Startups : Community Engagement Canvas

Gosbert Chagula
3 min readMar 21, 2021

I’ve spent alot of time thinking about community power lately and how Founders and Entrepreneurs engage them.

For any early-stage founder, gaining insights is essentially 90% of your work in the early stages. Forget company registrations, share division or setting up a website. Your focus is on understanding the problem that your customers have. A key part of this process is talking to individuals and engaging them within the communities in which they spend time.

Engagement [Definition]

We see engagement as an ongoing process of developing trusting relationships that lead to meaningful change. In other words, engagement is not a one-off; it’s something you work at over time.


Recently, an article from [Insert name] spoke of the need to build with a ‘community first’ mindset. Although in agreement, I often observe the struggle for many to effectively engaging online communities in such a way that is 1) strategic 2) adds value to the actual community.

During Covid, how we think of the term ‘community’ has shifted. Engagement is no longer limited to people's physical groups; instead, we increasingly focus on digital spaces where people congregate. These spaces have rules, customs and traditions which must be respected.

Community Engagement Canvas

I created the community engagement canvas to put some rationale around how founders and entrepreneurs (especially those at the early stages) engage community groups in online spaces.

This is intended to be a stripped-down guide for founders or innovators in the early stages of gathering insights. I was inspired by the Tamarack Community, an organisation that develops and supports collaborative strategies that engage citizens and institutions to solve major community issues across Canada and beyond.


Tamarack's Community Engagement Tool

The Community Engagement Canvas ✏️

Purpose 🎯

Why does the community that you wish to engage with actually exist?

  • What’s the sector/niche that the community is focused on?
  • What is the specific problem that the community is addressing?

Identity 🧑🏻‍🤝‍🧑🏽

Who is the typical community participant?

  • Age
  • Location
  • Sex


What are the group's values, and how do they align with the customers/users you need to gain insight from?


Who are the different community leaders?

Founders, moderators, hosts?

Where are they based?

What are their professional backgrounds?

Are they accessible?

Community Success Definition 🙌

How does the community define ‘success’ for its participating members?

  • Is there a goal which the community is seeking to achieve?
  • What does success look like for its members?

Rules 📝

What guidelines and boundaries within the community?

  • What are the official rules?
  • What are the taboos or unsaid things within the community?

Action 🎬

What happens in the community regularly that helps members achieve their goals?

(Examples: Newsletters, Ask me Anything Sessions, IG / Facebook Lives, Conferences, Meetups etc.)

  • What could you potentially offer to the group?
  • How could you ‘slot in’ and provide some sort of value to the group membership/leaders

If you enjoyed this post, follow me on Twitter for more insight about Startup Discovery School and Life via @Gosbert 🚀



Gosbert Chagula

Co-Founder @ Startup Discovery School 🧭 | Business for Non-Business Types | Football Shirt Connoisseur