents online increases transparency and good governance.
- Bringing citizens onboard increases acceptability of the changes needed.
- If you are able to make residents a part of the engagement process, you are more likely to succeed. You at least need to be able to communicate about the process clearly so people know about the changes that affect their community.