A very big list of community models and ideas

Jan 6, 2021 9 min read

🐰 AKA: This is our way of saving you hours of going down rabbit holes

When I think about building communities I like to check my thinking alongside other community building people, ideas and strategies…so I gathered a BIG list.

To be honest, I don’t really use any of these things specifically, but I like to know of and reference them occassionaly to double check my thoughts and strategies. And what better way to do that than by collecting these into one resource.

This is basically my way of saying I’ll go down 🐰 rabbit 🐰 holes so you don’t have to. Rosieland is here to serve you. 🙌🏾

This list will be maintained longterm on our knowledgebase. Thought don’t look at it straight as it’s not quite up to date.

I would also like add that I’ve missed many models, despite what people say, I am only human. I also come from a tech background, so bias comes from there too. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. For me this is an ongoing effort to continously learn how people thing about building communities.

One final point, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed by this. When I build community, I make things up as I go along. In fact, this post today about encouraging us to stop explaining community management is quite timely. There is plenty of room to improve how we all attempt to explain and do these things.

[Please bear in mind that this is so long that I keep getting warnings of it’s length. Please read it online for MAXIMUM enjoyment.]

🎉 Onwards…!

Community Canvas

The Community Canvas is a framework that will help you build and run a new community, or analyze and improve an existing community.

It identifies the fundamental themes to cover and helps you ask the right questions.“Community” means something different to every person. We have developed this tool in the hope of supporting anyone who runs an organization that brings people together and makes them feel like they belong, no matter if it’s an alumni organization, a sports club or an HR department.

Pinpointing “Who” and “Why”

Great community leaders get clear on two questions: Who do I want to get together? Why are we coming together?

Do Something Together

Whether online or IRL, communities of all stripes form around shared activities.No matter if you’re a community that comes together to test recipes, navigate personal finances, or celebrate the clouds, your members can only realize their community’s purpose through this thing they do together. In other words, kindred spirits operating in silos aren’t a community (yet!).

Community Builder — Designing Communities for Change

Practical toolbox for starting and developing a community. More than 40 different tools to help you understand WHO your community members are and what they need from the community. Also to clarify WHY your community exists and HOW to get the best out of it.

Arnstein's Ladder of Citizen Participation

Sherry Arnstein, writing in 1969 about citizen involvement in planning processes in the United States, described a “ladder of citizen participation” that showed participation ranging from high to low.

Connecting Work and Learning

This (chapter) proposes that the connection between innovation and learning is evident. We cannot be innovative unless we integrate learning into our work. Improving our ability to see contradictions, by seeking disconfirming data, can easily be integrated into the discipline of PKM.For example, here are some questions that the practice of PKM can address:

  • How do I keep track of all of this information?
  • How do I make sense of changing conditions and new knowledge?
  • How can I develop and improve critical thinking skills?
  • How can we cooperate and collaborate better?
  • How can I engage in problem-solving activities at the edge of my expertise?

Community is like building a fire

What’s not to love about building a fire with your people?

Lean Community Framework

Noele’s five step framework for launching a community as a small business or entrepreneur without a dedicated community manager.

Community Commitment Curve & Community Onion

How effective is a given community effort in moving a person up and long the curve and toward the centre of the onion. 🧅

David Spinks also talks about this in the context of business, where he writes about how everyone is part of the community, just on different levels.

Orbit Model

The goal of the Orbit Model is to increase the Gravity of your community.The Orbit Model is a framework for building high gravity communities. A high gravity community is one that excels at attracting and retaining members by providing an outstanding member experience.

The Orbit Model contains four fundamental concepts: Gravity, Love, Reach and Orbit Level:

  • Love is a member's level of engagement and activity in the community.
  • Reach is a measure of a community member’s sphere of influence.
  • Gravity is the attractive force of a community that acts to retain existing members and attract new ones.
  • Orbit levels are a practical tool for member segmentation and used to design different programs for each level of the community.

The Trust Triangle

Trust is the basis for almost everything we do. It’s the foundation on which our laws and contracts are built. It’s the reason we’re willing to exchange our hard-earned paychecks for goods and services, to pledge our lives to another person in marriage, and to cast a ballot for someone who will represent our interests. It’s also the input that makes it possible for leaders to create the conditions for employees to fully realize their own capacity and power.

The Online Community Engagement Ladder

The community engagement ladder is a framework that acknowledges that members interact with your community in different ways, and creates opportunities for them to interact, regardless of how engaged they're able to be at any given time. It aims to create engagement opportunities that surmount different types of barriers to engagement, like lack of time, vulnerability, or level of understanding of the topic at hand.

Community Firmanent


Community Engagement Framework

The Community Roundtable's Community Engagement Framework is a tool that articulates four stages of culture change, and documents how cultures move from transactional relationships to collaborative relationships that allow people to explore out loud, a core attribute of collaborative and innovative cultures.

The role of purpose in community development

Structure3C’s 2021 Community planning templates, and the slides from Bill’s recent Community Revolution sessions.

Liberating Structures

Five conventional structures guide the way we organize routine interactions and how groups work together: presentations, managed discussions, open discussions, status reports and brainstorm sessions. Liberating Structures add 33 more options to the big five conventional approaches.

Care of Souls

Care of Souls brings together four years of research and practice to illustrate seven necessary innovative community leadership roles for this moment. The Gatherer, Healer, Venturer, Elder, Steward, Seer and Maker all unbundle and remix the religious traditions previously seen as separate and invite the reader to live into new categories of religious life.

How We Gather

How We Gather maps the emerging landscape of Millennial communities that are fulfilling the functions that religious congregations used to fill. Grounded in six recurring themes – community, personal transformation, social transformation, purpose-finding, creativity, and accountability – this report has been called the most important non-theological text being read in seminaries today.


Microsolidarity is a set of practices for mutual support between peers. These methods bring us out of individualism and into a more relational way of being.

Most of this support happens in a Crew: a small group up to about 8 people growing trust in each other through emotional & economic reciprocity. Crews are always designed for intimacy, and may also produce an output (e.g. a software product or an activist campaign).

The Congregation is a space for Crews to co-develop in the company of other Crews. Congregations have less than a few hundred people, so they can be primarily governed through trust and dialogue.
Many Congregations could form an Assembly.

Community Readiness Canvas

The Community Readiness Canvas is a framework designed to help you and your team lay the groundwork for your community strategy, and provide you with actionable next steps.

The Six Conversations

Peter Block offers more context and nuance in his approach to shifting the community narrative. The essence is to invite people to connect using the Six Conversations from his book Community: The Structure of Belonging. The series is also more interesting than a talking head.

The Seven Principles of Belonging

📘 You should go buy the book.

  1. The Boundary Principle
  2. The Initiation Principle
  3. The Rituals Principle
  4. The Temple Principle
  5. The Stories Principle
  6. The Symbols Principle
  7. The Inner Rings Principle

CMX Community Strategy Canvas

The Community Strategy Canvas is laid out in three levels:

  1. Alignment is where you think high-level about why your community exists, what the goals are, who members are, and the culture you’ll create.
  2. Development is where you plan out how you will actually build and measure your community.
  3. Management is the infrastructure that creates an environment for your community team to succeed within your organization.

Inside each of these levels are The 9 Fundamentals of Community Strategy. As you solidify your approach to each fundamental piece of the community puzzle, your overarching strategy becomes stronger.

The Online Community Lifecycle

The lifecycle consists of four stages

  1. inception
  2. establishment
  3. maturity
  4. mitosis

The names are less important than the activities that you need to perform at each stage.

Three traits of exceptional shared activities

Be purposeful. Be particpatory. Be repeatable. 🙌🏾 (Emoji to match the image!)

Community of Inquiry

An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence.

Social presence is “the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)

Teaching Presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

Cognitive Presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

The 7P’s of Community

A simple framework for building belonging.

  1. Purpose: Clearly define your goal
  2. People: Choose the right members and leaders
  3. Place: Gather in a compelling space
  4. Participation: Take your members on a journey
  5. Policy: Enforce a clear set of rules
  6. Promotion: Start small then scale
  7. Performance: Measure everything

Community Based Marketing strategy

A clear definition of “Community Based Marketing (CBM)” and also a look at why 2020 has created ‘Perfect Storm’ conditions for B2B communities to flourish.

The SPACE Model

The Framework for Defining Your Community’s Business Value

The Community Rings

All groups have a shared identity, or they wouldn’t be a group. Some groups have a shared identity that is meaningful to its members, some less so.

There is always a shared identity if you get broad enough. Ultimately we’re all human and share that identity.

As the identity gets more specific, it will include less people and will probably be more meaningful to those who share it.

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