Selecting a Community Project Based Using Consensus
Youth Advisory Committee
In this activity participants will learn about the process of reaching group consensus. The group will generate service project ideas and begin the planning process.
What issues do you think need to be addressed by a service project in your community? What service project ideas have been discussed by the group prior that were not completed in the past?
- List of the problems in the community (one per group)
- Newsprint or access to the Internet
- Before the meeting create a list of the top community problems your local area faces. This can be composed after conducting a needs assessment with your youth philanthropy group.
- At the beginning of the meeting, share the list with the group. Have each participant read through the list of problems and select the five areas they would most want to address in a community service project. Participants should rank them, with 1 being the most important.
- Divide the group into smaller groups and ask that they reach a consensus on the top three problems.
- Ask each small group to prepare a short report or presentation highlighting their top choices and the reasons for ordering them that way.
- Bring all of the groups back together to listen to one another's ranking. Ask the following questions:
- What did you observe when you first started to work in the small group?
- How did the group begin to narrow down the choices?
- How did people in the group influence each other?
- Did anyone emerge as a leader in the group?
- Did the group select the issues that the emerging leader seemed to support?
- What process was used to make a final decision on the three issues your group will consider?
- Ask each group to reconvene and join with another group to narrow the key issues from three down to two.
- Bring the group back together and talk about the differences in reaching consensus based on the number of people in the group.
- Once the large group is brought back together, explain that this process began with the individual, then advanced to a small group and then to the entire group.
The group may have been able to reach a consensus or not. Sometimes a large group, instead of reaching a consensus, chooses to vote and let the majority win. Consensus building assures you take the time to let everyone express their opinions fully and that everyone listens to each other and attempts to find a solution all can live with. After you have fully discussed a problem and listened to each other, then there will be support for the final decision, even if it is reached through a vote.
- End the activity by asking the entire group to select their two top problems either by consensus or by voting. State at the next meeting that you will now develop one of the top ideas into a service project.
- If problems selected were not on your first list of five, could you still support working on that problem in a project?
- Would you withdraw from working on that issue and wait until you could convince the group to work on an issue important to you?
- What are your next steps for turning the selected issue into a service project?
- How can you take what you've learned about reaching a group consensus to ensure successful planning of the service project?