Case study of public engagement at Ontario nature
Successful public engagement is crucial for environmental nonprofits that rely on the public for donations, volunteer work, and advocacy. Organizations need to carefully select and administer engagement methods in order to develop enduring relationships with their publics, while balancing their costs both in time and money. This study examines the current and past practices of Ontario Nature, a thriving environmental charity, to gain insight into the complexity and ramifications of building public engagement. Relationship management theory is used as a theoretical framework for understanding the overall effectiveness of the engagement methods. The study concludes that Ontario Nature (ON) has a history of choosing its engagement methods strategically, taking expense and measured effectiveness into consideration. They have used an adaptive approach to public engagement and deliberately evolved their methods to keep pace with changing technologies. Although ON’s engagement techniques are specific to their organization and mission, smaller nonprofits could learn from their example and adopt similar techniques. Of particular note are: i) ON’s timely move to social media technologies to increase their visibility and attract new generations of community members; and ii) ON’s ongoing willingness to abandon older engagement methods that have lost some of their effectiveness in favour of newer, more germane approaches.