Introducing the Minimum Viable Community Canvas — summarizing the core elements of a community on 1 page
Why it matters
Since publishing the first version of the Community Canvas, we have received a lot of feedback and tremendously appreciate everyone’s thoughts. Based on that input we have identified two areas to improve the Canvas in:
- While many appreciate the depth of the Canvas, it can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you are just getting started. What are the most crucial things to focus on as a young community?
- The Canvas not only exists to help community builders gain clarity, but ideally it also helps them communicate the community’s ideas and values (to its members and the outside world). How can you communicate in a concise way what a community stands for?
To address those questions we have created the Minimum Viable Community Canvas (MVC).
- Nine key questions to set the foundational DNA for your community.
- One page summary what your community stands for.
- We created a Google Sheets template, so that community members can easily update and collaborate over time.
Download the MVC
Why these 9 questions?
- Questions 1 to 4 (Purpose, Audience, Values, Goals) help formulate the core beliefs behind the community and set the tone for everything else in the community.
- Question 5 (Experience) is what actually happens in the community. We imagine that this will start with a first draft, be tested and then changed over time.
- Questions 6 to 8 (Roles, Rules, Governance) are all questions that are easily overlooked at the outset of a community, but we think they have long-term implications:
- Roles: many communities offer different kind of roles to different kind of members, but they are not made explicit. Furthermore, usually different roles come with a different set of responsibilities and privileges. This question clarifies that.
- Rules: many communities have implicit rules, but only few have them explicit and visible.
- Governance: this looks like a minor question, but it actually is an opportunity to reflect on a bigger point: is this a top-down community, where a selected few decide, or do members get to co-create?
- Question 9. (Communication): we see many early-stage communities focus heavily on what technology to use. While this question matters, we think it’s more important to keep it simple in the beginning and focus more on installing a healthy and consistent rhythm.
- For more in-depth coverage of each of these themes, download the Community Canvas Guidebook on https://community-canvas.org/
Making the MVC visible in your community
The power of the MVC lies in communicating the core elements of the community in a concise, 1 page way. Here are some ideas how to make the MVC visible in your community:
- Embed your MVC on your about page / Facebook group / social network
- Make it part of the application process, so people know what they are signing up for.
- Have new members actively confirm that they have seen it and agree with it.
- Post it in your community regularly and ask for areas that need to be updated/edited.
An example from applying the MVC in the Community Builders Facebook group
We’ve been experimenting with using and embedding the MVC in the Facebook group we created for community builders
- We created a MVC template for the group
- We then shared a first version with some very rough ideas, asking for everyone’s inputs
3. Based on everyone’s thoughts we created a second version and shared it with the group, asking for more feedback
4. We started linking to the MVC in the short text that describes the group:
5. We are making it part of the sign-up process and asking people applying for the group to look at it and tell us if they agree with them:
6. We are keeping the MVC pinned as the top post, so that anyone visiting the group will likely see it.
Help us improve it
As always, we are very eager and grateful for any advice on how we can improve the MVC and support community builders across the globe better. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org — thank you!
More resources at https://community-canvas.org
Sascha, Nico & Fabian