Start a New Forum

Here is a simple guide to successfully launching an online community forum.


  1. A "Neighbors Forum" is the most local version of our online civic engagement model. It combines inclusive "community life" exchange with civic engagement on very local public issues.
  2. Forums do not launch themselves. "Build it they will come" simply doesn't work. We've found it takes 100 members to successfully launch an active forum.
  3. Our shared technology platform is the easy part. We set it up for you once you've recruited 25 supporters to help you recruit. This is a pilot space that officially "opens" when you've reached 100 members.
  4. If you volunteer to lead a forum, it is free to host a forum with us and gain access to our useful peer-to-peer support network. We do hope your participants will donate and we are experimenting with forum sponsorship.
  5. We do accept funding to help a community get going. A community foundation or major donor is welcome to step in to speed up outreach.

How To

  1. If you haven't done so yet, fill out our 30 Second Request New Forum Form that asks you for:
    • The name of your city and neighborhood, with information on the estimated population of the geographical area you seek to cover
    • Your contact information, and
    •  A sense of what roles you would be interested in filling
  2. Submit a simple spreadsheet (Google Doc sample) with the names and email addresses of your first 25 members to, and we will technically set up your forum and provide you access. In the body of the email, provide a CLEAR indication of who your Forum Manager will be and their contact information. We will get back to you and/or your Forum Manager with the home page and login instructions, as well as access to resources to help you manage the forum.
  3. Recipe for a New Forum
  4. Recruit 100 initial members - This is where you should focus your attention:
    • In-person outreach works best. From our print materials, adapt our paper sign-up sheets and email invites, and use them to door knock in your neighborhood or clipboard or table at local community events, farmers markets, etc. THIS WORKS.
    • Adapt and hang our promotional posters where you can and feel free to make your own flyers.
    • Circulate your invitations via email, Facebook, etc. inviting others to join. This works better as you open and demonstrate critical mass.
    • This is also a good time to be recruiting volunteers!

If you haven't yet technically set up your forum, you're ready to go!

Questions? Email

Next Steps

  1. Configure your forum home page and charter - by adapting this text as your placeholder description for your About info tab on your home page (example):
    • Join your neighbors now! The PLACE HERE Neighbors Forum is the place to share announcements and discuss community issues and life specific to our area. While an independent forum, it is conceived as a friendly complement to our neighborhood association. The forum will open for introductions with 100 members. To get a sense of what this space can be check out this example open forum.
    • We do have a longer "charter" that you can craft (example) that sits a top our our universal civility rules. Don't worry about this for now.
  2. Continued outreach - The technology is the easy part. Outreach is what really makes or breaks opening a new forum.
    • Introduce yourself to the forum and provide a sample invitation for initial members to distribute widely.
    • Collaborate with your initial base to build membership.

New members can be added in one of two ways.

  1. Provide the link to the forum home page where they will have the option to join directly.
  2. Ask your initial base to send the contact information of people who want to join to your Forum Manager (that may or may not be you) who can add them directly.

Once you've reached 100 members, you're ready to publicly launch your forum! Opening with a friendly round of introductions (before opening to everyday postings) sets a positive tone.

Questions? Email

Looking for more?

We created a group for people waiting for a forum to come to their area. Visit the New Forum group to see who might be willing to join you in a local outreach effort, and email to join.