Community Canvas

The Community Canvas is a framework that helps people and organizations build stronger communities. It provides a template for anyone who brings people together.

Copyright The Community Canvas.

Copy to your organization

More resources like this?

Check out these development programs: Canvas thinking

Identity 5

Who are we and what do we belive in?

Why does the community exist?

  • What does the community hope to achieve?
  • How will the world be different by having this community?
  • How will the world be worse off if this community doesn’t exist/ceases to exist?
  • How will it affect the lives of members if they are part of this? 

Who is the community for?

  • What are the traits that its members share?
  • How does the community describe its members?
  • What is the profile of the community’s most active members?
  • How does the community take special care of them?
  • How is diversity defined and what is its role?
  • How is diversity enacted in all parts of the organization?

What is important to us as a community?

  • How do we want our members to treat each other?
  • How do our values help fulfill the community’s ultimate purpose?
  • What is the “vibe” of our community?
  • What is the aspirational way of life our community promotes?
  • How do we capture and communicate our values, both internally and externally?

How does the community define success?

  • What does the ideal community look like?
  • What kind of membership in the community is considered a success?
  • What kind of value does the community create for its members?
  • How does the community measure success?

How does the community express itself?

  • How does it use language, visuals and objects to strengthen its identity?
  • What is the community’s esthetic?
  • How does the community’s brand reflect its values?
  • How does the community communicate its identity to the world?
Experience 7

What happens in the community & how does it create value for the members?

How do people join the community?

  • Is this an open or a closed community?
  • For open communities: what marks the difference between a member and a non-member?
  • What is the onboarding process for new members?
  • How are the people identified who should be part of the community?
  • How actively does the community want to grow and add people?

How do members leave the community?

  • Is there ever an end to the experience or does membership continue on indefinitely?
  • Is there a separate structure or experience for people who have left the community (e.g. an alumni community)?
  • How does the community handle inactive members?

What experiences do members share?

  • How do the individual experiences connect to the community’s overall goals?
  • Why are certain experiences more important than others?
  • How are shared experiences organized: is everything organized top down for the members? Or do members organize experiences for each other?
  • Do the shared experiences speak to a diverse group of members?

What rituals happen regularly?

  • Which rituals deepen the bonds among members?
  • Which rituals embody the community’s values?
  • Which rituals mark specific milestones in the membership experience?
  • Which rituals happen online?
  • Which rituals happen in person?

What content creates value for members?

  • How can the community tell the stories of its members?
  • What content will create deeper bonds among members?
  • How do members contribute valuable content to the community? 

What are the community’s rules? 

  • What does the community expect from each member?
  • What can the member expect from the community?
  • What is considered “out of bounds” misbehavior?
  • What are the rules for online interactions?
  • What are the guidelines for in-person gatherings?
  • How does the community deal with inactive members?
  • What happens if someone doesn’t follow the rules?
  • Which entity has the authority to create, change and enforce rules?

What roles can members play?

  • Why do the different roles exist?
  • What are the expectations for each role?
  • What are the rules for how handovers and transfer of responsibilities happen?
Structure 5

What gives us stability in the long-term?

Who runs the community?

  • How is leadership organized?
  • Who does what?
  • How is leadership incentivized for their work?
  • Who hires and manages staff?
  • What functions are considered critical for survival?
  • What is the legal entity of the community and what requirements come with it?

How are decisions made in the community?

  • What are the community’s decision-making bodies?
  • How is decision-making power distributed or concentrated within the community?
  • What gives the decision-makers their authority?
  • How are conflicts handled within the community?

What is the community’s plan to be financially sustainable?

  • How is the community financed?
  • How does it generate revenue?
  • Non-profit vs. for-profit: Does the community have a profit motive?
  • Does the community rely on revenue from its members (internal), or other sources (external)?

What channels does the community use to communicate and gather?

  • What are the core digital needs of the members and which platforms can fulfill them?
  • What is the existing digital behavior of the members and how can the community integrate into that?
  • Where does the community meet regularly - physically or digitally?
  • How does the community communicate internally? With the outside world?
  • What are the requirements of the community towards their physical spaces?

How does the community manage the data of its members?

  • How does the community keep its member contacts up-to-date?
  • How can members search for other members within the community?
  • What insights are critical for the community to regularly derive from its members?
  • How does the community capture insights and knowledge generated in the community?