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Engagement flow

How to keep track of member involvement with the engagement ladder
4 min read
Last update: Jan 21, 2024

In this guide, you will learn to think about the engagement flow from your movement. We will explain how you can define the engagement flow, also called engagement ladder, for your movement.

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Engagement is a key goal for any nonprofit or activist organization, and having a solid engagement flow in place is essential for success. An engagement flow is a plan that outlines how you will engage with your audience, how you will build relationships with them, and how you will encourage them to take action.

An engagement flow, also called engagement ladder, is a way to categorise and segment the people involved in your action, from the most committed to the least committed.

A little girl climbing up a ladder, speaking to large businessmen

Empower people by providing them with an engagement ladder, by Joppe | Generated using Dall-e

Engagement ladder

Your engagement ladder can be divided into seven stages: a person who has heard of you, someone who knows you, an individual who considers you, a person who takes action, someone who contributes, a potential leader, and a leader.


In the initial step of the engagement ladder, the focus is predominantly on communication, which is essentially a one-way street. Here, you as the organization disseminate information, while the public receives these communications. The objective is to persuade the public that their values and interests align with your cause. Through your communication efforts, you aim to attract potential activists to your cause.

To become a leader, an individual typically progresses through all the previous stages of the ladder. This means before taking their first action, they need to have heard of you, know you, and consider joining your cause. In some cases, these three steps can happen quickly, within half an hour, while in others, it might take over six months.

In the latter half of the engagement ladder, the public evolves into active supporters, turning the relationship from a one-way street into a two-way interaction. The focus shifts from primarily communication to predominantly organizing skills. This is a phase of mutual discovery, where both parties learn about each other's strengths and weaknesses.

It's generally not recommended to immediately assign a new volunteer a leadership role. Allowing them to gradually increase their involvement provides an opportunity to understand each other better. Before placing someone in a leadership position, it's crucial to assess their capability for the role. Importantly, not everyone is destined to be a leader. It's perfectly acceptable for individuals to remain as active participants, potential leaders, or even just engage in their first action. This process helps in determining whether someone fits into the group and can contribute positively.

Person who has heard of you

At the lowest rung, the public completes an easy action such as looking at your seeing an article or having a conversation with one of your activists/ volunteers. They realise your organisation and/ or actions exists and have a vague idea what you stand for.

Person who knows you

In the second phase the public becomes more aware of your organisation. They have a fairly good idea about your standpoints and has seen your organisation at least in a few different communications.

Person who considers you

In the third phase the public becomes a supporter of the cause. They actively search for more information about your organisation or action and start to consider whether or not they want to be associated with the cause. They will for example visit the website, get in contact or visit an information event.

Person who takes action

For the first action try to give your new volunteer a small task. For example if you organise an information evening let them welcome visitors, or when walking doors, let them go with an experienced volunteer. If they succeed, you can give them more responsibilities.

Person who contribute

When the volunteers is enthusiastic you can give them more and more responsibilities that align with their motivations and skills.

Person who might lead

If the volunteer shows potential for leading skills you can start to see them as a potential leader. Try to test this by giving this person small leading tasks like organising a bigger evenent or leading a small group people for a project.

Person who leads

The most trustworthy people with skills to lead and facilitate you can eventually make a leader. They will facilitate al the important processes in the group.

External resources

Improve this page

  • Add external resources about this topic

  • Priority on training people for own organisation or building movement power in itself?

  • Difference between engagement ladders for people becoming activists and people just supporting in the forms of donations and the like.

  • Every person should optimally go through all phases of the engagement ladder. Are there situations in which this is not ideal?

  • You should always want people to go further into the engagement ladder up until probably active participant at least.

  • different wording:

    • Person who has heard of you

    • Person who knows you

    • Follower

    • Supporter

    • Contributor

    • Owner

    • Leader

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